Friday, August 5, 2022

Developing Our Pastoral Team

We are back in August and ramping up for the school year! We have an amazing pastoral staff, and an outstanding group of student leaders. At UTD, we are planning for 13 men's cores and 13 women's cores! I'm already excited about the four young men that I get to mentor this year, and I'm a little jealous of the ones my team get to meet with. After 25 years at UTD, I love what I get to do and these young men that I get to build friendships with and point toward Jesus. 

One of my primary roles in leading in leadership development at every level of our community. We are planning to innovate this year in the way we develop student leaders, adapting to this younger generation. How can we incorporate more interaction without sacrificing meaningful content and preparation? Students love hearing themselves talk, but often don't have the knowledge-base, context, or wisdom to bring much to the table. On the other hand, we can have the best lectures in the world, but students aren't being shaped by that in the same ways that they used to be. We are using shorter teaching segments punctuated by case studies and stories of personal experiences from students. These exciting experiments are growing out of partnering with our younger staff members--I'm giving specific development and content goals and they are repackaging the material in ways that will speak more effectively to their peers. And then we debrief, of course!

Thank you for investing in and praying for me so that I can invest in and pray for a new generation of leaders for the church!

Please be in prayer for all the new students we will meet this month. Freshmen start moving in at UTD on August 16!

The Global Leadership Summit

My good friend Bob Tiede from Cru offered once again to pay for ten of the young pastors from FOCUS to attend the GLS for the past couple of days. Bob has modeled for me the value of investing early and often in other leaders. The GLS brings in some of the top leadership gurus from the business and non-profit worlds to share their wisdom. It has been a huge help to me and the FOCUS team over the years, and I'm so excited to share it with a bunch of young pastors who have never had an opportunity like this before. They've loved it!

I noticed I was featured in the social media for the GLS site where we attended the conference! Not my most flattering angle, but at least I look like I'm paying attention!

The crew from my staff team at the GLS. We have two more watching from home because they are sick. This is an uber-talented, loving group!

Student Testimony

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Reaching University Students

We're in the middle of summer, and I'm spending my time building our student leadership team for the next school year as well as getting materials in place and events planned for when students show back up in August. I'm looking forward to what will hopefully be our first normal Welcome Week since the pandemic began. 

We have big opportunities ahead and it's looking to be a great group of student leaders that we will be equipping and sending out into our mission field this fall!

Thank you for your continued prayers and financial partnership in this mission. You are changing the lives of students!

Sharing a Great Article 

I recently came across a short series of articles on university evangelism by Tim Keller and his son that I found to be precise and on point in regards to our mission to the campus. It is well worth a few minutes to read. Each of the five points they make is something that we have also learned about reaching students in our current culture. Understanding these can give you insight into why we approach some things the way we do as well as give you more specific things to pray for our mission to the campus.

Read it here:

5 Principles for University Evangelism

Student Testimony

Angeloh is such a neat young man. He's going to be one of our core leaders at UTD this fall!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Partnership in the Gospel

 I'm getting close to finishing the seminary degree I've been working on the past few years, and to that end, I've been taking THREE CLASSES this quarter. What was I thinking? Who knows!?

I've actually really enjoyed getting to FOCUS a lot of my time on learning and growing as the students have dispersed for the summer. One of the books I've read is a commentary on Philippians, and the description of Paul's relationship with that church made me think of those who have partnered with me to bring the good news to college students--namely you!

Reflecting on Philippians 4:10-20, Cohick writes, "On a personal level, some people struggle to accept any gift, because they feel it will tie them to the giver. We have all received gifts 'with strings attached' [that place] the recipient in the difficult position of pleasing the giver rather than God... In this passage Paul declares that they alone, the Philippian church, have supported his ministry from the beginning. Yet the church gives no evidence of directing or manipulating Paul's ministry, teaching, or actions. They do not think of him as responsible to meet certain criteria or goals as contingencies for their gifts. Their relationship is such that Paul can level direct warnings and critiques at their disunity without seeming to fear financial reprisal. Probably part of this godly reciprocity rested in their shared conviction that their gift to Paul was really their gift to God, to the gospel, in obedience to Christ."

I got to the end of that and just sat back thinking, "I've gotten to experience that. What an incredible and rare blessing." Some of you have joined with me in this ministry for many years; others have joined more recently; all have shown this same attitude.

Thank you for living out this little piece of the gospel. Just as the Philippians' partnership was bearing good fruit in cities far away (even in Caesar's own household! Phil 4:22), your gifts and prayers are changing the life trajectories of young men and women on these campuses, and especially at UTD. You don't get to see all the fruit you bear but the Lord sees it all. I pray all of our generosity would continue to build and overflow into all the little nooks and crannies of our world until God's kingdom is everywhere and every tongue joyfully acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! (Phil 2:11)

Student Testimony

Pictures from May

My UTD Men Staff Team for the past year at our End of Year Party

I got to baptize Harrison and Nhala in Mandy's pool. They are both such sweet friends!

We went to SICM again! I got to hang out in Seattle with some UTD and Richland guys.

Sarah and I got a rare moment together at SICM. Even though we are both there, we're very focused on our students, but we happened to be on this ferry at the same time. Doesn't the background look fake!?

Rikk Watts and his wife Katie drove down from Canada one day to have lunch with me and some of my campus directors. Geoff Mumley from CCF joined us!

This was the crew of UTD guys I stayed in a house with all week at SICM. We plan to ask all of them to lead cores this next year!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Heading to Bellingham! First Time Since 2019!

In a little over a week, we will be heading to NW SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) in Bellingham, WA, for the first time in 3 years. We put on our own SICM last year, but it just wasn't the same. Our crew this year is just as big as ever--94 students and 19 pastors! I'm so excited to see the fruit of this intensive training and spiritual development, not to mention the friendships and community that will be built, when we return to our campuses this fall. We're even taking 7 students from Tarrant County College, a new school we started at this year! Please pray for safety, that COVID doesn't disrupt the trip for anyone, and that the Spirit will move powerfully through this trip yet again.

Leadership Pictures

I wanted to share a few pictures of the amazing teams of young leaders that I get to lead and work with each week. God is doing cool things through your gifts and prayers!

This is our UTD pastoral staff for the year (minus Victoria who is out on maternity leave). Through their servant leadership, our community at UTD has come out of the pandemic as strong as ever!

Taylor has been my apprentice this year! Such a blessing to work with him.

Our entire core leadership team doing the UTD "whoosh." These are the students and pastors who led our small groups to reach 300+ students this school year. They are an outstanding bunch!

These are the men in my peer team who I coached in ministry this year. They insisted on sitting in my lap for this picture. They have all truly been a joy to work with. From left to right, it's Jonathan, Jackson, Harrison, Tony, and Taylor. Only Jonathan will be back at UTD in the fall, so I will have a new bunch to invest in!

Student Testimony

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Hearing from Our Seniors

Near the end of each year, we invite all of our graduating students to write a letter, an "epistle," to our community and then read it on video. We've been playing these at our Friday night meetings a couple at a time. I wanted to share a couple of them with you so you can directly see the impact that your partnership is making on campus!

Jackson is one of the young men I've had the opportunity to mentor this year. He's been a great leader to his peers as well as to me. He loves God's word, as you can see by how steeped in it his message is.

Sion has been in both our Collin and UTD ministries. He has worked hard to grow in the Lord and is an inspiration to many others. Everyone knows Sion!

Alumni Testimony

Danni actually worked on staff with us for a year a few years back. She came from China not knowing the Lord, and it was through her friendship with a fellow student in FOCUS that she became a disciple of Jesus who in turn discipled others. Thank you for making stories like these possible! I couldn't be on campus working with these students if you weren't praying and paying. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

A Few Things Coming Up

Student Institute of Campus Ministry

SICM is coming up in May, and our Showcase fundraiser last weekend was a big success! Thank you to all of you who came and were SO GENEROUS!!!

If you didn't get to attend, we have a video you can watch at! You can also make a donation toward sending students to SICM there, but you can watch without any sort of donation. It was a great show, and I hope some of you who couldn't be there in person will check it out!

The big challenge we are facing with SICM is that not many students are signing up. With only a couple of days left until our original deadline, we have less than half of the normal number signed up. It's been 3 years since we've taken students to Bellingham, so we only have a few still around who have been and who can tell the others what it's like. Even with our normal momentum, it can be a challenge to ask freshmen to invest that much time and money to travel with a group they don't know well across the country. This is a year for rebuilding that momentum, so please pray that a larger group will decide to attend this training that has been so pivotal for our mission. 

Spring Outreach

Moving in the other direction, we have two teams of students from Washington State coming down the week after our Spring Break to join our community in doing targeted outreach and evangelism at UTD and Collin College. This is another thing that hasn't happened since 2019, and we are excited to get back to it! Pray for many fruitful, kingdom conversations with students on these campuses.

A Significant Schedule Shift

For April, May, and part of June I will be cutting my hours with students and staff back to take three seminary courses. I'll share more about them in future updates, but I'm excited to spend some more targeted time learning, and I'm even more excited about the prospect of being able to finish my MAT (Master of Arts in Theology) by the end of 2022! This has been a good experience, but I'm ready to have it off my plate.

Thank you for your prayers and financial gifts to make this mission to the campus possible. It is truly not something I could do alone!

Student Testimony

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Lots Going On!

We got to have Winter Camp! It was stressful with all that was going on with COVID, but we still took about 440 people out to Sky Ranch for our first Winter Camp in 2 years. Rikk Watts, who spoke back in 2016, came back to do a set of follow-on lessons. His goal was to present a compelling apologetic, helping young people see that the modern world and most of what we value in it was made possible by the gospel of Jesus Christ. He argued from an extensive understanding of history that the gospel of Jesus Christ is why things change (including technology), why we value humans and human rights, and why modern science is possible (valuing experiential testing over detached philosophy, among others. These young people are understanding in a new way that they can hold their heads high as Christians rather than being embarrassed or trying to hide it. It's heady stuff, but well worth listening to and pondering. You can listen to or watch all of the talks here!

Showcase is on February 26!

We are getting ready for our annual Showcase fundraiser to raise money to send new student leaders to SICM, the Student Institute of Campus Ministry. You can find all the details and buy tickets at This event is SO fun. It's not a talent show, but rather a carefully curated show featuring many of the most talented performers from among our students and alumni. It also features an artisan market with art and various products made by people in our community. SICM is a great deal, but it's still out of range for many of our students, and this event helps make it possible every year for us to continue raising up the next generation of student leaders.

Student Testimony

Thank you for helping make stories like these possible!

Developing Our Pastoral Team

We are back in August and ramping up for the school year! We have an amazing pastoral staff, and an outstanding group of student leaders. At...