Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Whither RUM?

Whither RUM?

This writer had an early association with Reformed University Ministries. I was on a joint committee of Covenant and Mississippi Valley Presbyteries which called the very first RUM campus minister to serve at Mississippi State University. As a very young chairman of Mississippi Valley’s Mission to North America Committee I brought the report and enabling motions which led to the establishment of the Mississippi Joint Committee on Campus Work. From 1977 till 1984 I served as Campus Minister at the University of Southern Mississippi during which time the ministry transitioned from a joint PCUS-PCA ministry of Hattiesburg churches to a fully RUM ministry. Then, when the first campus minister was called to serve at the University of Mississippi my father, a ruling elder, hired a truck, and at minimal expense moved the minister to Oxford. Today both of my immediate predecessors at USM who both served as MJCCW Coordinators are my friends and helpers. All this is sufficient to establish that I have a fairly significant connection to RUM.  

Like all ministries carried on by saved by only partially sanctified sinners RUM has always had its share of ecclesiastical politics. The inevitable result of church politics is that people are hurt and sometimes principles suffer. But, recently, in this writer’s opinion, we have experienced something more than the always lamentable but inevitable politics that afflict the church.

The Mississippi Joint Committee on Campus Ministry has lost its unique standing (which served as something of a conservative drag on RUM) and become absorbed into General Assembly’s RUM. The Coordinator, who served for more than 25 years and was at any rate approaching retirement, resigned earlier than he and the Mississippi Committee had planned. The GA Coordinator quickly moved to replace him with a campus minister who had served under the retiring Coordinator.

This introduction is already too long, so I hasten to bring it to a conclusion. The question now whether this recent development is just another example of unavoidable change or something else. I speak for no one but my curmudgeonly self when I say that I think it is something more like revolution.

The anonymous author of what is below has never had an official role with RUM. He is younger than I. But, he has been around long enough to have experienced what RUM was at the beginning and to have a concern about where it is now and where it is going.

It is for the purpose of encouraging folks in the PCA to ask concerning RUM, “Where are we? Where are we going? Where do we want to go? Where should we go?” that the following is offered for your consideration.


QUESTION 1: Shall I attend this RUF group to which I have been invited?
       If yes, go to Question 2.
       If no, then just admit that you are a hopeless nerd.

QUESTION 2: Shall I consider this hip young campus minister my spiritual leader rather than the stodgy old pastor back home?
       If yes, go to Question 3.
       If no, then just admit that you are a hopeless nerd.

QUESTION 3: If the campus minister is my pastor, then doesn’t the campus ministry become my “real” church home?
       If yes, go to Question 4.
       If no, then just admit that you are a hopeless nerd.

QUESTION 4: If my “real” church home doesn’t need elders or the regulative principle, and if I don’t have to take any membership vows or participate in the sacraments, then should I consider all these things optional (or even unnecessary) for other churches too?
       If yes, go to Question 5.
       If no, then admit that you are a hopeless nerd.

QUESTION 5: If RUF provides my basic spiritual “church needs” while away at college, then shouldn’t I look for a similar type of group (i.e., an MNA church plant started by a former RUF campus minister) to meet my needs after I graduate?
       If yes, go to Question 6.
       If no, admit that you are a hopeless nerd.

QUESTION 6: If everything I need spiritually can be found in an RUF-like group somewhere, and all that other “stuff” doesn’t really count, then denominational affiliation doesn’t really matter, does it?
       If yes, go to Question 7.
       If no, admit that you are a hopeless nerd.

QUESTION 7: Since denominations are irrelevant, then I can join the RCA like my old RUF campus minister turned MNA church planter, can’t I?
       If yes, then you are a true-blue modern RUF-er.
If no, admit that you are a hopeless nerd and pursue ordination in Grace Presbytery.


Elliott said...

This comes nowhere close, and actually runs extremely opposite to the realities of RUF as it is today. I have been around RUF's and RUF campus ministers since I was 13 years old, and I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have heard from ministers' and students' mouths alike that RUF in no way replaces the church, it is only an extension of it. Your personal disaffections appear to taint any assessment you make about this ministry and the way God has used it and continues to use it in the lives of so many students, both in Mississippi and campuses nationwide. I would encourage you to interview some actual RUF students and campus ministers.

The Christian Curmudgeon said...

Don't know who you are or what your involvement has been or is, but that you should think that either I or the minister who wrote the piece I introduce would not have knowledge or insight into RUM is a mystery to me. I have been around RUM since about 1975; and he came up as a student in the 70's and has been around RUM for just about as long. Anyway, don't want to argue or try to convince. I remain quite concerned about RUM at the national and regional level, for good reasons I think, though I am quite content for you to think otherwise.