Playing it Safe

posted Apr 8, 2014, 8:41 PM by Ginger Bowman
It’s a given for my kids to be buckled into a car seat.  It wasn’t for me.  I remember the day when you could spend an entire roadtrip on the floorboard of the car, or roll around in the “wayback” of the stationwagon, and no one thought anything of it.   These days, our kids wear helmets to ride a bike, scooter, skateboard, or anything else that moves.  There is hand sanitizer on every corner and warnings on every toy we buy.  We’re great at keeping our kids safe. 
Most of us in college ministry know that the safety culture has led to the phenomenon known as “helicopter parenting,” where well intentioned parents follow their college freshmen to campus, help them register for classes and even call their professors and RAs when things aren’t going as planned.  We are familiar with the concerned parent that wants us to help them “reign in” their student.  And as much as we may want to be on their side, sometimes, what’s best for the student is for us to realize that we cannot side with the parents.  

What really hangs in the balance when we spend most of our energy helping our students be “responsible adults”?   A gospel message that tells us that if we do not give up everything we have, we cannot be His disciple.  I wonder if, in our 21st century ministries, we’re still preaching that message. 

As I hear from those who send students out on mission every year, more and more often I hear how frequently parents are the reason students aren’t answering the call to the mission field, or to vocational ministry.  They have great intentions. They simply want to be sure their student is safe, has financial security, a steady job, all the while forgetting that when Christ calls us, he calls us to come and die.   Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.   

In Bible study recently, I was challenged by this question, “Can you think of a time when God called you to do something bigger than yourself?”  I think God is always calling us to do things that are bigger than ourselves.  I believe many people in our churches have never really risked anything big for God.  How would our churches be different if they were marked by this kind of “risky” behavior?  What could He do through us?  

Helping students become “responsible adults” is not a bad thing.  And it’s certainly not a bad thing for parents to want the best for their kids.  But what if what is best for them is unsafe?  Unsecure?  Uncertain?  What if that is what is best for the church?  Part of our job as college ministry leaders and mentors is to challenge students and parents to think more deeply about the call of Christ to come and die.  To challenge them to live lives of abandon for the sake of the gospel, knowing that ultimately, His will is the safest place for them to be.  
  • What student(s) in your ministry do you need to challenge to step out on faith and follow God?  On mission this summer?  In their vocation?  In relational evangelism?  
  • What can you do to create a culture in your ministry that helps students to be willing to act with courageous faith?