In Honor of New C.U. President “Smoel Spowel”

5 Mar

note: this is a repost from 2006, but I still find it funny, and poignant. Here is to hoping “Smoel” does something to combat the situation poked fun at here-D

So in our town there is a certain university…a “Christian” university. I must be honest it vexes me to no end. To protect the less than innocent we will not use it’s real name, lets just call it Capstone University, or C.U. for short. The thing that bothers me most is it’s complete lack of regard for the local Church. One of the biggest issues is that instead of really encouraging their students to be involved in a local church (which by the way would profit them for the rest of their lives and make them more ready for life after the U) they have a chapel program that takes up so much freaking time that no one has the energy or inclination to be involved in a church.

As an example one of the guys who attends our church was not able to be involved in a church small group because he had to have so many chapels at C.U. Now the fact that he was married, living on his own, working full time third shift and attending school full time made no difference he had to have so many chapels. The ironic thing is he could get credit for an “on-campus” small group, which often times involves four dudes from “Pincer” dorm sitting around singing songs and talking about the latest video game craze, but he could not get credit for attending a church small group that he had attended before C.U. and that he would attend after C.U. Apparently the C.U. message was, sell your soul to us, disconnect from your church for the next 4 years, make your whole life revolve around our “not the real world” experience and after you graduate you can be involved in the pesky church thing again.

Over the years we have had a harder time getting students from this school involved in ministry than any other school in town (including the States schools). I do not blame the students though. I genuinely feel that the school is at fault. They are teaching their students not to value the church and for those not getting that message they are making their time so busy that they have no time for the church. At this point I would rather my own children went to a State school, at least there we know what we are getting. If they went to a state school they may not have a Chapel program but they would have time for church. They also would learn to be missional adults because every one would not be already saved (or pretending to be already saved).

One time I sat down with the director of their chapel program to discuss this problem. We will call him Chizuck Schwanson to protect his identity. Anyhoo, I sat with Chizuck and discussed this with him. He did not see it as a problem. At one point Chizuck did concede that “Church is not really on the radar of the students.” Wow, not on the radar. What this means is all these kids who grew up immersed in the evangelical sub-culture got to school, and stopped going. If it is not on their radar it is not because they did not grow up in church it is because the got to school and quit going. Someone must be held accountable for that. Either the school or the students. If it is the school then they must repent and find a way to change it, and if it is the students, then the school, as a Christian University must love Christ’s bride so much that they still do whatever they can to remedy the problem. As it is I think they are the problem. Chizuck also told me that they “should do a seminar or something” for the seniors about the value of the church. Loosely translated that means he is fine with the students not attending church for the next for years of their lives and they will take care of the problem latter. Great let me know how that works out.

The biggest problem I think is that Chizuck has no serious ecclesiology and has confused the college with the church. Which is interesting because when I was attending there I often heard the president Lex Dogers say “We are a Christan College, with a capital “C” on both words, but we are not a Church.” So I will bet, and I am willing to take the gamble here that Lex, at least mentally is not down with what is going on. Oh well what are you going to do?I close with the words of David Heslegrave, missiologist: “Any para-church that does not have as it’s primary goal the building up of the local church is not only para-church it is para-mission”…I think that might apply to a University as well. So Chizuck look out your office window at the giant church across the street and say to yourself “Church,” now going into the hall and look around say “School” repeat this procedure till you get it, no matter how long it takes, your students deserve it, and so does God.


21 Responses to “In Honor of New C.U. President “Smoel Spowel””

  1. Heather Fischer March 5, 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    I went to a school like that. They actually served communion and do not allow students to attend churched off campus.
    I didn’t stay.

  2. beckystewart March 6, 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    Here’s a question for you that Heather’s comment brought to my mind: What do you think about groups besides a church partaking of communion? For example, we have a time of worship at GBC called Encounter. One night recently, we had communion. I’ve been mulling over it, and I would like some input.

  3. van March 7, 2008 at 3:08 pm #

    Interesting I never thought of it that way. As an RA at college I often had to encourage (a nice word for it) students to attend mandatory chapel. Now that I think of it I could see more harm then good in subtly disconnecting students from churches buy mandatory chapels or at least not giving them credit for attending and serving a church.

  4. beckystewart March 7, 2008 at 8:48 pm #

    At my school (Grace Bible College) they require students to volunteer at a church for two semesters (they don’t have to be consecutive semesters or at the same church, and they aren’t even required to attend the church where they volunteer). While it’s nice in theory, it tends to teach students to help out and then move on and never actually become a part of the church. Christian colleges have a huge responsibility to emphasize the importance of the church, but how to accomplish that is somewhat of a mystery.

  5. Steve Sebastian March 18, 2008 at 12:00 am #

    The comment by David Heslegrave, near the end of this article, is quite crass in its high handed backslapping of believers who unite to do the work of God in a non-organized local church context. This idea that the organized local churches are somehow entitled to (by some sort of misconstrued mandate) manage and direct the the work and energy of any non-recognized group of Christians falls flat as a Biblical concept and as a practical application. A few years ago, on Mother’s Day, I dragged my wife to Calvary Un-Denom to hear their new pastor (pastor Samra) preach since we had only read a few things by him and I was interested. His sermon began something like this “Mom’s if you want your children to become great athletes then they will have to spend alot of time on the field. And if you want them to become great teachers they will have to spend alot of time in school, but if you want them to become great christians, they will have to spend alot of time in church.”(what church? any church?) What a load of %$&!!#%. Then he said that God is our Father and the church is our Mother.. Needless to say we were all on our feet and heading for the door. Why didn’t he say “spend alot of time in the Word, or in prayer? This is my point. Even John Calvin himself made the arguement to the King of France concerning the Roman Church hierarchy “But they stray very far from the truth when they do not recognize the church unless they see it with their very eyes, and try to keep it within limits to which it cannot at all be confined.
    Our controversy turns on these hinges: first, they contend that the form of the church is always apparent and observable”.(PREFATORY ADDRESS TO KING FRANCIS I OF FRANCE) The concept that Calvin is proclaiming stands in stark contrast to the last statement in the above article “look out your office window at the giant church across the street and say to yourself “Church,” now going into the hall and look around say “School” repeat this procedure till you get it, no matter how long it takes, your students deserve it, and so does God.” Rubbish!
    The reality is that the vast majority of local organized church pastors have come to see “the local church” the same way; always apparent and observable” which are centered around a few key leaders who hold the Spiritual gifts of its congregates hostage by either tyranny or incompetence. and that is one reason that these heretical mega-churches (i.e. Mars Hill), church hopping and non-traditional ways of “assembling ourselves together (i.e. home churches) are becoming so popular. Read George Barna’s book “revolution”. In it he outlines what so many of us have been feeling and experiencing.
    Besides “the local church” these days rarely signifies a group of people who meet together to lift up Jesus Christ as personal Savior, as well as the Owner, Sustainer and Director of it. Telling Christians and Christian colleges to direct their efforts and talents (for the sake of Christ)to “that big church out the window” is reckless and untenable. The truth is that there is One church that Jesus Christ started and I am content to devote my membership (and all that goes with it) to that one alone:)

  6. poopemerges March 18, 2008 at 12:41 am #

    Good Points all but:

    1. The point about Cal-undecided is not that it is the church to choose only that it is different than a college. A college is not a church.

    2. You rightly attribute a quote to Calvin and then ignore that Samara was also quoting Calvin when he said “He cannot have for his father God, who does not have for the church his mother.”

    3. The Church may take several forms but is does have marks: The Word, Communion and Baptism. If you have those Marks you are a church. I worked at YFC, an excellent organization where we evangelized but this was not the church.

    4. Local Churches seem to be on the heart of Luke in Acts, the Heart of Paul throughout, and the Heart of Jesus in Revelation. The Church is the Bride of Christ. Now of course you say yes but that is universal, and I would look for the scripture where we find those mutually exclusive…both are Biblical concepts.

    5. Arguing against the local church based upon bad leaders assumes a couple of things:
    a. That a lot of what claims to be a church is a church. b. that a bad local church is reason to reject the concept altogether.

    I ate a bad Oreo once, this has done nothing to deter my love of cookies. I try to not over analyze my differences with cookies and churches…

    6. Barna misinterprets ancient faith and recasts it it as “pagan” Christianity and is primarily interested in making a buck.

    7. I am a fan of the home church as long as it contains the marks above. I have no problem with that being the students local church.

    8. I further stand by my assertion, not that students should devote their efforts and talents to the “big church” outside the window, but to any local expression of the universal church, not only tenable but further assert, that to assert the opposite is quite untenable.

    Had fun hanging out the other day by the way!


    PS: Samara’s argument “That they will have to spend a lot of time in the church” seems suspect to me on the grounds that I do not want to be a part of any church that requires a lot of time looking “in”…But prefer one poured out.

  7. Steve Sebastian March 18, 2008 at 11:04 am #

    Yes, we are looking forward to going out to dinner very soon:)

    Super sweet research on your point that it was a Calvin quote (one of several that Samara used, concerning “who does not have for the church his mother.” however if you take the 2 quotes together you must come to the conclusion that Calvin is in fact talking about any expression of the universal church, which is not what the local church has become today. Churches should be considering themselves simply congregations of the one true universal church and thereby be not so tempted and drawn away by the fruits of autonomy. By that I mean that there is now hardly a recognizable connection between the vast majority of congregations and the scriptures (by which they get their right to exist).

    It’s a much larger issue than just a group of earnest people coming together to take communion, study the word and do baptism.. That stuff happens out in the bush all the time around the world in an un-organized fashion. Paid staff,sunday school, energetic “worship” are far more the earmarks of the local church that I’m referring to than “the Word, baptism and communion”. By your criteria, these students are doing fine to attend any group that contains these elements. This would apply to Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, United Methodists, ad infinitum. Are you saying that students would be better off attending one of these because they fit the model of “local church”? This is my issue of contention.

    True Church is happening in and out of these visible churches and schools, and organizations and all over, it cannot be looked at “out the window”. Many churches have all but abandoned any true relationship to the Word as I’m certain you are aware. Over and over I hear stories of the “local church” squashing its members’ expressions of their faith because they don’t follow their small-minded, local-church dictate. When the “local church” ignores the program of Christ’s universal church, it then stands in contradiction and is counter-productive. This was Calvin’s problem with the Roman Church, and is my problem with the visible local church structure that has been foisted on those who would dare to believe in Christ.

    There is a divide in purpose between what the colleges are trying to acheive (in educating the students to the point they can make up their own minds as to where they will apply their knowledge.. the very definition of “education”) and the individual local churches desire for seminary to function as a training center for their particular organization. Let’s face it; attendance is down, there’s not enough “volunteers” to help in nursery and now we have have to sacrifice our best and brightest to these seminaries? What if they don’t return?? This is more a real picture of the relationship I’ve observed between seminaries and churches today.
    Samara’s comment about having to “spend a lot of time in church” is typical of the mindset of local churches. Where is it stated that Christians cannot grow unless they are an involved part of a particular local church? If anything, they outgrow these local churches because our current local-church model is unequipped to handle mature believers. Mature believers become less interested in the narrow local church construct and become impatient with the less-mature elders and deacons, and often time pastors as well. The local church than becomes a burden to be bared because it can only take them so far. They actually chase them off as I am certain we have all seen. So the maturing believer has to explore his/her options, higher education or start their own congregation (to name a few), and the cycle continues. This is what Barna’s book so accurately points out. Local churches have for too long been about programs, and if the people don’t fit nicely into the programs then they leave. It does no one any good to argue if it should be happening, the point is to stop it from happening, This is why the concept of deconstruction has gained popularity. Unfortunately the visible engineers of it at present are generally a bunch of heretics

  8. poopemerges March 18, 2008 at 11:22 am #

    Dude excellent point on the fact that it is the universal church which gives the Local church the right to exist. I really love that! It is just theologically solid!

    You will get no argument from me on either the idea that the church has abandoned itself to Americanism rather than Jesus. Programs and other crap are destroying the church. We are pretty honest at CW that one of our purposes is the destruction of the “American” church.

    I have a very narrow definition of what preaching the word is…so the Roman Church and the others you mention would not in my mind be “Church”…my main point was that I am not really arguing for one ecclesiastical structure, my friend George Butler director of BGC church planting is focusing on house church planting. I have other friends who pastor large churches…as long as one is looking like Acts 2 and baptizing, and their conception of the gospel is orthodox then I have no issue with them.

    I also am kinda anti-seminary at this time…but that is just me. I think rather than helping churches they are essentially controlling them. They are the tail that wags the dog…

    I will say this though, I am personally constrained by what I believe the Bible teaches to contend for the local church. I believe the Jesus loves and chose the Church universal as expressed in the local to be his body on earth…so while I support deconstruction I can not support desertion.

  9. Steve Sebastian March 19, 2008 at 8:26 pm #

    fair enough my friend, fair enough..
    but, in all fairness, desertion is not at all what I would ever advocate, I believe firmly that it would be heresy to even suggest it. We clearly have a difference of opinion on what constitutes a God honoring form of church involvement, and I seriously love your honesty in your last paragraph.. though it doesn’t really contain any strong apologetics, it gets two-thumbs up for it’s faith content. And I absolutely believe that you are a guy who ministers by faith.

  10. M February 4, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    Man I’ve experienced this to no end with Christian school youth group kids. The do missions trips and run VBS’s in the summer even. They want to start up a young life club too.

  11. a February 5, 2009 at 4:34 pm #

    my personal fave is the christian schools who have small groups at school, youth groups at schools, and schedule christian school summer events over events of the local church where the “christian school kids” would actually have a greater likelihood of encountering someone who is not a believer. The irony is that all of that event planning is supposedly designed to teach them evangelism. Once we lost short-term missions members because their christian school was paying them to do christian camp, and we were asking them to raise support. hmmm….

  12. poopemerges February 5, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    A and M,

    That is so true…but I am a hardcore public school guy so I am biased…I wonder at what age they expect their kids to become true Christ followers and actually live the mission.


  13. a February 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    The theory is “christian incubation.” In other words, you put them in an incubator of christianity for the whole of child development, with brief forays into “the world,” under very tightly controlled circumstances. The idea is that when the incubator system is removed at 18, they will magically have morphed into a mature christian adult. Although… given that most of these kids then go to Christian College, the incubator continues, and they later meet the “non-christians” they’ve been hearing about for 21 years, in their first post-college job.

  14. poopemerges February 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    Yeah but by that time those same Christian kids will discover that the world can’t party like they have all through high school….

  15. Cara February 7, 2009 at 3:39 am #

    I went to and graduated from Capstone University; in all fairness, the chapel requirement is actually not that bad. I fear your friend may have just been making excuses. I was able to get a chapel reduction my last semester there — I was a full-time student, working full-time and had just gotten married. I went to see the dean of students (someone not mentioned in your post) and said “Here’s why I didn’t attend enough chapels — I’d rather spend time with my husband when I don’t have to work.” Done. He was very gracious and understanding.
    I did have major problems with the chapel program as a whole, especially when I first started there — it greatly improved over time and there were fewer requirements placed upon the students.
    Anyway, I just wanted to point out that it may not be as bad as some make it out to be, and that if you approach the administration with these issues, they do sometimes actually listen:)

  16. poopemerges February 7, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    Cara, this whole post stems from a meeting another Pastor and myself actually had with the Chizuck to try and work through this things…and i guarantee you it is as I say. Trust me one CU alum to another….

  17. Cara February 11, 2009 at 2:35 am #

    When was this meeting? I too had a meeting with “the Chizuck” early in my college career there and had a very similar conversation to what you described. However things seemed to change towards the end of my time there, both from conversations I had with him and other deans, so I’m curious as to when you had these talks…cuz it seemed things were heading in a more positive direction.
    Also, I have to disagree with your final statement: the large building across the street is not “church” either – the group of people who gather in that building or on CU’s campus are the church, so technically “church” is absolutely occurring during chapels and the like. Just saying:)

  18. poopemerges February 11, 2009 at 11:20 am #

    I think it was in 2005 or so.

    Re: My last statement. I think that is common but bad theology… certainly they are a part of the church universal, but what happens on campus is not the local church and this is in fact where Paul puts most of his emphasis. On local communities that preach the Gospel, give communion and Baptize.


  19. Cara February 13, 2009 at 3:08 am #

    Gotcha — I graduated in 2005, so who knows? I felt like things were headed in a more positive direction at that point, but I agree, there was still a long way to go.
    I’ve been thinking thru the local church thing a lot lately, so that’s why I mentioned that. Not the time or place to get into all my thoughts on that though…I will simply maintain that church isn’t a place we go or a building…it is a group of people, wherever they may gather together.

  20. poopemerges February 13, 2009 at 10:13 am #

    Cara, it is a group of people who do certain things and believe certain things whereever they gather together. You are very right that it is not a building.

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