Words from Wood-Mar
Communicating in the new culture
The emerging church is all around us. It is real and it is relevant.
In this issue, the Journal interviews Visiting Professor Leonard Sweet, who some call America's premier Christian futurist. He reports emergent churches define themselves as being "incarnational, missional, and relational." What I find interesting is that these are the same terms that often define the current traditional undergraduate student at George Fox University. It's a discovery that should not surprise us since many of our students come from these churches.
We must remember that both churches and George Fox University reflect what is happening in the larger culture around us. (And, both also change with the culture in which we live.) For me, this brings us to the heart of the matter: The whole point of George Fox University is to bring culture, education, and ministry into coherence with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must know what is normative and how to bring the historic, gospel message to today's culture with relevance. George Fox Evangelical Seminary, for example, distinguishes itself by inviting people like Leonard Sweet to be an integral part of our Doctor of Ministry program. For traditional undergraduates, programming for chapel brings speakers from the "real world" - speakers who bring relevance to the campus. But most importantly, faculty at George Fox think continually about how best to make learning useful for today's student. They integrate their Christian faith with their disciplines, they bring important questions to the table in all courses, and they seek to provide the highest quality education.
The cultural context of traditional undergraduate students is a regular concern in all of higher education. Today's churches also need to be aware of the cultural context of their young people. The youth of today will be in charge of the church in a few decades. Is it the church's job to change the culture of its young people to fit the traditional mold, or is it more important to adapt how we "do church" for the sake of new generations? While our seminary deliberately is preparing professional ministers, all of George Fox University is preparing church leadership since, for the most part, our graduates are church people. The vast majority of them already are committed to church involvement when they arrive, and others make that commitment while they are students.
George Fox University is deeply involved in this generational concern - both from the perspective of how to effectively educate each generation of students, but also because we prepare students to be effective church members and leaders - both professional and lay. In this issue, you can read about the church they will lead, serving Christ in the context of the church.
Dr. David Brandt