With twenty years of experience in college ministry, Abbott is keenly aware of the pressures young men and women face. By addressing relevant challenges and practical hardships with gospel advice, Pressure Points guides readers to see and lean on the person of Jesus, reflecting on important issues in light of the gospel. From waiting on the Lord with patience, learning to fellowship with him in his sufferings, to wrestling with purpose, relationships, and the growing challenges of today’s culture, Pressure Points is a timely and refreshing voice for young people pointing to a bottomless pit of grace. Abbott’s funny, easily digestible reflections to help modern-day college students maneuver their early years toward the gospel, challenging young adults to see their struggles through a biblical lens.
Q: Can you share a little of your background with college students and why your experience helps you speak to them in a relevant and compelling way? How has humor helped you break down walls with college students in your ministry?
Because of my close interaction with college students for nearly 20 years as a minister on campus and director of summer mission trips with university students, I’ve been uniquely tuned in to what they experience and struggle with on a consistent basis. I address those issues head-on in ways others perhaps only write about in theory. I’ve also periodically done stand-up comedy in front of college students for the last 19 years, so I’m well aware of what they find funny and what can bomb, so this book attempts to speak to them poignantly while peppering in humor where appropriate.
Humor has the ability to break down walls in ways that practically no other medium can. As a result, it can be a powerful conduit for delivering gospel truth because so many students are willing to listen and accept a message that comes on the heels of something that makes them laugh.
Q: How does having a sense of belonging change young men and women and how they respond to life’s pressures? How important is authentic Christian community?
The Christian life was never meant to be lived in solitude, and the “I am an island” mentality of our modern culture comes into direct collision with that. Responding to life’s pressure points in seclusion will usually produce a life of disappointment and failure. However, when a student plugs in to a community like a church and campus ministry, he or she then has the opportunity to lean on fellow believers and really begin to tackle the pressures of life in a healthy way. It’s an admission of need (another modern cultural faux pas), but it shapes a heart of humility and character within a student.
Q: Readers may find a few subjects they may not expect in Pressure Points. How important is it for college students to understand concepts such as what it means to wait or to suffer?
Impatience is one of the main character flaws our culture is guilty of today. Since we’ve gotten so used to the fast-paced speed of nearly everything, waiting is not a discipline we value or appreciate at all anymore. The Bible is full of examples of waiting on the Lord, because waiting is a faith exercise and it builds character in a way nothing else can. When young people actively wait on the Lord, it builds a depth in them that leads to the kind of integrity you can’t fake.
Another roadblock young adults stumble upon is suffering. College students don’t often see suffering in the proper way because we’ve been conditioned from a very early age to eliminate suffering of any kind once it enters our lives. I try to help them see that if we want to become more Christ-like, we are inevitably going to suffer in some form or fashion. And as we suffer, we are not alone. Jesus is right beside us in the hard times, both small and big.
Q: How can parents best encourage their children as they transition to college and beyond?
There are, of course, many exhortations a parent can communicate to their soon-to-be college student, but one I think should be underscored is the importance of plugging in to a biblically sound gospel community of fellow believers. Not so their child can be “safe” or “shielded” from the negative aspects of the college environment, but so they can grow in their faith, share their faith, and multiply their faith in a way that invests in the lives of others for the glory of Jesus. The Lord calls us to lean into godly environments of fellow believers who will stretch us and foster an atmosphere of spiritual growth and multiplication (Matthew 28:18-20) that we might pass on our wisdom to others who should do the same.
Q: What can campus ministries and churches do better as a whole in reaching and discipling college students?
In a word: partnering. So many churches and campus ministries balk at the idea of doing ministry together, because “they won’t do it the way we do it.” However, when a common biblical goal is communicated and highlighted between a campus ministry and a church, the Kingdom advances in exciting new ways. That “campus ministry” or that “other church” aren’t in competition with one another—if they are gospel-driven movements, they are perfect for partnering with one another. Many things can be done in a campus ministry that cannot be done in a church and vice versa, so why not unite under the mantle of Christ’s call to be used by him and partner with one another?
The church is kind of like a battleship, and campus ministries are kind of like speed boats—speed boats can maneuver and get into places the battleship can’t in order to complete the mission, but you cannot survive the long haul without connection to a larger vessel. They must partner well, because it’s not an either/or…it’s a both/and.
by Shelby Abbott
April 22, 2019 / Retail Price: $15.99
Print ISBN 978-1-948130-34-9
Religion / Christian Life / Family