Thursday Night Live at Bowling Green
by LeAnn Corn
Jeans and sweatshirts. _Tunes by the
Goo-Goo Dolls. _Piercings and tattoos. _Real discussions about sex.
Whoa! Can this really
Bowling Green State
University students are worshipping God the Gen-X way or, as they say,
"teh Gen-(why)Y way be getting real". And their reality is
definitely not their parents? church.
Thursday Night Live,
known on this Northwest Ohio campus as tnl, is an alternative church
billed as the church for the new millennium.
climbed to nearly 175 students each week, which organizers attribute to
God?s working through a laid-back atmosphere.
At about 8 p.m. each
Thursday, students pile into the lounge of the campus ice arena for a
healthy dose of tnl. That includes listening to a few alternative tunes by
popular secular groups performed live by tnl?s own band. The atmosphere
is night-club like, with dimmed lighting, a stage and colored spotlights.
Peers talk candidly
about personal struggles, successes and how they found answers in the
Bible. They pray by just talking to God as if He were standing beside
Most college students
are away from home for the first time and opt not to attend church. They
may not want to "waste" a Sunday morning to attend a
"boring, irrelevant" service, according to Jim Poorman, campus
director who works closely with the BG Christian Students organization to
Poorman, who grew up
in North Olmsted, is a 1990 BGSU graduate. "I can relate to the
students because, although I was raised in a Christian home, I just came
here to party," Poorman said.
He had doubts about
the reality of the resurrection of Christ, whether or not the Bible was
factual or what relevance it had to his daily life.
Several guys in his
dorm repeatedly invited him to attend a small Bible study sponsored by BG
"When I finally
decided to go so they would stop hassling me, for the first time in my
life I heard that Jesus had died for me and for everything I?ve ever
done and that He can save me from hell," Poorman said. "I got
saved and I got excited. Now my goal is to turn atheists into
To do that, Poorman
joined Great Commission Ministries based in Worthington, Ohio, which has
planted similar ministries on 30 campuses throughout the United States and
10 overseas, including in Ukraine and Germany.
missionaries at BGSU raise support from churches and individuals and work
full-time to reach students for Christ. They are joined in the effort by
40 volunteer student leaders.
Thursday Night Live
fliers distributed on campus state: "Regardless of whether you?re a
Christian or an atheist, or you?ve just got some questions about ?this
Christian thing,? you?re welcome!"
"Our goal for
tnl is to make this not feel like church," Poorman said. "So
many of these students grew up with negative attitudes about church, and
trying to force an outdated style of worship on them will turn them away
from God for good. We want to show them God is absolutely relevant to
their lives, even if they choose to worship Him differently."
It?s OK to dance
along to extremely loud music in the name of Christ, and it?s OK to have
fun when you?re a Christian, Poorman said.
full-blown worship," he said. "These kids see people really
experiencing God each week. But we don?t ever want to cross the line.
"We play secular
cover tunes to get their attention, but we?re very careful to not choose
music that?s offensive or contrary to what we believe. Most secular
music is just meant to get kids? attention and is really about nothing.
But if we need to, we change a few words to keep it clean."
Although tnl is
reaching the alternative crowd, students who prefer to worship in a more
traditional, yet still contemporary way may attend a Sunday morning
service. Nearly 120 students opt for this service and also participate
throughout the week in small group Bible studies.
abuse, sex ? whatever it is, God says something about it," Poorman
said. "And along with that, God?s Word tells us why we should or
shouldn?t do something and how it will affect our lives."
are not embarrassed to invite their non-Christian friends to tnl because
it?s not a high-pressure, altar-call atmosphere where they?ll be put
on the spot to make a decision. Most of the time these students will
return week after week and later seek out a Christian friend or leader
individually to discuss making a decision to follow Christ.
impact we?re having is that we?re shattering the misconceptions this
conservative campus has about religion," Poorman said. "We?re
shattering the myth that worship has to be subdued and boring or that as
believers we?re all a bunch of nerdy Jesus freaks.
them this Jesus thing is reasonable and deserves a strong, hard
consideration on their part, and we?re showing them why through our own
definitely not your mama?s church!C