Lunch with a Purpose

Over the years, perhaps what I’ve appreciated most about the Missional Moments is hearing what God is doing on other campuses and gleaning ideas from other faculty.

In February 2020, David Janzen from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo shared a Missional Moment about his “Life Lunches” — connecting weekly with students to talk about anything except classwork. 

I loved this idea of fostering conversations with my students and seeing where God might take the conversation. I call my weekly lunchtime meeting ConXions, and (similar to the Life Lunches), the only ground rule is that our time together not be used as an extra office hour to discuss class material.

When I started ConXions in the fall of 2020, we were in the midst of the pandemic lockdown, and the meetup was by Zoom. While this mode left much to be desired, I had several students regularly attend, and it was remarkably satisfying to get to know them more fully. I loved discovering what drew them to San José State, their hopes and aspirations, and their spiritual backgrounds. 

When the campus finally opened back up, and people could meet in the Student Union again, I made some colorful signs to mark and hopefully reserve a few tables early in the morning for our ConXions group to meet. This worked fairly well, but also led to some serendipitous interactions. 

One Monday, when I arrived at the marked tables, there was a group of five or six students that I did not recognize. When I sat down, I asked if they were here for ConXions and pointed to the signs. Well, it turned out they had not read the signs, and they asked me if they should find another table. I assured them that they were fine to stay. 

The signs and the premise for such a meetup with a professor seemed to spark their curiosity, and this led to a spirited hour of questions and conversation, which to this day has been the most satisfying ConXions meetup I’ve had since I started it three years ago. 

I learned from Heather Holleman’s book, The Six Conversations, that it might take asking questions from multiple categories: social, emotional, physical, cognitive, volitional, and spiritual before you can foster a joyful conversation that can go beyond surface level. 

Last semester, I found it challenging with one student to get very far by asking questions in the spiritual category, but he was effusive about video games. I eventually got to the question of why he was so attracted to video games and learned that it was for his love of a good story. This allowed me to share my sincere desire for him to discover the ‘greatest story ever told’ and pointed him to the Cru website to help in that process.

Maybe something like Life Lunches or ConXions could work for you. Meet with students, or perhaps colleagues, for lunch or coffee – and see where God might take the conversation.

Buff Furman

Mechanical Engineering

San Jose State University

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