At GRCC this semester we are offering a monthly “Faith and Culture” forum, each facilitated by one of the campus pastors. In February my topic was Science and Faith. As usual, we placed posters around campus and posted the event on Facebook and the campus event calendar. When the time for the forum arrived, so did exactly one student – who admitted as soon as we began to talk that he had actually just come to heckle the Christian students at the forum.
He had been raised Christian but “de-converted”.
As there were no students to heckle I, of course, invited him to have a cup of coffee with me.
What followed was 90 minutes of wide-ranging and very friendly conversation. Science, politics, LGBTQ issues, Biblical interpretation, and minimum wage were all covered. “I have never met a Christian like you!” he repeated several times in the course of our talk. I assured him that there were lots of Christians like me – at my downtown Presbyterian church, for instance. He asked how many people attend my church and I said, “Oh about 1400 or so.” His jaw dropped. “1400” he said, “I thought you were going to say ‘about 40’.” “Nope.” I replied, “I’m not the only one who thinks like this.”
Was our “Faith and Culture” forum a success that day? It certainly wasn’t if you are simply looking at numbers. But in terms of substantive discussion, I would say, yes,
I will likely never know if this student recovers his faith. But he now knows that faithful Christians can believe differently about a variety of topics. He knows it is possible and that he could find a community that would welcome him with all of his questions.