by Lisa Neef
September: With the beginning of the academic year, the two existing Christian groups at the university reconvene, and because they have a better advertising campaign, I hit up the weekly worship service run by the Ecumenical Student Union.
They worship in one of the original 5 churches around which my town was built, renting the old building from the Dutch Reformed church, which has no congregation to fill it.
The music is beautiful because it’s made by academics who study music. The sermons – though Dutch – are more or less understandable. Generally, the message is something true and inoffensive, like that being friendly is good and that lying is bad. It feels like a gathering of academics who all agree that the Bible is a nice text to discuss once a week.
The end of the service is a familiar game: people who know each other chat, people who feel they have fulfilled the weekly requirement book it out of there, and there is no reason for anyone to approach a newbie, because there is, really, nothing to say.
It is the Bendable Church: pleasing everybody, changing nobody. Once I’m chatted up by an administrator and when I let on a little bit about what God has done in my life, he looks at me like I’ve just spoken in tongues, and I get the feeling that he’s looking for a reason to leave. Again, I’m left empty and with no real reason to take root in this community.