On any major college or university's campus, Christian student groups abound. A Christian group can be found for almost any denomination, political stance or other ideology. There's Christian groups for athletes, for sorority and fraternity members, for different ethnic backgrounds. As a new student at a university, trying to figure out which group is best for you can be time-consuming, overwhelming and exhausting, at a time when so much else is already changing in your life.
To combat these feelings, Christian groups naturally feel the need to differentiate themselves. However, this often ends up with groups defining themselves by what they are not, instead of what they are, which often leads to comparisons, and sometimes bashing, of other groups. Instead of defining their own ministries and beliefs, organizations center the dialogue on being "more liberal than this group," "more conservative than that group," "more accepting than the other groups," "we don't judge like that group," and so on. Often the loudest dialogue is simply "we're right, and they're wrong." Instead of acknowledging that different Christian groups have their core beliefs and intentions in common, they focus on what makes them different.
What if, instead, we came together as one body of Christ on campus? Instead of pointing out our differences, we celebrated our similarities? As Christians, at the end of the day, these differences between our theology or our worship styles shouldn't matter. We all agree on our belief in Jesus, and that should be enough to bring us together. We should be supporting all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, not just those we agree with because they're similar enough to our own groups.
While talking with a friend who attends a different ministry than my own, she brought up a new idea she'd been working on: what if, as soon as new students arrived on campus, all of the Christian organizations came together to worship, before any individual group had a chance to host their own programming? Instead of seeing groups trying to point their differences, new students would see the Christian community on campus coming together and supporting one another. They would see how many Christians abound on campus, in an age where having faith and being a student is difficult and increasingly uncommon. They could hear all of the Christian students coming together to form one voice to worship Jesus, instead of many voices rising against one another. New students would discover that they have a home among the entire Christian community, before they even begin to search for a new group to call home as well.
In my experience, when students look for a new ministry or Christian organization to join, they choose one based on community and relationships more than ideology. These relationships will form naturally, and students will be able to feel where they want to get involved and where they don't think they'll fit in. Instead of focusing on what sets them apart from other organizations, campus Christian groups need only to provide a welcoming community to all students and support one another. By appreciating our similarities, instead of focusing on our differences, campus ministry groups will be able to become one body of Christ on campus, and better live out Christ's teachings in the world.