There are a variety of ways to find community on a seminary campus. I certainly don’t mean to offer this writing as the only way. Every day I’ve found people gathered in the community room watching football, or a great show. I watch other seminary students looking for people to go running or biking with. Of course, the coffee shop on campus is a great place to find someone sitting alone.
We can find community around something we have in common. It happens all the time. It is helpful to have some friends that you just enjoy being around. Those relationships can certainly be built into deeply spiritual friendships. But how do we find something more? How can we find friends rather than acquaintances?
But, and maybe it’s just because I’m a guy, there is a tendency to keep football watching friends right where they are. It’s too easy to just meet them again next week on the couch. We can be left feeling empty, misunderstood, and alone. Too many seminary students spend their time swimming through a sea of acquaintances. They have met everyone, they share activities with many of them, but they share their heart with no one.
The truth that has helped me out in this arena is that we all are hard on ourselves. We all feel like we are that “one different student”. Don’t let that lie keep you from asking about someone else’s struggled. Share genuine feelings over a cup of coffee, rather than just the day’s news. Invite your football buddies off the couch on a walk along the river.
Invitation, when done well, leads to not just a different setting, and the possibility of real communication. But it also shows interest. We absolutely love it when someone is interested in our lives. How great is it when someone asks you what you think about something? How encouraging is it when someone likes what you have to say that they desire more time with you? We love all of those things. We look to spend with with others that desire time with us.
Why not look to encourage someone else by desiring their opinion, their knowledge, their time, their space?
Ultimately, finding community at seminary needs to be centered around the one thing that is worth unifying in. We must look to unify in Christ. Unity in Christ can withstand differences in doctrine, which, surprise surprise, is incredibly common on campus. Unity in Christ is the only thing that can overcome that.
The seminary experience shouldn’t be gone through alone. It is helped along by friends with common hobbies, but that is no kind of camaraderie. I don’t want to know a seminary experience without a cohort of believers in Christ. Like most things on campus, making it happen really is on you. I encourage you to do things for others that you would like to have happen to you. Ask opinions, value their good decisions, compliment, join with others in this. Your kindness will be noticed, and you will find a place.
By Nate Roschen, Small Town Pastor / Denver Seminary Student / Blog: overproportionate.blogspot.com