One of our largest ministries in Portland is at the University of Portland. It is a Catholic school, and one of the few Catholic schools in the country that allows Campus Crusade to be there.
A few years ago, the school administration realized that about half of their enrolled students were Protestant. They felt unequipped to resource those students well, and so they asked us to fill the role of a Protestant campus ministry. We agreed, but they had some requirements.
We were forbidden from evangelizing on campus at all. After all, a Catholic parent who spends $40,000 each year to send their child to school doesn't want them being hasseled by religious weirdos. We agreed. They also asked that we be careful of the content of Bible studies and weekly meeting talks, making sure that the subject matter was theologically neutral, and not overtly Protestant or anti-Catholic in any way.
Anyway...it has always bothered me somewhat that we have been unable to teach our students there how to listen to others and talk about spiritual topics. So back in Decmeber I devised a very neutral questionnaire, consisting of four questions:
1. What has been your spiritual background?
2. How has that shaped you as a person today?
3. How has that shaped your view of God today?
4. Who, in your opinion, is Jesus Christ?
These are questions to explore a person's thinking without offending their theology. At this point, should a student be interested in talking more about these topics, we proposed to the Catholic administration that we would suggest the student attend either the Catholic campus ministry meeting, or our Campus Crusade meeting. Both are University-sanctioned places to discuss spiritual issues, and Jesus is glorified in both places. We promised not to share the gospel on the spot, but to follow up in the safety of the sanctioned environments.
Last week our staff team proposed this plan to the Univeristy's Spiritual Directors, and they loved the idea. So much so that they not only agreed to let us do the questionnaire, but they are going to have some of their Catholic student leaders do them too. This is a level of cooperation between groups and the mobilization of new laborers that I have never encountered before. God is seriously at work on that campus, to the point where he has raised up Catholics to go out and proclaim on campus.
Amazing. Praise God.
This year has challenged my thinking on many things. I believe more and more that Christ can be found in the Catholic church. Protestants have criticized Catholics harshly over the years for being tradition-bound and dead and empty theologically. Not only do I believe that this is an unfair accusation, but I think many Protestants (and Evangelicals too) would be surprised to find the same thing to be true in their own churches. No denomination has the market cornered on ritualistic apathy and a powerless spirituality.
Anyway, God continues to work in Portland. Your prayers are appreciated!