Giving reason for hope: Campus small-group study kicks off

Photo+courtesy+Calvin.edu

Photo courtesy Calvin.edu

On dreary afternoons around mid-February in Grand Rapids, remembering to remain hopeful can prove especially challenging. Yet as a Christian community, Calvin College has particular reason to hope even on the most miserable days.

This semester, Calvin students, faculty and staff will explore the reason for this hope as they learn about apologetics through Calvin’s campus-wide small group study.

The six-week study begins this week (February 6–12) and will cover questions such as “Why trust the Bible?” “Is Jesus the son of God?” “If God is good, why so much suffering and evil in the world?” “What to do with hell?”

Chaplain Mary Hulst will also preach on these topics during the next six weeks of LOFT.

Associate chaplain Joella Ranaivoson, who played a major role in preparing the small group study and created the study guide, defined apologetics as “giving reason for the hope that is in you as a Christian.” The study will equip participants to strengthen their relationship with Christ and to express their faith in ways that draw others to Christ.

“Giving reason for the hope that you have is relevant for Calvin because we are a community that seeks to follow after Christ, and this is part of our discipleship — growing in faith and understanding of what we believe and the God we love and serve,” said Ranaivoson. “And for members of our community who don’t yet believe, this is an opportunity to explore in an intentional, thoughtful way what it is that this community we’re a part of is so committed to.”

The campus small group study required extensive preparation by campus ministries. The chaplains discussed some of the major faith questions students reported struggling with, and developed themes and topics from those questions. The study also incorporates insights from several key texts such as Timothy Keller’s “The Reason for God” and N.T. Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” and “Simply Christian.”

It is not too late for members of the Calvin community to consider joining or leading a small group study.

Ranaivoson said, “This is an opportunity to learn and deepen in community your own understanding of the Christian faith wherever you find yourself on the faith development spectrum.” The study’s emphasis on community allows group members to learn from one another while also keeping each other accountable.  

“Don’t be scared to join a group because you have questions about the faith,” said Ranaivoson. “This is a place and time to engage those questions with other people.”

This small group study does not require any readings or preparation, but the weekly study guides provide extra resources for participants looking to learn more. Ranaivoson, Hulst and associate chaplain Matt Postma are also available to answer questions.

“If you feel any inkling toward joining a group,” Ranaivoson said, “I hope you follow through on that. We welcome you.”

To learn more or to lead or join a group, visit calvin.edu/go/bible-study.