Monday, October 1, 2012

October Update

So I just made it through my first retreat as a campus pastor!  We just got back from our Fall Retreat Sunday afternoon.  I really wish you could have seen it!  We had over 100 students at Camp Copass (a small retreat center in Denton, TX).  It was a blessing to have the retreat near to campus so several people who weren't able to make it to the entire retreat could come to part of it.  Our main purpose for Fall Retreat is to help our new members become more integrated into the ministry by forming several new relationships.  We don't plan any long teaching times or sermons.  Instead the majority of the time is designed for the students to learn more about each other.  We played some goofy games, listened to a couple of students and a few graduates share about their lives, took communion with each other, and had lots of free time.  Probably the most favored activity of the weekend was the walk and talk.  Essentially everyone is paired up with someone of the same gender by their small group leader to go on a walk and share about themselves.  We did one at the beginning of the retreat and one at the end.  The prompt we gave for the first walk and talk was to share about their spiritual background and at the end of the retreat we asked them to debrief the weekend and share what they learned or what had impacted them the most.  I think it's usually a pretty neat experience for the newer people because it's not normal for them to have such meaningful conversations early on in a friendship.  One of the small group leaders that I live with actually said one of his guys finally clicked with one of the other leaders who he was paired with for a walk and talk.  Now these two guys are also planning to start a one-on-one Bible study.  My roommate told me that this alone made the retreat a success in his mind.  I can't help but agree.

Here are a few pictures of our group:

Due to rain many of our walk and talks became walk and sits :)
This is everyone who was still there Sunday morning.

The basic theme we kept coming back to all weekend (because this is also our theme for the year) is how God has made us new.  You may have noticed the new artwork on our website with the "Everything New" logo.  We took this from Revelation 21:5 when Jesus said "I am making everything new!"  At the retreat we kept asking the question over and over: "How has/is God making you new?"  Our communion time on Saturday night was just amazing.  Halfway through worship I simply prompted them to share how Jesus' death and resurrection has made them new and people shared non-stop for a solid 40 minutes by the time I cut them off.  A few people came up to me later saying they wish they could have been able to share also.  It always brings tears to my eyes when someone (especially someone young) stands up and shares about some intimate way that God has impacted their lives.  This is something I really wish you could have witnessed.  It was especially amazing to see some of the newer people open up because they were encouraged by other people's stories.

Going back to our theme for the year, our sermon series has been really neat.  Amy started it off with how God makes us new and that His purpose is to make us useful again.  Our purpose, or mission, is to reconcile the world with God because that is what He is doing and what he designed us to do.  The next week I talked about what it means to think like new creations.  Everything we do derives from how we think and often we think a lot less than we need to.  God isn't concerned with what we do as much as He is with our underlying motives for doing what we do.  Man judges by mere appearances, but God judges a man by his heart.  Then Brandon followed that by talking about what it means to speak like new creations.  Again, everything you say derives from what you think about.  Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  This week we will be exploring what it looks like to live as new creations.  I would encourage you to think through this as well.  How has God made you new?  How is He making you new now?  How have you been resisting His restoration process?

Again I would just like to thank you so much for your support.  We really put a lot of work into building a Christ-centered community at UNT that is conducive to reaching people and building real relationships.  Things like the retreat this weekend couldn't happen without your help.  I hope that my report on what we do on this campus will bring joy to your heart and be an advance reward for your investment.

Yours for the Campus,