The University Church is beginning fall quarter with an innovative sermon series in which nobody knows what topic will be covered—not yet, anyway. The Ask Anything series will cover topics determined by a student committee on a weekly basis and sourced from social media using the #wwuask hashtag.
Many college students face tough issues on a daily basis that are often not addressed in church sermons. Church is not often viewed as the place to tackle these problems head on. University Church senior pastor Alex Bryan wants to dispel that myth with this sermon series.
“In healthy families, no subject is off limits,” says Bryan. “Parents engage their children in subjects that count, in topics the next generation is curious about. This is a series where college students (as the up-and-coming generation) are able to engage the church in matters they deem important.”
Ask Anything, as the name suggests, will give students and members of the community the opportunity to ask the pastor anything. A student committee will scour Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for questions using the #wwuask hashtag. The small committee, led by ASWWU president Zack Brenes, will decide on a question they think is relevant to the student body and general congregation. Immediately following each sermon on Sabbath the new question will be announced for the first time to everyone, including the pastor. The pastor will have a week to prepare a sermon on the topic and present it to the congregation the following Sabbath.
Addressing the tough questions
“We will absolutely be focusing on tough questions,” says Brenes. “I believe that the entire purpose of this Ask Anything series is to open up the floor to literally any question. I believe that we get comfortable engaging with the topics that make us feel at peace, rather than tackling the things that we wrestle with daily. We have been given the rare opportunity to speak—as a church—about these difficult topics, and that is an opportunity that I take very seriously.”
There are many topics traditionally viewed as difficult for Christians to address. Bryan hopes that this form of open conversation within the church will continue to keep it pertinent for young adults. Some might feel nervous about what topics may pop up, and Bryan admits that he is too, but feels it’s important to address the tough questions through open discussion.
“It is my sense that the church is increasingly viewed as an organization incapable and unwilling to engage life where life is happening,” says Bryan. “This isn’t just about having difficult or even provocative conversations but about talking and listening to one another with care, with concern, with a desire to move toward places of health, holiness, and love.”
The Ask Anything series will take place Sept. 24 through Nov. 21. The first question to be addressed on Sept. 24 is: “Believing that the second coming is imminent, how should Adventist Christians react to ever-changing political seasons, media propaganda, and global conditions? What role should we play in all of this?” Students and community members who want to learn more and discuss the question of the week can join Bryan on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in Heubach Chapel for further conversation.
Questions can be submitted for Ask Anything on social media using the #wwuask hashtag or can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch Bryan’s answers live each week at wwuchurch.com where you can also find archives of previous presentations.
Posted September 23, 2016