CSF K WEEK CATECHISM
WHAT IN THE WORLD’S A CATECHISM?
(AND WHY DO I NEED ONE?)
Catechisms are an ancient tool used for teaching—basically just a series of questions and answers. The basic idea was to communicate some of the most important and obvious truths about a thing. SomeChristian traditions require this after conversion to learn the tenets of the Christian faith. But we thought—why not do a K Week catechism? These are the basic, but important truths, of why we all wear ourselves out for the first week (or so) of every school year.
Q1: WHY DO WE INVEST SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY AND MONEY INTO K WEEK?
A: THE FIRST FEW WEEKS ARE CRUCIAL IN THE LIFE OF A COLLEGE STUDENT.
Life is full of key moments. Think back to your first few weeks of school. Who were the friends that you made? Most likely, the decisions you made in your first weeks of school were significant in defining your college path.
For many people the new school year means new opportunities. This is especially true for freshmen, most of whom are leaving home for the first time. People often make friendships and decisions in the first few days and weeks of their college years that will last many, many years into the future. CSF wants to be here at this key time. Yes, that means a higher investment on our end—more time, energy, and money. But for us to reach students in this key moment in their lives, it’s all totally worth it.
Q2: WHAT DOES HOSPITALITY HAVE TO DO WITH EVANGELISM?
A: HOSPITALITY AND EVANGELISM DON’T HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT COINS, BUT TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN.
Christian speaker Rosaria Butterfield recounts the first Christian friend she ever had. Before her conversion, Rosaria was an outspoken atheist. So it was somewhat surprising when she became friends with a pastor who invited her over to dinner. She expected him to preach at her and tell her about Jesus. Instead, that pastor laughed with her, listened, fed her, and just spent time with her. This radically changed her vision of what she thought about Christians.
People are not projects. They aren’t just an audience we can preach to. They are made in the image of God and have inherent value and worth because of that. Evangelism and hospitality can be done, and even done well, without one another. But when we look at the life of Jesus, we see how he treated “sinners.” He ate with them. He shared his time with them. He was gentle and loving. He welcomed them in. It was the religious people that he preached to.
Jesus’ method of evangelism was, on the whole, one of invitation and hospitality. He wanted to care for the person before he asked them to change. Yes, Jesus asks us to change, but he first says “come as you are.” We want to welcome people in as they are and let this be a place where people can belong before they believe.
Q3: HOW DO PARTIES REFLECT GOD’S CHARACTER?
A: GOD IS A JOYOUS, PARTY-LOVING, HEAVENLY FATHER.
God didn’t need to create the world. He was perfectly content. You’ve probably heard the dust-covered theological term “Trinity” before. But hidden in this term we’re given a peek behind the curtain into God’s character. Namely, that from all eternity God is love and God is loving. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves the Father. The Spirit loves both the Son and the Father and so on. For all time and beyond God was in this joyous, loving relationship. But somehow people showed up on the scene. Why? God didn’t need us. Nope. Not a bit. But he wanted us (Mark 3:13). God wanted us. He loves people. The love that he has for Jesus is, as crazy as this sounds, like the love he has for us.
Think of it this way: God’s life was so wild, so energy-filled, so overflowing it came bursting out into creation. The stars. Mountains. Sunsets. People. It’s all an overflow of God’s loving, joyous self. So when we host parties, it’s one of the fun ways we reflect his crazy joyous life.
In his parables, Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a party. So if you don’t like parties, you might not like heaven. That doesn’t mean you have to like dancing and loud music. But parties, done rightly, are a place where joy is present. The word “party” on campus has been dreadfully abused. C. S. Lewis notes that “joy is the serious business of heaven.”
Reading the news can be a depressing thing sometimes. Hurt and sadness are a part of a fallen world. But we know how the story ends. We know that, as spoken by the great theologian Samwise Gamgee, “everything sad is going to come untrue.” We have cause for great joy. And every time we bring great joy, we are bringing a little bit of the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
When we throw parties, we are allowing God’s inner life of love and joy to spill out. Parties are more than just great fun: they are a form of social protest. We are bringing the light out into a dark world. We are protesting against all of the evil in the world and saying it shall not always be so. We are declaring that this world is a good world and made by a good God. And his joy is permeating our lives.
Q4: WHY SO MUCH FOOD?
A: FOOD DRAWS A CROWD, AND CROWDS MEAN PEOPLE.
Jesus fed the 5,000 and had food leftover. When he was at a wedding, he made sure they didn’t run out of wine. It was scandalous to eat with Gentiles and sinners; yet Jesus was always sharing a table with them. Before Jesus was crucified, he told his disciples to remember him. How? By eating a communion meal.
Most likely, many of your greatest moments of friendship and conversation have happened around a table full of food. Whether it’s a few friends gathered at Chipotle or the family around the dinner table,food allows us to share communion with one another. Not just the bread and juice, but co-union (that’s what communion is!!!)—fellowship and friendship. Of course we don’t just want to feed people’s bellies, but their souls as well. But their bellies are a good place to start. Jesus did it. And he ain’t a bad example for us to follow.
Q5: WHY SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON LEARNING ALL THESE NAMES?
A: KNOWING A FRESHMAN BY NAME MIGHT BE THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE THEY RECEIVE.
God is personal. If CSF is a reflection of God and his character, then one of the ways we do that is through being personal with each other.
Pastor and author Eugene Peterson noted that “as numbers are to the mathematician and colors are to the landscape artist, names are to the Christian.” There’s something sacred about a person’s name. One of the beauties of praying as a Christian, is that we pray in the name of Jesus, our God who has reached out to us, who doesn’t stay hidden behind the
generic idea of “God” because he wants to be personally known.
When do you feel a greater connection with a person: when they say “heyyyy…you” or when they call you by name? Knowing a person’s name shows a person that 1) you listened to them and 2) you cared. Being “bad with names” is no excuse for us—names are a key to a person’s heart and soul.
Q6: WHY ISN’T THERE PREACHING AT PANCAKES?
A: THE GOSPEL TAKES ROOT IN SOIL TILLED BY FRIENDSHIP (AND IRRIGATED BY SYRUP).
Pancakes isn’t a bait and switch. We really do want to just feed people pancakes. We think it’s our way, even if it’s a small one, of serving campus (though of course, we hope there are others). We don’t want people to feel pressured into conversion or feel like we want something from them. We just want them to feel valued. Like someone really cares.
We’d love it if, while at pancakes, those people met one of you fine people. If y’all on CSF Discipleship are there, week in and week out,
starting relationships, those relationships will eventually make an eternal impact. But know that CSF’s heart is first to serve and to share a meal with any student who likes chocolate chip pancakes with syrup on top. And then we’ll hope and pray and see where God will lead that budding friendship.
And yet there is a sense in which we are preaching at pancakes. Hopefully people see Jesus in us by the way we serve them and flip pancakes and run batter and smile. Eventually words will be necessary to tell someone about Jesus (even Jesus used words!) but for now
let’s try to live out “How would Jesus serve pancakes?” I see a HWJSP bracelet coming out of this. Maybe not.
Q7: DO WATER BALLOONS LEAD TO CONVERSIONS?
A: WATER BALLOON FIGHTS AREN’T QUITE BAPTISMS—BUT THEY MIGHT BAPTIZE PEOPLE INTO GOOD LIFE.
Everything CSF does is done toward one end: to make Jesus known on campus. As we pointed out above, Jesus liked to party. He pictured
heaven being like a party. Biblical scholar Ben Witherington has said that “when Christians lose their ability to play—their desire to play, their interest in playing—they are moving away from ‘becoming like a child’ so that they might inherit the Kingdom of God.” Witherington also notes that playing games anticipates the joy of heaven.
Christianity was never meant to be a dull following of rules, but an invitation into Life. We hope our water balloon fight doubles as a
baptism into that abundant and joyous Life. And that in throwing water balloons we become a bit more like children again.
Q8: HOW DOES CLEANING UP AFTER A COOKOUT HELP ME BECOME MORE LIKE JESUS?
A: SERVING OTHERS (ESPECIALLY WHEN WE DON’T WANT TO!) MAKES US MORE LIKE JESUS.
K Week is a lot of fun, but it can also be tiring. Taking out the trash or wiping down pancake griddles at 2 in the morning isn’t on anyone’s collegiate bucket list. While it’s true that serving can sometimes be fun, it can also be hard work. And it may be the times when it’s the least fun that it’s the most soul-shaping.
Brother Lawrence, a famous monk who wrote a book on staying continually in God’s presence throughout the day, said: “We ought not
to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” During his life at the monastery, Brother Lawrence daily participated in menial tasks around the kitchen, but he saw them as an opportunity for cultivating communion with God. Just before Jesus went off to be killed, he washed his disciples feet—a rather dirty and lowly task in those days. Jesus set up a new paradigm for leadership: serving others. He charged us to do the same. Sometimes service isn’t fun, but may we take those moments to commune with God rather than complain.
Q9: THERE ARE SO MANY VOLUNTEERS, SO WHY’S IT MATTER IF I SHOW UP?
A: EACH ACT OF SERVICE IS LIKE ONE MORE LIFE-SHAPING TURN ON THE POTTER’S WHEEL, HELPING YOU TO BECOME WHO GOD MADE YOU TO BE.
Every CSF event is just a bit different depending on whether or not you are there. You have unique gifts that God can (and will) use for building his Kingdom—whether it’s muscles to carry 24-packs of Coke, an eye to decorate the building and make the party more appealing, or even just moves on the dance floor that will get the party going. Even just being here is a sort of quiet declaration that, “CSF is a fun place for a lot of people. I hope it becomes a home for you, too.”
We also have to remember that nothing we do is kingdom neutral. Every choice has an impact on people we are (or aren’t) serving. But it
also has an impact on us. On who we are. So for every decision before you this K-Week—whether it’s choosing to talk to that person off by
herself, take out the trash, or deciding you can skip the event you signed up for—remember that your service affects souls, not least of which is yours.
Plus, if you’ve signed up for a specific role, you have people counting on you. Every party and cookout takes tons of people to make it happen. By not showing up you place extra work on others’ shoulders. Jesus said to let our word speak for itself. And so showing up when you said you would—even when it’s hard and you’d rather binge on Netflix—is part of growing into a Jesus-shaped life.
Q10: DIDN’T GOD COMMAND US TO REST? WHERE’S THAT IN THE K WEEK SCHEDULE?
A: REST COMES ON THE SEVENTH DAY—UNTIL THEN, THERE’S TONS OF GOOD WORK TO BE DONE.
Of course, we don’t want you to run yourself into the ground. But this is a key moment in the life of incoming freshmen. By the time these 12 days are up, most students will have made decisions that will shape their choices and habits for the next 4 years, for better or for worse. This week is all-too-often the moment where students choose to live for the pleasure of the weekend. And so yes, we work hard to show them another way—a better way.
Of course, we want you to take little breaks. Stay hydrated. Get good sleep. Take a cat-nap in the basement. But do so as an act of
preparation, so that you can serve people with contagious joy. Genesis tells us God created in 6 days. We welcome students to
campus for 12. There’s rest to be had at the end of both. But there’s good work to be done until then. And we’re pretty convinced God looks down at the work and impact of K Week and sees that, as Genesis says, it is “good.” Our hope from this K Week Catechism is that you can look at it and say the same: “It’s good.”