J.L. Miller, Residence Director of the Townhouses and Associate Campus Minister at Houghton College, led about 100 Houghton students through a Sabbath study using the 24/6 curriculum last fall. J.L. holds a Bachelor’s degree in Student Ministries from Geneva College and a Master’s in Youth Ministry from Asbury Theological Seminary. J.L. is passionate about seeing students develop their calling and identity as they prepare to launch from Houghton. J.L. enjoys spending most of his time hanging out with college students, taking walks with his wife, and building Legos with his three kids.
We asked J.L. a few questions about his Sabbath journey and how he shared it with the students at Houghton.
What inspired you to pursue Sabbath and 24/6 last semester?
J.L.: For more than a year, I was part of a number of conversations at Houghton recognizing the lack of balance between work and rest in our community. As part of a plan to address the issue, our chapel theme for the fall semester was work and rest. The decision to use 24/6 came from a desire to help students continue the conversations about Sabbath beyond chapel. I wanted to give students the opportunity to put the ideas from chapel into practice. 24/6 seemed like the perfect resource to motivate practical application. For four weeks we had seven different studies using 24/6 across campus with an involvement of about 100 students.
How did the Sabbath message resonate with those that engaged with it?
J.L.: Students were quick to admit their lives were too busy and shared a sincere desire to establish Sabbath rhythms in their lives. While practicing Sabbath in an academic community can be difficult, the majority of students were interested in trying new ways to make it work.
Did you see any life changes through the study? Do you think it encouraged the campus community to keep Sabbath more frequently?
J.L.: A number of students were encouraged by the study to experiment with different ways to practice Sabbath. Each one who made a serious attempt at practicing Sabbath came back with reports of substantial impact on their lives. Some students made commitments with their friends and roommates to keep Sabbath practices together. Everyone in the study agreed that practicing Sabbath without the support of others seemed like an impossibility. While it is hard to measure changes on a campus community as a whole, I am confident of the positive impact 24/6 has made at Houghton.
What do you hope to do in the spring semester to help students continue to engage with Sabbath-keeping?
J.L.: We have dedicated another chapel speaker, Dr. A.J. Swoboda, to the discussion of Sabbath, reminding students that the topic reaches beyond just one semester. Additionally, each study leader has been encouraged to meet again with their 24/6 group and discuss how people are doing with Sabbath practices. In the long term, I plan to use 24/6 on a semi-annual basis, keeping the importance of Sabbath practices in front of our students regularly. I also have ensured that copies of the 24/6 materials are available for anyone interested in using them.