Rice University’s motto is “Unconventional Wisdom.” It is fitting, considering the school’s long history of innovation. At an institution like Rice, campus ministries must show the same type of innovation and practice “unconventional ministry.”
Rice has a residential college system, and each college is required to host one public party on campus each semester. Because Rice allows beer and wine on campus, students at the party typically range from tipsy to inebriated.
The initial reaction might be for the good Christians to stay far away from the type of shenanigans the Apostle Paul warns the church of Ephesus to avoid. But rather than steer clear of this event, the Baptist Student Ministry at Rice seeks to engage party-going students.
BSM Director Andy Dennis was inspired by the work of the Texas BSMs and the Texas Baptist Men during spring break at South Padre Island. During Beach Reach, volunteers serve pancakes to college students.
So, the Rice BSM adopted that approach to provide pancakes to partygoers on campus. Pancakes are easy to make in bulk, cheap and filling. Also, students who drink aren’t imbibing on an empty stomach.
The ministry has been received so well, the college’s party-planning committee even provides the pancake mix, syrup, and anything else we need. The students really appreciate them. If you ever need a self-esteem boost, serve pancakes to drunk people.
The main reason we serve pancakes is to be present with the same kind of people who Jesus was present with during his life on earth. Jesus challenged his followers to spend time with the people the religious groups judged and avoided. He challenges us to do the same thing.
We want to show love to people who would not attend a worship gathering or a Bible study but who will not turn down a free pancake at a free party. It is also a good way to meet new students. Even though they may be more interested in partying than talking to us, we pray that we will be able to follow up with these students later. And if we are not, we pray that these students will have positive memories of a group of Christians who served them.
Adam Jones is campus missionary intern at Rice University, serving with Go Now Missions.