Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's been an awesome beginning!

I'm running about three weeks behind on most of my tasks, but the student ministry is off to an amazing start!  Honestly, I think we've had our best Welcome Week yet on every campus.  At UTD, our 36 student core leaders went out and made tons of new friends, starting with move-in and continuing on through all the campus-sponsored events.  I wish you could have seen these young disciples in action!

One of the students I mentor was sharing with me about how last year he was too shy to meet new people.  So he thought about one of the most outgoing people he knows--Charlie.  Then, when he'd see a freshman standing by himself this year, he'd just ask himself, "What would Charlie do?"  The answer? "He'd walk up and introduce himself." So that's what he did!  And he has about 15 guys coming to his core, only a couple of them returners from last year.  I could repeat stories like that over and over.  These students are willing to stretch outside of their own comfort zones in order to meet the needs they see around them. I'm reminded of Paul writing, "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9).

Had you been at our first Friday Night Fellowship at UTD, you would have stood among nearly 200 students!  Had you attended UNT's meeting last Friday, you would have worshipped with around 250.  I'd be worried except that we have nearly 40 small group leaders on each campus--plus a host of staff and returning students--ready to befriend, teach, and mentor these new people.  God is growing these missional communities, but we aren't losing our core value that ministry is personal--"One on one is how it's done" as my father/mentor Ronnie always says.

After Welcome Week was over, we took all of our staff and small group leaders on a retreat--over 100 people.  Our topic was the Heart of Leadership.  In one session we focused in on the idea of vulnerability (if you haven't seen the Bren√© Brown TED talks on vulnerability and shame, I highly recommend them).  Afterward, each student anonymously wrote a secret on a card and slipped it into a box.  Later that night we had them on the wall for everyone to read and reflect on.  I think you would have had tears in your eyes if you had been there reading those secrets--some exciting, some heartbreaking.  I know I did!  I've included a sampling of them below so you'll get the idea.  Pray for these students and all the others.  If these are the secrets in our student leader's lives, think about the brokenness in the lives of their peers who don't yet know our loving God.  Thanks for supporting me in so many ways so I can be on campus and with students.  Without our partnership, so much Kingdom work would go undone.

These are just a sampling--some were darker, others really encouraging.

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