Students consider their callings during Collegiate Week
GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)--The statements of uncertainty seem never-ending:
“I graduate next semester, but I have no idea what I’m doing next.”
“Well, I’m majoring in education, but I don’t know if I really want to teach for the rest of my life.”
These, and their infinite variations, are uttered by countless college students on a regular basis, and they are exactly the type of statements LifeWay’s Collegiate Week 2006 theme addressed.
More than 1,000 students from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii assembled at LifeWay’s Glorieta Conference Center Aug. 4-10 for a week of fellowship, discipleship and study devoted to the theme “Calling Out the Called.”
“The week is about everyone here receiving a taste of the Lord,” said Greg Pinkner, teaching pastor at Fellowship Church in Knoxville, Tenn., and evening keynote speaker for Glorieta Collegiate Week. “In some senses, I can’t do anything to reveal God’s call in their [the students’] lives -- that’s for God to do. But I can speak the words I am supposed to speak.”
Pinkner wasted no time getting to the point.
On opening night, he presented a concise lesson in Greek that set the tone for the rest of the conference.
“The word ‘church’ in Greek, ecclesia, means ‘called out,’” he said. “The first thing any Christian does is say ‘You are God, and I am not.’”
A PLACE IN THE WILDERNESS
Situated outside Santa Fe, N.M., and not quite in the middle of anything, LifeWay Glorieta became an ironic haven for a crowd of collegiate Christians as Pinkner explained how thoroughly God’s calling separates Christians from the rest of the world.
“God is calling us out on an exodus from the sinful flesh,” Pinkner told the crowd gathered in Holcomb Auditorium. “When God calls a person, He calls them out of what they’ve known to where all they have is Him.”
Pinkner went on to explain that God calls Christians to be set apart -- not in the sense of being alone, but as integral pieces of the larger body of Christ.
“It scares me,” said Andy Rhodes, a student at Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas. “I don’t know where God’s going to take me. [This week] I’m learning to give God everything, to surrender, and to find the journey He’s set for me.”
To help attendees discover their personal journeys, booths filled with information on foreign and domestic missions, seminary programs and upcoming events lined the back of the auditorium. Missionaries from a wide range of mission fields mingled with students, sharing stories, encouragement and information.
Both Pinkner and morning speaker Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, however, stressed that a call to laity bears as much importance as a call to vocational ministry.
“I hope to put [missionaries, pastors and laity] on equal ground,” Pinkner said. “No one calling is more important than the other, but they all require specific preparation.”
Josh Story, students and singles pastor at Community of Grace Church in Denver, said that emphasis on the myriad of relevant callings was one of the conference highlights because it exposed his students to multiple service opportunities.
“I like that they are learning about the ministries they can do,” Story said. “I hope they go home with a little more direction in life.”
SET APART, YET HELD TOGETHER
While Pinkner spent the evenings explaining the overall concept of the Christian calling, Iorg spoke each morning about the details, characteristics and requirements of specific callings -- the pastorate, mission work and laity -- as well as how to recognize God’s voice when He calls.
“There’s so much I’ve learned about what I can do,” said Veronica Rollins, who attended Collegiate Week with Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. “I don’t have to be called to be a minister. There’s so much I can do just being the person I am.”
During the majority of each day, students participated in diverse discipleship opportunities ranging from worship services, nearly 75 topical seminars and intimate family group gatherings organized by class.
Long after scheduled events and evening worship, the attendees engaged in intense volleyball games on Glorieta’s sand courts or took the stage in the Chuckwagon café to share a special talent during open-mic sessions. Many just took the opportunity to enjoy the companionship of other Christians.
“The fellowship with people is intimate here,” said University of Louisiana student Natalie Baudoin. “I learn a lot when I’m here and it always offers reassurance.”
While free time may masquerade as unimportant compared to times of obvious instruction, Pinkner made certain attendees understood that God didn’t call people to be individual Christians, but rather to become integral parts of the larger Christian body.
“How have you been called to serve the body?” he asked students one evening. “The answer ‘I haven’t’ is not an answer. I may have a big role or a small role, but that’s irrelevant because I have been given a manifestation of the Spirit.
“Being called out is the definition of your life.”
For more information about 2007 Collegiate Week opportunities at Glorieta and LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, N.C., visit www.lifeway.com/students.