By Adriane Heins
People know LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison as the one who delivered a fiery testimony before Congress or who wove in some of the best jokes at last summer’s 65th Regular LCMS Convention. The side of him they may not often see, however, is that of a dad.
Addressing LCMS college students through an hour-long “Free to Be Faithful” — an educational and awareness campaign explained more fully here — tweet chat the evening of Sept. 3, Harrison tweeted, “I just dropped my 2 sons off to start the new school year.” Then, “The second one’s a freshman. So I have some idea of what’s going on in your life right now.”
Father to two millennial —usually those born from 1980 on — sons, Harrison connected with college students who were given the opportunity to pepper him with questions about marriage, life, religious liberty and a host of other questions via Twitter, using #lcmspresident.
Questions ranged from what a young man considering the vocation of pastor ought to do if his parents don’t approve to what it means to be Lutheran. Worship, Scripture and apologetics were re-occurring themes.
@singdanceact94 tweeted, “Any advice on how to handle being on a campus where many think Christians are crazy?” Harrison responded, “They thought Paul was crazy in Athens. Acts 17. Be who you are. Be gracious. Rock and roll!”
@christwithy asked, “What advice do you have for people who are required to take classes for their chosen major that teach against LCMS beliefs?” Harrison counseled, “It’s good to be tested and forced to dig in. Lutheran teaching can stand the test. It’s just the Bible!”
When @noahschroeder asked, “What’s the best way for a layman to support his pastor?” Harrison quipped, “Give him keys to the lake cabin. Just kidding! Receive Christ’s gifts. Pray for him.”
Chapters of LCMS U, the Synod’s campus-ministry arm, tweeted pictures of college students tuning in to the event, the first of its kind, and continuing the discussion with their own campus pastors.
Those who want to read the discussion in its entirety can find it on Twitter by going to #lcmspresident or on Twubs by clicking here.
As the night drew to a close, Harrison encouraged the students in a series of tweets: “Don’t be afraid. You are Christ’s own. You’re His baptized children.”
“He will never leave or forsake you.”
“He will never give you a burden too hard to bear. You’re going to have a great year in Christ, come what may. So . . .”
Within seconds, the words of comfort were being retweeted by college students who, for an hour, had the undivided attention of a president, a pastor, a Congressional testifier and a dad — all rolled into one.
Adriane Heins is editor of The Lutheran Witness.
Posted Sept. 5, 2014 / Updated Sept. 8, 2014