Emmanuel House is an example of a peritrapezic school - one that meets in a small group around the table. Throughout pre-modern times this method was one of the primary modes of preparing pastoral and theological leadership. Jesus taught thousands on occasion, but the Gospels more often record small group interactions. Universities in the Middle Ages were guilds of faculty or students that featured teaching offered in relatively small groups of scholars who studied with a master. In the sixteenth century, some of Protestant reformer Martin Luther's best - and wittiest - teaching took place around the dinner table. The seventeenth-century Puritans especially used the peritrapezic method for preparing godly pastors to serve parishes in the Church of England. Historians have referred to these Puritan schools as household seminaries.
Though time-honored, the household seminary is a fresh and vital method of on-the-field pastoral preparation in the midst of the marketplace of ideas-the contemporary university campus. Of course, God is present inviting, welcoming, and blessing people there who are very spiritual in their creativity and seeking after authenticity, but who may not know him personally. Today's campus is a very different place than the intellectual academy Francis Schaeffer addressed in his excellent book, Escape from Reason, or than the rationalistic bastion that energetic students assaulted with Four Spiritual Laws in the 1960s and 1970s. Today few have to be convinced of the value of spirituality. Most consider themselves spiritual people, but still don't know the God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ, of whom Paul spoke at the Areopagus. In other words, today's university is much more like ancient Athens than ever before - what better place to gather around the table to learn, grow, and encourage others to be followers of Jesus. What an exciting time to be alive! For more information about our philosophy of education see Liam Atchison's article on the university.
The university community is also a crucible of alternative philosophies and experimental lifestyles. The Academy is a bellwether of society. Many revolutionary leaders of the past and present have recognized that the campus is an important staging area for influence and change. There is no reason for followers of Christ to apologize for the hope they have found in Jesus, and their wish to share him.