Although some people may shy away from serious discussions about life, politics or religion, students at the College are doing their part to open up the lines of communication. Last month, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IV) began running Quest, a seven-week program designed to encourage discussion of religious issues.
Quest is a video series put out by Image X Media. According to the Image X Media Web site, Quest’s goal is to “engage youth in a discussion of spiritual issues from a Christian perspective.”
The format for Quest is simple. Each week a 35-minute video is shown to everyone in attendance. The videos include three breaks and are each preceded by a question raised in the previous segment for the participants to discuss. During these breaks, anyone who feels comfortable enough to do so answers to the question.
According to Tim Kelman, senior special education major and facilitator for Quest, IV is attempting to create a welcoming environment for this program.
“We start off the night with a meal. Sometimes we get takeout and other times someone volunteers to cook for everyone,” Kelman said. “This gives people a time to unwind and hang out before the video starts.”
The first session of Quest featured icebreaker type questions, such as: What is one of your most embarrassing moments? Have you had any wake up calls in your life? Why do you think people have such a hard time talking about religion? Kelman said these questions were designed to get the participants used to talking to each other, while questions raised in later sessions will delve into more serious issues.
Quest is not limited to members of IV, but is open to anyone curious about spiritual issues and open to discussing them with others.
“The videos give a Christian perspective and answers to the questions raised, but people are free to make up their own mind,” Kelman said. “We really want people to feel free to say what they are really thinking because putting on a front won’t help anyone, especially yourself. We all hope to learn something together.”
Julie Gilbert, junior biology major, was pleased after she attended Quest.
“Quest facilitates honest discussion about life,” she said. “Besides, they feed you. It’s all good.”
Kelman’s personal expectations for Quest were exceeded during the first session. He expected most attendants would be IV members and friends who they invited, but he had no idea how many people would actually show up. He was happy when a total of 15 people showed up for the first session, including people who had just seen the Quest flyers hanging around campus and were curious to see what it was all about. And although he’s excited for that number to rise, Kelman said that the success of the program will not be in numbers.
“Way more important than numbers though, is that everyone really enjoyed themselves (at the first session),” Kelman said. “That means a lot more to me than having the whole campus show up. I feel like spiritual questions are the most important and relevant questions in our lives. They affect everything we do, even down to what we wear and what we decide to have for lunch. I feel very honored that I can help provide a safe place for people to work together to find answers.”
According to Kelman, IV has experimented with various outreach programs in the past, but they have not been met with much success. The ones that were successful followed the discussion format that Quest is now trying.
“We have been looking for a way to connect with people who are searching for something because most of us at InterVarsity were like that at one point,” Kelman said. “We just want to get the word out that we found something and other people might want to know about it.”
As of now, Quest is a program designed just for this semester. However, if things go well, it might be brought back in the future.
Sessions are every Monday night at 6:30 p.m. in either the Travers/Wolfe main lounge or Cromwell main lounge.