Last Thursday, the Emerging Scholars Network hosted our **fifth** luncheon at The Ohio State University. These luncheons have been co-sponsored by the [Fellowship of Christian Faculty and Staff](http://www.fcfs-osu.org/), [Christian Graduate Student Alliance](http://www.osu-cgsa.org/), and [Student Christian Fellowship](http://scfosu.org/), which is the independent Christian Church student ministry at Ohio State.
We gathered three Christian faculty, a postdoc in the sciences, 10 PhD students, and even a couple of undergraduates. Our topic was “What I Wish I’d Known about Graduate School,” based on our recent [Emerging Scholars Blog](http://blog.emergingscholars.org/2011/08/what-i-wish-id-known-about-graduate-school-intro/) series, but more importantly, the faculty and students encouraged one another, build relationships, and discovered that there are **other academics at Ohio State who love Jesus**.
Why do we host these lunches? ESN’s mission is to **help Christian students become Christian faculty**, so that they will have a redeeming influence in higher education. Students who develop friendships with professors outside the classroom are more likely to become faculty themselves. Further, when we ask ESN members what they want us to do, **face-to-face gatherings** with fellow Christians are always near the top of the list. Finally, Jesus himself showed us that **sharing a meal together** can be more than “just” sharing a meal. These lunches provide an opportunity for cross-generational friendships, as well as encouragement for students and faculty who often feel isolated from both their colleagues and fellow believers. It’s also a chance for them to discuss **what it means to follow Christ within the university**.
*Praise God for the work he is doing through these simple gatherings.* I hope that lunches like these will spread to other campuses – in fact, a colleague at another major Midwestern research university is thinking about starting a lunch series himself. If you’re interested in learning more, [let me know](http://www.mikehickerson.com/contact/).
*Photo credit: Howard Van Cleave*