Whenever I see that something is “practical,” I typically shy away from it. After all, if being practical is what put our world in the mess it’s in, who needs it? Nic Gibson and Syler Thomas have shaken me loose from that stereotype with their short book entitled, Game Plan: Practical Wisdom for the College Experience. Not only do these authors impress me with their knowledge of Church History (like their references to the Wesley Brothers), but they also stole my affection by including the Princess Bride. That’s right, they quote from the wedding scene. And it fits perfectly with what they’re trying to do: reach young people in college by bridging a gap that many churches have left empty.
One only needs to read the latest Barna survey to realize that college Christianity is either dysfunctional, struggling or nonexistent. This is why Gibson and Thomas do a great job of offering a fresh perspective on living as a Christian in the academic world (which is often anti-Christian). By offering solid advice, like plugging into a good home church and being cautious in your relationships, these guys aren’t saying anything new but rather saying something old in a much needed, relevant manner.
They don’t pull any punches, pointing out pros and cons of both secular and Christian colleges. And they rely on personal testimonies to show that the things they are talking about are very real. One of the pitfalls of many collegiate Christians is thinking, “that’ll never happen to me.” Thomas and Gibson gently encourage students not to hold such a mindset, by offering so many possible scenarios as to cover almost everything.
I was a little concerned when I started the chapter, “Finding Balance,” because as I have matured I have come to believe that the Christian life is anything but balanced. Yet they handled the topic appropriately, and did not paint a false hope (which often comes in the form of “doing X will equal Y every time, so long as I love Jesus”). Instead, their words were seasoned with grace, as the Apostle Paul would say, bearing the distinct hint of wisdom.
Overall, this is the kind of book that has a very specific audience. College students, their ministers and their parents, would be some of the most obvious individuals to read and benefit from this book. And yet, there are sections that I think all Christians could benefit from, no matter their season in life.