Jubilee was a great experience for me. It was really refreshing. I enjoyed great worship, speakers, and breakouts. There was a lot to be impressed with, but one thing impressed me above all else—the serious faith of these students!! Their relationship with God was not just a small part of their lives. It was integral to who they are.
For example, the Hearts and Minds Bookstore (Website) had an outstanding selection of resources around a ton of topics. There were sections devoted to all kinds of careers and interests. For example- art, nursing, psychology, sports, writing… There were a bunch of categories including a very strong theology section. As I was in heaven looking through all the books, I struck up a brief conversation with a girl who was looking at books on a theological understanding of disability and how the church should return. I asked her why she was interested in the topic. She told me that she was a going to be a special education teacher the next year and wanted to know how to be a Christian in that field.
This conversation highlights what was for me the most encouraging part of being a Jubilee. These were students thinking very significantly about living out their faith to have an impact on their world. As one of the MC’s put it, these students were considering how to serve God “in every nook and cranny of their lives.”
The theological content of this conference was deeper and more robust than it has been at a number of pastor’s conferences I have attended. The main sessions of the conference were built around the theological story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. There was intentional Trinitarian language of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in just about all of the sessions and workshops that I heard.
One of the theological topics was imago dei. This is the idea that we were made in the image of God. Several speakers talked about how we were made in the image of God individually but that we are also corporately made in God’s image. In other words, Adam and Eve each have God’s image but also have God’s image together. While I was walking around I overheard 2 different conversations of different students discussing whether we they agreed with this corporate understanding of imago dei. They were concerned that this might sound like pantheism or like a universal salvation. They were engaging with the theology and really thinking about it.
Many Christians in America today would not know what that term even means, let alone be able to think about it so deeply. I wish I could have an influx of these kinds of Christians in my church and in many other mainline churches I know. But therein lies my worry—would these students with their serious faith their high hopes for the future be willing to be a part of a small, passive, and established church in a mainline denomination? Or would they go crazy seeing the passivity of the members of many of mainline churches today?
Despite my worry, I found these students really encouraging for the future of the church. I trust that if they base their lives around pursuing God’s will then God will use them to lead the church into the future. The church is not doomed. There is a new generation of leadership coming. Thanks Jubilee and CCO for your work to help the church and world in this way.