Six years ago, with fewer children and grey hairs, I made the audacious decision to compete in a Tough Mudder. For the three of you unfamiliar with what that is, the Tough Mudder is equivalent to a half marathon with a dozen or more obstacles standing between the runner and the finish line. These obstacles are devised by twisted minds: twenty-foot walls to traverse, a field of electrically charged wires that shock you, massive mud pits to swim through, an impossibly long set of monkey bars to climb across. And of course, my least favorite, the arctic enema.
The arctic enema is a ten-foot pool of ice water that is more like a giant slushy—the kind you have to jump into and swim across in order to continue the race. Of all the obstacles, this is the one I feared the most. But isn’t that the definition of an obstacle? It stands in the way of where you are and where you want to go.
Obstacles are not just limited to the course of the Tough Mudder; they exist all around us, and they exist on the figurative road between the college campus and the local church. Time, sleep, schedules, peer pressure, sports, and academics are just a few of the obstacles that inhibit students from getting connected to the body of Christ. We want to eliminate as many obstacles as possible for students who are apprehensive at best or outright apathetic towards church.
One thing we say a lot at Mercy Hill is that the gospel is offensive and nothing else should be. After all, telling people that they are more sinful then they could ever imagine and how they have no hope apart from Jesus isn’t always the most appealing message. But why should the location of the church or the time of the services be another stumbling block on a student’s journey to Jesus?
Yes, locations and service times are not offensive, but they are obstacles. And even though the message of the gospel is offensive, it is also the greatest message anyone could ever hear. Although we are more sinful then we could ever imagine, we are also more loved then we could ever comprehend. The message that God has rescued us from our sin and separation from him is a message we want to proclaim—obstacle-free and powerfully—to thousands of college students in the Triad.
So, why two College Live services? Because multiplication of services matter if we are going to make the gospel as accessible to our college campuses as possible. Knowing that College Live is closer to High Point University’s campus will allow us to be more strategic with engaging that campus and bridge the gap between the college world and church life. Let’s not forget that two College Lives doesn’t take away from the reality that we are one church, united under one gospel and under the Lordship of one King, Jesus. But let us also not forget that we will stop at nothing to eliminate obstacles in order to see the gospel go forth and our King worshiped by thousands of more college students.
If you’re a college student, INVITE! Have you considered making a list of friends, class members, or teammates that you want to invite this year? Have you been asking God to use you next year to connect your fellow students to the life-giving power of the gospel? School is under a month away, but let’s pray that the Spirit would begin working now in ways that we couldn’t even dream up in our wildest dreams.
If you’re not a college student, pray. Doing two College Live’s is no small feat. Pray that our college staff would have strength this next year to work well and hard from start to finish. Pray that all of the logistics would come together seamlessly as a testimony to God’s ongoing grace in the life of our church. Pray that hundreds of new students, students far from Jesus, would connect with Mercy Hill this year and start a new life in Jesus.
Well, in case you’re wondering, I did jump in. I cannonballed into that slush pit and swam to the other side, got out, and finished the remaining nine miles of the course. Obstacles are no fun, and that’s a lesson I’ve learned the (cold) hard way.
-Jeremy Dager (Executive Pastor of Ministries)