BJU to change its Sunday morning format: "BJU will eliminate its Sunday morning service on campus"

BJU to change its Sunday morning format

“We believe it is important for our students to develop an eagerness for involvement in the life and ministry of a biblically faithful local church,” says Dr. Jones. “Maintaining faithful church involvement during the college years is vital both to our students’ spiritual growth and to their developing a long-term commitment to the local church.”

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SBashoor's picture

Good for them.

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

TylerR's picture

Editor

Makes sense to me.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

  • Students get out to local churches ... opportunities to serve
  • Churches ... wow ... fine young adults out in local churches ... worshipping with serving there
Ron Bean's picture

One of the reasons given for church on campus in the old days was the challenge of local churches absorbing thousands of BJU students into their buildings on Sunday morning along with providing transportation for those students. Today there are considerably fewer students than when I was there and many more of them have personal transportation. Personally, I think it's a great move. Let's pray that the churches will minister to these students and not just let them fill their pews.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Shaynus's picture

And Ron, I think churches will rise to the occasion for students who have no transportation. Without that knowledge, I don't think BJU would have made the change. 

BrandonM's picture

The pastors were consulted before the decision was made. I think it is a great step in the right direction of emphasizing the local church ministry, and it also lets the faculty and staff get more consistently involved in a local church.

Bob Nutzhorn's picture

I have often criticized BJU for this, so now it only fair that I recognize this major change. Great to hear BJU - great decision.

KD Merrill's picture

Kudos.  A good opportunity for students to get more practical experience.   Most upperclassmen were already doing this - morning services on campus were attended mostly by freshmen (required) and some faculty anyway. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

This is fantastic. And Ron, the increase of students with cars not only cuts down on the number of people needing rides, it increases the rides available for those who still need them since students can ride with other students.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Michelle Shuman's picture

I am speaking as someone who has experienced very directly the problem this could create.  For several years I helped a local (Greenville) church plant to a specific minority group.  I was there to help them get a stable children's ministry going.  The problem was the students (and they were great) were only there when school was in session so at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and in the summer the ministry was not able to continue to reach the children.  We had a ministry that was based on the BJU students being the workers.  I know the criticisms of this, but in reality we didn't have the people to fill in and work the ministry.  Now the ministry has the people and  also don't have as many children coming.  The problem could be that the students will fill the pews and the positions of ministry and then leave empty holes when they leave.  Some of them will suck out of the church and never support the church in service, finances, etc.  Having been involved with the students for many years in children's ministries, as the BJU has lightened the on church requirements there have been fewer and fewer that sought to minister.  Bad training and teaching by parents and pastors or were the one's before only serving because they wanted out of church????  I don't know, but what I do know is I think the churches' first obligation should be to reaching our local community.  I hope the students will become more involved then many currently are, but that they won't overwhelm a church.

Michelle Shuman

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

My experience in Bible college was just like that. Students get involved, which is good, but then a vacuum is created when students leave. Not good. 

Dan Burrell's picture

....will they be allowed to attend the church of their choice or will there be an "approved" list?

(I'm betting I already know the answer.)

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Shaynus's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:

....will they be allowed to attend the church of their choice or will there be an "approved" list?

(I'm betting I already know the answer.)

 

You know the answer, kind of. There is a non-approved list and there is a recommended list. There could be churches somewhere in between.

Larry's picture

Moderator

....will they be allowed to attend the church of their choice or will there be an "approved" list?\

Out of curiosity Dan, does a place like Liberty (where I think you teach some) allow students to attend anywhere?

 

Ron Bean's picture

I'd like to see the churches ministering TO the students that will be attending their churches by including them into the church community instead of seeing them as a fresh supply of choir members, nursery and youth workers, etc.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

James K's picture

It is nice that BJU has come around to a biblical concept of the church, somewhat.  After all these years of "fundy" "baptists" telling us how great BJU is, they are just now starting to act like it.  Of course there will be an approved list of churches.  Students can't be trusted with those kinds of decisions.  They can't be trusted who to read, listen to, what to watch, etc.  They have to be told.  It is all in the name of keeping order.  That way, the students can all chant, "We were just following orders."

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

James K's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

I'd like to see the churches ministering TO the students that will be attending their churches by including them into the church community instead of seeing them as a fresh supply of choir members, nursery and youth workers, etc.

Ron, how else can you keep them in line?  You have to have worker bees.  You have to limit what they learn.  You don't want people growing and learning in a way that could upset created societies.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Rob Fall's picture

Considering BJU is rooted in non-denominational Protestantism, it is good to see it has come to a more Biblical (dare I say Baptist) position. 

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's easy to see good reasons for the change, and I'm not saying it's a bad move.

All the same, I loved the BJU Sunday service and I'm sad to hear of its passing.

For me, the format was helpful. The services in the churches I grew up in, for all their restraint, rarely evoked a sense of doing something transcendent. So I loved the BJ service for all the same things that caused many to hate it: the formality, the seriousness, the rigid order of service, the robes.

Since it wasn't my idea, I guess there must have been some others somewhere who had a similar view, once upon a time.

Shaynus's picture

I don't think the format was helpful for a long term worship experience. Imagine me as a 6 to 22 year-old going to these services. "Mom, why does no one talk to anyone else before the service starts?" "Son, because we treat worship seriously." The actual reason no one talked to anyone else, was that they'd be turned in for disruption, and it was the job of faculty to maintain solemnity. But since when was that a GOOD thing in a worship service? Where's the joy, man? Where's the fellowship of the saints? Where's the admonishing of one another? Where's the laundry list of things that the FMA worship service worked against that should be part of a local church? In what ways did the BJU worship service give a bad example of what church is to many students? Let me count the ways, for they are legion. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I agree that having students involved in local churches is a move for the better, but I also really liked the Sunday morning service, as I was used to a more formal worship setting than most Baptists, and I thought the atmosphere created really helped me with worship.

Dave Barnhart

Joel Tetreau's picture

So I'm thrilled to see this move. There are plenty of churches in the Greenville area - so there should be no problem with students finding quality churches. My advice to students and their parents considering BJ or any Christian or secular school, college, etc.....is to first of all pick a local church to be a part of first, then sign up for classes.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Ron Bean's picture

I agree with Shaynus that the BJU worship services tended to be a little too solemn. (Remember the Bach organ preludes that were often so loud you couldn't talk over them if you wanted to?) 

I suspect that some of this was from Dr. Bob Jones Sr.'s background. Sunday morning in the Methodist church was likely a somewhat solemn affair. The evangelistic brush arbor meetings with their revivalist music were conducted in a more lively manner. Someplace in history (and outside of the BJU campus) the worship service was replace by the evangelistic service.

One thing I liked about the BJU service was that I didn't have to "shake hands with my neighbor" while singing "There's a welcome here!"

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Ron Bean wrote:

I suspect that some of this was from Dr. Bob Jones Sr.'s background. Sunday morning in the Methodist church was likely a somewhat solemn affair. The evangelistic brush arbor meetings with their revivalist music were conducted in a more lively manner. Someplace in history (and outside of the BJU campus) the worship service was replace by the evangelistic service.

Actually, those differences both pretty well represent the fundamental Methodism that was a big part of my childhood.  Sunday morning worship services were pretty solemn, though I really appreciated the serious atmosphere.

On the other side, we had "more lively" evangelistic meetings as well.  Often our revival meetings were actually tent meetings where we put up a large circus-sized tent in a field and had our meetings for two weeks.  Almost seemed like something out of Sheffey.

Dave Barnhart

Ann B.'s picture

It would seem like BJU would be between a rock and a hard place about having a "list" of churches.  I think it would be great if they eliminated a "list" entirely and give students the credit for having good judgment about choosing where to go.  However, BJU's clientele is primarily conservative parents who send their children there precisely because there is some control over such things.  

TylerR's picture

Editor

I have a very negative reaction to colleges, any college, controlling and monitoring every aspect of a student's life. This is probably because my perspective is radically different; I went into the military instead of going to college. If a college rigorously controls and runs a student's life, they'll graduate at 22 and only then start making decisions for themselves. Aren't we delaying the maturation process a bit!?

This isn't the point of the thread, and I apologize for throwing this out there, but going so far as to publish a list of "approved" churches is a bridge too far. It genuinely upsets me. I hope it isn't done.

I understand the students need to be looked after once they're away from home, etc. However, I wasn't "looked after" when I left home. I had to be at work on time or I was in deep trouble. I had to do my job correctly or I was in deep trouble. I had to make "big boy" decisions when I was . . . (gasp) 18!

I am glad I didn't attend undergrad, let alone Christian undergrad, when I was 18. I wouldn't have done well there. I doubt I could have stood for the micro-management. If it has worked for some of you, my apologies. We simply come from very different places.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Linscott's picture

This isn't the point of the thread, and I apologize for throwing this out there, but going so far as to publish a list of "approved" churches is a bridge too far. It genuinely upsets me. I hope it isn't done.

Understand what you are saying, Tyler. At the same time, what if you get students who start attending the Unitarian Universalist Church with the lesbian pastor? What if Mormons start coming, because, hey, they kind of look like us, anyway? Smile I mean, those are extremes, admittedly, but BJU has been to this point a school that represents a particular ideology, and seeks both to train those raised in those environments and supply workers to go back into those kind of environments, at least to some degree. Their parameters may not be quite as specific as Faith's (which was discussed here not that long ago), but they are still there.

The list is not ideal, but if you don't have something like it, I'm not sure the distinctiveness of the institution holds up, ultimately. What would you suggest in its place?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

TylerR's picture

Editor

The list is not ideal, but if you don't have something like it, I'm not sure the distinctiveness of the institution holds up, ultimately. What would you suggest in its place?

Greg - I don't have an answer for you on this one so, in pure blog fashion, I'll just ignore it for now . . . !

I will make three points, one of which may be seen as borderline heretical, but we come from different places:

1. Churches will be tempted to align themselves to BJU, consciously or unconsciously, in order to get "on the list." Churches which do not align themselves will risk losing out on attracting a large body of tithing, energetic workers. Churches will also be reticent to do anything to get "off the list." This will vary depending on the Pastor, obviously, but I don't like the potential for influence.

2. This point is specifically directed at independent schools, not operating as an arm of a denomination. A student (or more likely parent!) is paying the school for a service. That service is an education. Once the student gets the education, the student leaves. I view school as a place where I learn how to use tools in a toolbox. Little more. I like my school. I hope my son goes there. However, it is not a daycamp. It renders a service, which is paid for.

2a. A school obviously must have standards. I'm not advocating anarchy. However, I believe that rigidly controlling every aspect of a student's life is counterproductive to mature Christian growth. It teaches outward conformity to external standards, not inward conformity out of a pure heart.

3. How to achieve this balance? I don't know. I just know I don't like the dictatorial solution we see everywhere so far.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Larry's picture

Moderator

FWIW, Liberty (not considered the bastion of fundamentalism and legalism) has requirements concerning the type of churches that its students can attend.

It seems strained to argue that requiring attendance at certain types of churches is micro-managing or legalistic. Christian universities are (supposed to be) distinctively Christian. That entails certain commitments about ecclesiology, however imperfect they may be worked out. Therefore, it shouldn't seem strange that universities live out that commitment.

My guess here is that no one would suggest that students at BJU should be allowed to attend a Catholic church, a United Church of Christ, or a church similar to T. D. Jakes or Paula White. I rather imagine the issue is that the "list" they perceive BJU will put out will not reflect the one they wish was put out. In other words, the complaint is likely not about the existence of a list, but about the churches that will be on it.

Jay's picture

But since when was that a GOOD thing in a worship service? Where's the joy, man? Where's the fellowship of the saints? Where's the admonishing of one another? Where's the laundry list of things that the FMA worship service worked against that should be part of a local church? In what ways did the BJU worship service give a bad example of what church is to many students? Let me count the ways, for they are legion. 

+1

The BJU Sunday Morning Worship Service, while church like, fulfilled little of the roles of an actual local church and, in my opinion, became another relic of an era that had since passed the school by. While I understand that trying to arrange for the logistics of 2,000-3,000 dorm students (or however many there are) is overwhelming and even ancillary to the purpose of education, I think it would have been better to have a campus pastor, a la PCC, to meet those spiritual needs than to be concerned about creating the right 'atmosphere of worship' for a bunch of young adults that may be, frankly, turned off by their 'one right way' to worship (as I was the first time I attended one).

I don't like the idea of an list of 'approved' churches either, but I think it's a necessary evil for the school so it's hard to knock that.  We shouldn't want a bunch of 18-19 year olds who may be away from home for the first time and who have little to no theological grounding (because, let's face it, people treat BJU like it's a reform school and not a University) deciding that the "church of what's happening now" is what's best for them.  We certainly don't want people who are training for Pastoral Ministry (for example), attending a seeker oriented church with doctrinal issues and getting more unsound while they are being groomed to take church leadership.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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