When I first was brought on to the Southern Hills team, Keith overly stressed the importance of campus ministry and the value of being at the schools as a youth pastor. I was about to leave his office and Keith said, “When you’re on campus, observe.” He may not have known how important that one word was, but it has stuck with me.
The task seemed simple in my mind: go to the schools and look around. But when applied, observing is much greater than just looking. When I’m on the campus of a local school, the first thing I do is stand in the back of the cafeteria and really observe. I see the athletes, the scene kids, the lost freshmen who are still trying to figure out high school even though it’s January. I see leaders—good and bad. I see wickedness, brokenness, and the fruits of the Spirit.
Mostly I see a culture that is lost, much like when Paul was in Athens (seeActs 17:16-34). He was surrounded by a culture made up of idolatry, brokenness, and wickedness. When I see this, my heart breaks, but I am reminded why I am on the campus in the first place. Just like Paul, I’m there to redeem the culture, to observe and then bring the gospel to the people right where they are.
Redeeming culture isn’t always received well. Some of the students look at me like I’m a babbling idiot, much like the philosophers viewed Paul. But Paul demonstrated a boldness that I try to reflect. Paul was able to stand before the high council of Athens, the big dogs that controlled everything and tell them about Jesus. Paul was redeeming the culture by telling them the highest of the highest officials.
If Paul, a former persecutor and murder of Christians, can do that what’s stopping us? What’s stopping us from sharing who God truly is in our workplace, on our campus, or at home? We, just like Paul, need to observe and then speak out with boldness, intentionality, and confidence. We need to share that God is the God that will meet all of our needs, the God who is the Maker and not the made. We are called to be redeemers, and once we redeem the culture, we are able to create a new culture that makes disciple who make disciples.