A Deep and Wide Community
At SEU Ohio, we want our students to grow wide and deep, wide in relationships and deep in their relationship with Christ. It’s an exciting time to see what God is doing in and through students. Several students were able to be part of the Ohio Ministers Retreat, where they were able to rub shoulders with some of the people they look up to and want to engage in relationship. We are growing in the number of students and the fall of 2018 is already going to be an even larger student body and its January.
But we want to also grow deep…
The Bible gives Christians their theology, but the beginnings of the theology of a local community are its Christians. Continuous culture-change plays a role in the constant reinvention of church ministry; this includes the use of technology and reaching new people groups. Let us not syncretize to the culture of consumerism, but let us contextualize the gospel for the world. Let our mission call us to become the deep thinkers of the future church. Let us embrace our church challenges with a radical self-abandon like Jesus did. These are some of our missional goals for our campus at SEU Ohio.
Will you pray with us? I am deeply convinced that we are missing a deep and wide prayer movement that engages the Spirit to help strengthen our weaknesses. Discipleship is not something that God gives to us or does for us. We must do it ourselves. We must be determined to follow Christ. The Spirit can help us achieve that personal will in a way that words cannot express, but we must be determined to live as Christ. Our redemption through the practice of continual repentance is part of that determination. When we do this through humility, we begin to develop character. Humility is the method by which all of the other aspects of our character can be developed. It’s the first stage of all learning. The determination to follow Christ’s mission comes through the experience of seeing why Christ’s mission should be our own.
The heart of God is embodied in us when we love him more than life itself, and when we love others more than ourselves. This happens only through deeply focused spiritual life. We must pay attention to the darker portions of our soul and see that the light within this darkness is really God illuminating our humanity. When we come to the end of ourselves, we begin in him. When we die, our hearts beat anew with the same blood that ran down the cross and that still flows through his veins. Let us embody the character, mission, and heart of Jesus Christ. Jesus, through his life, altered the course of human history. When we embody who he is, we alter history through changing another life, yet once again. We want our students to feel this. We want them to embody this.
As a church and as a University campus, we must embrace an understanding that the kingdom of God cannot be divorced from the culture in which it finds itself, nor can it associate this culture as being the same as the kingdom. Understand how engaging culture requires that we think about the local church as our community’s lens of interpretation for the gospel. This is why our mission is to shape the imagination, skills, and values of future Christian leaders. We want them to engage the challenges that we face as a church by putting themselves in a position to practice well. Let Jesus’ model of incarnation be our guide.
David Pafford, M.A., MBA
Executive Director of the Southeastern University Ohio Network Campus