I recently completed a ministry traineeship at Sydney University with the EU Grads Fund and the Sydney University Evangelical Union. Over the next couple of days I'll be posting some of my reflections on the past two years.
Love the Church
"And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church..."
Over dinner at a conference I recently attended I heard a theological college graduand explain his decision to head into full time student ministry in 2012. He said he wanted to be involved in a ministry where he could pastor people, teach the bible and especially see people transformed by the Spirit of Christ and grow in their faith. And as far as he could see, there was no opportunity at all for this to happen in church-based ministry. Hence his move into student ministry.
It was a conversation that made me quite sad. If Ephesians one is right and the church really is the Jesus' body, than the church is something to be loved, and not despised. Jesus is the head, the church is his body, made up of his people, and so you love his church. And I don't just mean your local congregation you meet with on Sunday. I'm talking about the one true holy catholic and apostolic church, the church that God works through to make his wisdom known to the world (Ephesians 3.1-10), and the church that Jesus died for (Ephesians 5).
One of my peculiarities is that I've spent the past five years working parachurch organizations: three years with CMS and two years with the EU Grads Fund/Sydney University Evangelical Union. During my traineeship I've had time to reflect on both organizations and something that has impressed me about both organizations is that they know who they are. They understand that they are not churches, but as parachurch groups they exist to serve the church. Not every parachurch organization remembers this.
For a long time now I've been impressed by how the SUEU and the EUGF have sought to be a blessing to the church. The students in the EU are exhorted and encouraged to not only belong to, but to also thoughtfully serve their local church. The training they receive as students will hopefully equip them to serve not only during their time at uni, but also for the rest of their lives. And vision of the EUGF is to see hundreds and thousands of Sydney Uni graduates flood the church ready to serve wherever they find themselves. It's all about helping the church be the church.
Love the church, because it's Jesus church.