Interviewed by Daniel Peverini
Chris Oberg, senior pastor of the La Sierra University Church, is a familiar presence and vibrant force in our university community.
We asked religious studies major Daniel Peverini to help us introduce her to prospective students.
DP: What is important to the success of a campus church?
CO: A community willing to take its role seriously is vital. Our church members are stunning in their commitment to be a church for the next generations, right now. Our members share their resources generously, knowing that students don’t have money! They train and nurture students in service. They ask students to lead worship. The sanctuary is reserved for students every Friday night and for one service on Saturday morning.
DP: What have La Sierra students taught you about what the “church of today” can be?
CO: I’ve learned that being a “yes” church is possible. We can experiment with ways of experiencing the gospel. If students can imagine it, want to work for it, and the idea meets a perceived need, we can try it!
DP: What makes La Sierra special for students seeking an honest, relevant spiritual life?
CO: Finding people who are not afraid to listen to your journey is critical for young adults. What is beautiful here is that students are surrounded by people who will listen, withhold judgment, pray, laugh, cry, and keep on in the journey. Faculty and staff are here because they understand that this role of journeying with students is as significant as everything else they are doing on campus.
DP: How does LSUC reach out to incoming freshmen?
CO: At the beginning of the year, we collaborate with the Spiritual Life team to offer excellent first worship experiences. And then there is food! Feed a student and the conversation changes. Quite often our church family is baking cookies or setting out a meal. Two years ago we began a program called Food Friendzy, where students are invited to the homes of church members on several Saturdays during the year.
DP: How does LSUC reach out to the local community?
CO: Through our Community Services Center, volunteers (including students) serve about 150 local families every week. Food and clothing are the basic needs. We help people gain access to programs like health screening or nutritional assistance. We’ve also added services as we see the need, such as English-language courses, food handler permit courses, and citizenship classes.