Monday, September 13, 2010

Incarnational Ministry

There are lots of things you can count on in life at Gordon College. Some traditions draw a lot of attention - like Golden Goose or the Men's soccer game during Homecoming weekend. Other traditions move under the radar, and for the past 25 years faculty and students studying youth ministries have gathered every week for a meal together.

Youth Min Lunch, as its called, has been a special time of incarnational ministry over the years. So what is incarnational ministry? Bob Whittet, professor of Christian Ministries and Director of Church Relations, explains. "Jesus came God incarnate to be with us. Its the pattern of ministry Jesus modeled and the same one that we can model today. We walk with people where they are in life and bring Jesus with us as we minister in his name."

Youth Min Lunch meets on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in the Lion's Den of the Lane Student Center. "Every week our students can count on having lunch with faculty from our department," said Whittet. "It's a chance for students to get to know their peers out of the classroom setting and be a part of something larger when they gather with others in the major." The Youth Ministry major came to Gordon in 1985 with the Barrington College merger and the lunch was started. Last year the name of the major changed to Christian Ministries. "Given the history of this meal, we continue to call our Thursday gathering Youth Min lunch," said Whittet.

Gordon's Christian Ministries faculty, Mark Cannister, Sharon Ketcham, and Bob Whittet, really enjoy this time with students. "Its a chance to get to know students in an informal setting," said Whittet. "And our students get to see us in a different light as well." But this lunch also provides an opportunity for faculty to live out the incarnational ministry style they teach in their lectures and discussions. "In the classroom, we discuss the importance of learning from the example of Jesus who ministered by walking through life with the people.," said Whittet. "By sitting and having lunch with students on a weekly basis we are able to model that very point. We all look forward to it each week."

Though a tradition that spans more than two decades, Youth Min Lunch has become one of the relational touch-points for students in this major. "We sit and talk about a lot of varying topics, depending on what's on our student minds, be it serious or trivial" said Whittet. "This week we talked about an ethical question raised in the Leadership Theories and Practice class regarding the ethics of music and software ownership rights." The discussion? "Can you use pirated software to the glory of God?"

With hundreds of students benefiting from this weekly time of fellowship over the years, it's no wonder that youth pastors from the area often stop by this lunch to visit with students and talk about opportunities for ministry that exist in their churches. "When alumni return to campus for a visit, they will often choose Thursdays so they can come to this lunch. It brings back a lot of memories for us all. Local youth pastors all know, its Thursday, its Youth Min Lunch on the campus of Gordon College."

But this special group of servants, also open their table to perspective students - the next generation. "We work with Admissions to help promote our major and provide connections for visiting high school students with our current students," said Whittet. "It gives them a chance to get to know both faculty and students while they begin to imagine themselves fitting in as a Gordon student. Its fun to meet freshmen during orientation and have them say I remember you from the lunch I went to when I was looking at Gordon."
Photo: Students and faculty at this week's Youth Min Lunch in the Lion's Den.

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