If you’ve ever been (or are now) a student, it’s easy to extrapolate from your own experiences, even though each generation has unique mission pressures and opportunities.
TSCF is all about student mission. We are a fellowship of students, staff and supporters working together to reach students for Christ. The good news about Jesus never changes, but the context is always changing. Several of my colleagues have recommended Jean Twenge’s recent book iGen as one way to continue to understand our mission field. Although Twenge isn’t (yet) a Christian, she does a good job at understanding the times in which we live. The subtitle of iGen is Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Whilst it is a very long subtitle, it does describe in a nutshell her thesis: that the young adults of 2021 are unique and not like previous generations.
TSCF works in the strategic mission field of tertiary students, whatever their age. The majority of students with whom we are engaged are in the 18-25 age range, so it’s always good to observe cultural change as we seek to take the unchanging gospel to a changing world. As can be read throughout this edition of Canvas, we believe that the best is yet to come.
Twenge helps us observe this generation and we believe that for them the best is yet to come in at least 3 ways:
1. Alleviating insecurity: Students can be insecure in themselves, yet the gospel tells each person that their worth is immense as Jesus died for them, giving them a secure identity in him.
2. Removing isolation: Students can be isolated, knowing very few others on their campus and although plugged in and connected to various media channels rarely interact personally with others. Yet the gospel makes each Christian part of the family of God wherever they go.
3. Answering indecisiveness: Students can struggle to make decisions in a world with a plethora of choices. Yet the gospel proclaims that God is sovereign over all things, including decision-making, so the pressure is off because Jesus is alive.
Colossians has long been a book that holds me, that gives me confidence in the firm foundation that is Jesus. It’s always a joy to read Colossians with students, both Christian and non-Christian. In chapter 2 verses 6 and 7 we read:
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Paul is highlighting, to the Colossians and to us, that the way in to faith is the way we also continue on in faith. To become a Christian is to believe in Jesus; to continue as a Christian is to believe in Jesus. If we’re in Jesus we are deep-rooted, or changing the analogy, we are like a strong building. Both images suggest permanence, solidity and longevity. When we have Jesus as our firm foundation, we will be strengthened in the faith, and we will exhibit lives of gratitude.
Student mission has always been about inviting students to meet Jesus, the firmest of all foundations. The context and methods change, as they should. For the current generation we know that the best is yet to come, as TSCF students, supporters and staff work together to reach students for Christ and change students for life. Thank you for being part of the adventure!
Head of Training and Development