Campus minister Shiao Chong was inspired to host discussions about faith and theology by the “pub theology” trend, but pizza—not beer—is the perk of his relaxed meetups at York University in Toronto.
Theology Over Pizza (TOP) meets weekly for three-and-a-half hours and brings people of all ages, races, and religions together to discuss theology. Set up as an open forum, people drop in and leave when they wish. They may ask any questions they are struggling with, said Chong.
Students appreciate that they can ask questions and wrestle with them and with each other, even if there’s no final answer. They are encouraged by seeing and hearing that fellow Christians, as well as people of other faiths, struggle with the same questions. It demonstrates how much students have in common, said Chong.
Christian Reformed Home Missions funds over 30 campus ministries like this one at York University where campus ministers help students discover what God has in store for their lives.
Attending a college or university is an exciting time, said Chong, to study, experience new perspectives and worldviews, and develop new relationships, but also to grow in faith and engage God’s world.
Chong emphasized the need to create a safe space in which to ask questions. “The best questions come from non-Christians,” he said..
He related the story of a non-Christian student who was attending TOP regularly and asked one day, “What makes the Bible God’s Word? Why not the Quran?”
This question spurred a rich discussion for the Christians in the group. They had to step up and share their faith in a way that many of them hadn’t ever needed to before.
“In these groups, people are free to ask difficult questions, confront contradictions between what they thought about Christianity and what is written in the Bible,” said an alumni of TOP.
“People who want to go beyond Sunday school lessons, who want to learn more about Christianity than what popular culture tells them, have a safe space to express their thoughts, doubts and experiences.”