ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Carl Creasman is one edgy dude. Sporting an eyebrow ring and blond-streaked spiky hair, the 38-year-old doesn’t look like the typical Southern Baptist minister. But strike up a conversation with him and you’ll quickly discover his passion for college students, biblical truth and bringing the two together.
Creasman, a former student pastor at First Baptist Church in Winter Park, Fla., is a national youth communicator and founder of Numinous Ministries in Orlando, Fla. This fourth-generation minister has spent the last four summers teaching and ministering during Student Week sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources at the Glorieta conference center in New Mexico.
His message to students is straightforward: If you say you believe in the Bible, know what it says. If you know what it says, live it, and never compromise.
“Carl has the pulse of today’s college student,” said Bill Wade, collegiate specialist for LifeWay. “He understands their heart and their culture. He’ll meet anybody anywhere and instantly befriend them.”
His passion for Generation X is evident when he talks about the challenges that face the generation born roughly between 1962 and 1984.
“It’s the nomad generation — the unwanted generation,” Creasman said. Many of them “end up being the wild kids. … Ask the ‘hardcore Gen Xers’ (23- to 27-year-olds) and they’ll say they barely knew or ever saw their parents.”
Creasman admits that thanks to a rich spiritual heritage his own family life was much different. Though his faith was challenged growing up as he watched his father and the struggles he experienced in church ministry, a turning point came for Creasman when he had the opportunity as a college sophomore to hear Josh McDowell speak at Auburn University. He also dug into the works of scholars such as C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and found a renewed belief in God. Six months later, “God put his hand on me,” said Creasman, who went on to complete two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees in history and divinity at Auburn University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, respectively.
“I want to be one of those guys where every decision I make, especially the big ones, I ask the question, ‘God, what do you want?'” Creasman said.
It is that gut belief that has spurred him to confront some hard issues about the church and Christians today, which resulted in a book waiting to be published titled, “Letters from the Front Lines.” His commentary has bite:
— “The bride of Christ is alive and well in the world, but the truth is that the institutional church in America is in serious, serious trouble.”
— It’s not about the bureaucracy, he said; the problem is people who say they’re Christians yet don’t put their faith into action.
— “Statistics with Christian college students in their dating practices are no different than non-Christians.”
— “Jesus is not an American — he wouldn’t make it in our society. Make sure that the Jesus you’re following is the Jesus in the Bible.”
Creasman believes that many people are following a Jesus created to fit into the cultural norms of America. It’s easier than following Christ as he is portrayed biblically, whose actions would be considered out of line with the country’s postmodern thought.
It’s not enough to say there’s a problem with the church, Creasman said. The ultimate question is one of unity. He asserts that Christians have too limited a grasp of the church’s mission, viewing the Great Commission as the only primary directive.
“In John 13:34, there was a new command that had never been spoken before,” Creasman said. “It was Jesus, saying to the inner circle — ‘I want you to love one another as I have loved you.’ We go past loving each other as ourselves but [we love] as Jesus loved. What is Paul constantly going back to — love each other and be unified.”
That unity, he said, then will be a pivotal factor in drawing people to faith.
“To go where Jesus is, in my opinion, is very costly,” Creasman said. “Our theology is that it’s pretty easy, pretty cool. We have to ask ourselves — are we truly willing to do what it takes?”
Creasman, for one, is willing, eyebrow ring and all.
For more information on Numinous Ministries, Creasman can be contacted at (407) 629-9807 or through e-mail at [email protected] (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: YOUTHFUL HOPE, STATS DON’T EQUAL SUCCESS and EDGY WELCOME.