Saturday, January 6, 2018

It's 2018 Already!

Updates

We're gearing up to leave for Winter Camp on Friday, so please be praying for that event. I'm sure I'll have more to report on that after the fact.

Our Keep FOCUS Growing Fundraiser was a huge success! Thank you to all of you who participated and spread the word. We have such generous and passionate donors!

We're already remodeling our classroom space for the apprentices, and we started offering health insurance and a 403b retirement plan to our staff on January 1! I'm excited to be able to look out for the needs of these young men and women as they look out for college students.

New Testament Foundations

This past semester we conducted a ministry-wide survey on the students' theological beliefs. We asked about 60 questions on a huge range of topics. It was encouraging to see where our community is united around historical Christian beliefs, but it also exposed considerable confusion around a number of key doctrines.

After 20 years on campus, I have seen that in some areas, the church has really improved in the way we train and equip our high school students. They are so much more open and vulnerable, willing to talk about tough topics like sexuality. But I've also seen a marked decline in biblical literacy. So many of the students who grew up in church haven't read even a few books of the Bible. They know what they know from sermons and lessons, but don't have a larger framework to connect those lessons to. And that doesn't even address the many students who have little to no church background in our community.

I say all that to emphasize how incredibly important it is that our staff ministers have a solid foundation in the scripture, able to read and use it effectively in our ministry and in our own lives, and to be able to answer the questions that students are constantly asking. This spring I'll be leading our apprentices and young staff members through a New Testament Foundations course. We'll be reading the entire New Testament (of course!), listening to lectures by Rikk Watts, reading a graduate-level textbook titled The Writings of the New Testament, and meeting to discuss the material each week. Please pray for these young ministers to make the most of this time, and that the Holy Spirit would empower them to hear God's word so they can share it effectively.

I look forward to continuing to actively address the needs that we identified through the survey. These classes for our apprentices are just one small part of that!

Student Testimony

Graham Spencer, Collin College, Illustration, Sophomore
"FOCUS showed me what a real relationship with God is. Coming from a Christian private school, I thought I understood God pretty well but I didn't have a relationship with him at all. Through the example of my Corefas, staff members, and just so many other students, I saw what it means to earnestly seek God. One of my favorite moments from freshman year was a talk with my friend, Pedro. We were good friends at this point in the year, and I had become pretty vulnerable with him. We got into a serious conversation about our current walks with God, what that looks like, and why. After poorly answering how my relationship with God was "pretty good", Pedro really pushed my ideas of why I was Christian. I ended up realizing most of my faith was blindly following the laws God had given us, and not really seeking him out. Pedro then opened up to me that he had struggled with the same problem early on in his faith. I'm beyond thankful for Pedro and so many other friends like him who have spurred me on in love. Before FOCUS, this community, I was living half the life I am now. Now, I am living life with God, not just for him."

I look forward to sharing about Winter Camp and how the Spring semester kicks off. We've got some busy weeks ahead! Thanks for your prayers and your support. I couldn't do it without you!

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