Disclaimer: The following article was entirely written by President Brian Friedrich. No edits have been made to the original content; this article is in response to a question that asked, “We are now approximately xx% LCMS* in our on-campus enrollment. How do you believe we should serve our more diverse enrollment while remaining Christian and Lutheran?”
by President Brian Friedrich
A former colleague encouraged me as I filled pulpits for pastors on vacation or at congregations in vacancy situations to “preach the Gospel.” Recently, I’ve found myself using the same words of encouragement to colleagues when they tell me they will be preaching. At the end of the day the answer to this week’s question is singular and obvious: “preach the Gospel,” “proclaim and practice the love of Christ,” “tell them about Jesus,” “be Jesus with skin on.” Or, in the words of Jesus, “be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”
Each Visit Day I have the privilege of welcoming prospective students and their family members to Concordia. It is a task that never gets old! Sometimes many in the room have visited Concordia; sometimes only a few. In either case it is a privilege to provide a brief overview of the Concordia Experience. As you know, the first and most important point is “the Concordia Experience is Christ-centered.” Whether in the classroom, cafeteria or chapel, our desire is for students to grow in faith in Jesus Christ. For that to happen, it is imperative that all members of the faculty and staff know Jesus Christ, seek to grow in their personal faith and desire to live out that faith on a daily basis as we serve in mission together as the Concordia community.
Some years ago I attended a wedding reception. During the reception, I visited with a former Concordia student. He told me that he came to Concordia to, in his words, “play football” and that before he came to Concordia, he had never seen a Bible. He went on to say that while he left after two years, because playing football was not working out as he had planned, the most important part of his Concordia experience was that while here, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. Thanks be to God!
Our mission compels us to be about the task of equipping students to learn, serve and lead in church and world. That means we must have a vibrant community, faculty and staff who are invested in the lives of our students and excellence in every academic discipline and co-curricular experience. However, it most importantly means that Jesus Christ, the one and only Savior of the world, must be at the center of all that we are as an institution and all that we, sinner-saints, do semester after semester and year after year at this university. We have marvelous opportunities daily to witness our faith, articulate our Lutheran identity and live out our rich confessional heritage, having lifelong impact on every student who studies at Concordia, whether undergraduate or graduate, on ground or online.
So how do we serve our more diverse enrollment? Precisely by being a Christ-centered Lutheran university whose faculty and staff are themselves committed to spiritual growth through Bible study, worship, participating in the means of grace, prayer and mutual encouragement and support. It is my prayer that our gracious God will empower a desire for such growth in each of us.
*The following information summarizes the self-reported denominational affiliations of our residential, undergraduate student body. Based on the Fall 2015-16 census data, there were 1,206 fulltime, undergraduate students on our Seward campus:
- 661 are recorded as LCMS, which is 54.8%
- 125 are recorded as Roman Catholic, the next largest group after LCMS: 10.4%
- 89 are recorded as non-LCMS Lutherans: 7.4%
- 6 are recorded as “no religion”: .5%
For comparative purposes, out of 1,168 fulltime, undergraduate students on our Seward campus in 2001, 948, or 81.1%, reported their denominational affiliation as LCMS.