Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Year #14 at UTD is Off to a Great Start!

Well, the student leaders have stepped up, the freshmen have moved in, classes have started, and we had a great first Friday Night Fellowship last week!  All of the relationship-building our students did during welcome week paid off—one of the students said he counted 158 people at our first Friday night!  And that’s just UTD—from what I hear Collin had over 90 and UNT over 110!  (Richland hasn’t started quite yet.)  Now the real work begins: pulling those people into our small groups and helping them forge meaningful, spiritual friendships.  Our staff, interns, and student leaders will be working to set up one on one time with each new student and help them to either come to know Jesus for themselves or move forward in their walk with Him. 

As for my personal ministry, August has been crazy!  This is always the busiest month of the calendar year as we try to get everything rolling for another school year.  Probably my favorite thing this month was leading a retreat for our staff early in the month.  Brad’s uncle graciously let us use his lake house for the weekend, and we had a great time growing closer and sharing vision for the school year.  We have 5 great new interns for the school year, and one of the interns from last year, Travis, has joined our permanent staff as campus minister to Richland College. 

Our internship is one of the most strategic things we do for the kingdom and leading it is a huge part of my job.  In the internship, young men and women who have completed their undergraduate education can apply to join our staff for a year.  After being assigned to one of our campuses, they each lead a small group, spend a significant amount of time mentoring students each week, participate actively with our senior staff in the planning and administration of the ministry’s outreach to the campus, and go through a rigorous, year-long study of the New Testament (among other things!).  We want to help each of them develop both their ministry skills and a heart for life-long ministry.  A few will join our campus missions team after their internship, but we hope all of them will go into their churches, their homes, and the marketplace having developed their gifts and sense of calling by serving as a missionary for a year of their life.  One of our outgoing interns from last year described deciding to do the internship as the best decision of his life (I’m assuming deciding to follow Jesus fell into a whole other category!).  

Please pray for me as I try to lead the ministry at UTD while at the same time supporting and leading the staff at the other three schools.  Trying to grapple with all the great challenges that come with growth has been trying this past year.  I’m working on training a staff while God is still training me.  I’m seeking wisdom for all the decisions that have to be made.  More importantly, I need His wisdom for all the opportunities I have to counsel and teach students.  Also, please pray that God will use the student leaders and interns to make and mature disciples to His glory this year. 

I love you guys and I’m so thankful to have you as partners in this mission.  I'll leave you with this encouraging story from a student:

"Last week I got a call from my mom telling me that a friend's mom had passed away. I didn't know her mom very well, but since I had grown up with this girl, I couldn't believe that her mom was gone. She was planning on leaving for college in Oklahoma the next day, but after her mom's heart attack, decided to go to Collin College instead so she could be closer to home. When I heard that, the first thing that came to mind was Focus was at Collin College. I talked to my roommate, who had just transferred from there, about getting my friend involved, but decided to wait until after the funeral to pursue anything. 

"I went to the funeral, and was a little disappointed not to see more of this girl's friends, or the other people that had been involved in the youth group, but since so many other people had just left for college also, it made more since. After it was over, I recognized a girl that I had just met a few days ago, who I knew was involved in CCCC Focus. I thought they must have known each other through something else, but as I got closer, I realized I recognized all of the other girls that were standing with her. Five girls from CCCC Focus had come to this funeral of a stranger! 

"My friend had gone to orientation, and happened to meet one of the girls, and they took it upon themselves to come to the funeral and show her that they loved her. I was so speechless that I probably made a fool of myself. I was amazed at God's love and provision for his children. The body of Christ is alive and moving in Focus, and it is amazing to see people reaching out to others they don't even know. My friend was so thankful to have people that cared about her surround her in this difficult time, and I am so honored to be a part of a community that loves and cares for each other, as well as strangers."

To God be the Glory!

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...