When I was a student at Penn State University Park there were at least fifteen evangelical Christian ministries on campus (and there may be more now). As far as I recall, the groups got along well, recognizing they all had similar goals. That said, some groups had more of a reputation for being intensely committed to their mission to save the campus. But I do recall there were some students who came to Christian Student Fellowship who simply did not fit into such groups because they were not prepared to join in the conquering of campus.
Perhaps to put it another way, using a war analogy: if the mission was to take the enemy hill and the message was to get on board the mission or be left behind, some students, even if they found the mission desirable, were not wanting to charge up the hill.
It seems like there are, and I admit this is a broad generalization, two types of students drawn to campus ministry: Conquerors and Survivors. Conquerors are those who could be described as “on fire for Jesus” and thus ready to charge up the hill. They know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and desire for others on campus to know him also. When there are many Christian groups on campus, these students are drawn to the ones with the most intense outreach plan, the ones charging up the hill.
Then there are students who just need the Christian community to survive another day, the Survivors. Some of them are plagued with depression. They are overwhelmed with the pressure of life, often coming to weekly meetings appearing completely drained. Some are not sure what exactly they believe, other than that they believe in Jesus and want to be part of a community so they can learn more. Maybe they are just shy and introverted. The idea of getting on board with a mission to conquer campus may be appealing, but adding another thing to do may end up conquering them. Or to return to the hill analogy one more time, they may like the idea but they know charging up such a hill is not for them. They are left wondering if there are other ways they can contribute to the mission.
One of the cool things about Penn State Berks is that CSF is the only Christian group on campus. Which means the “conquerors” and the “survivors” are forced to, if they want to be in any group, be in community together.
It does cause tension every now and then. There have been times when it appeared that some of the “conquerors” questioned the sincerity of the faith of the “survivors”. The “survivors” have at times felt intimidated by the “conquerors” who appear to have such a passionate faith. Other times the “survivors” have manifested feelings of resentment, thinking the “conquerors” see themselves as better Christians. Or, perhaps worst of all, in the face of the “conquerors” faith, the “survivors” simply have one more thing to stress about.
Over the past seven years at Penn State Berks these two types of students have managed to build a community together. They have managed to recognize that they are one community with much diversity in its members.
CSF Berks is a place for people to come who need help to survive another week at college.
CSF Berks is a place for people to come, and go out from, on a mission to bring blessing and hope to the campus.
Of course, and perhaps here is where my generalization breaks down, very few students fit into one or the other category at all times. Depending on what is going on in life, an individual may sometimes fit in as a “conqueror” and other times as a “survivor”. Either way, my hope is that CSF is there to meet the needs of both.