Thursday, August 7, 2014

August Update, Part 2

Our staff retreat earlier this week was very good. It's an important time for us to deepen our unity in Christ and think through our goals for the coming year. We shared about our lives with each other to deepen our staff relationships. We spent time in prayer and song to deepen our corporate relationship with the Lord. We talked about the values we want to emphasize in our ministry, how we want to articulate them, and the practical ways of implementation. I'm excited about getting this year started!

2014 - 2015 FOCUS Interns

Our Entire FOCUS Staff!


I'd like to give you a snapshot of the next few weeks so you can have a sense of what our ministry will be up to and how you can better pray over it. Before I get into that I'll define a few terms so you can actually understand what I'm talking about!

Core - Our smaller, same-gender communities which involve studying scripture, worshiping the Lord in various ways, and serving others together. It's also a place to challenge and instill courage in one another to boldly do our part in advancing the Kingdom. We consider these groups to be the "core" of our ministry because it's typically where the most growth occurs.
Corefa - Core facilitator. These are the students who have committed to our student leader team for the year. They co-facilitate their core group with a partner and spiritually mentor the members in the group. The staff devotes time each week to these students to support them in their ministry. We view and equip them to be pastors of the community.
FOJ - Focus on Jesus. This is our primary Bible study that each new member is invited to do with their corefa or other experienced member of their core group. It's not a requirement, but we have designed it specifically for our ministry model. With so many meanings attached to the word "Christian" and "disciple" it is helpful to go through FOJ to get a sense of where someone is spiritually and for non-Christians it gives a great foundational starting point to helping them see what Jesus is all about.
FNF - Friday Night Fellowship. This is our large group meeting at UNT, which the TWU ministry attends also.
UNT - University of North Texas. FOCUS has been at UNT for just over 4 years now.
TWU - Texas Woman's University. FOCUS was established at TWU last year and will still be strongly connected to the UNT ministry as it matures.


Here's that snapshot I was talking about...

Corefa Prep

For roughly 11 hours we will have all of the UNT and TWU corefas (44, possibly 46 total) and staff together to prepare for the beginning of the year, specifically for welcome week. This is also our first opportunity to get this team together and help them feel comfortable working with each other. We will have a few different discussions and times of sharing to develop vulnerability and openness. The three focal points will be:
1) Discussing our theme (Words of Life) so the student leaders have a sufficient understanding of the direction we will be going with our teaching.
2) Talking over the welcome week schedule and letting more experienced students share advice about how to best reach out during this time.
3) Sharing our visions of how we see God using us individually and collectively this year to do His work in the lives of others.

Welcome Week

Starting the next morning after our corefa prep is a week of activities planned by the school. UNT requires all new students to participate in several of these events so it's an easy way for our students to meet incoming freshmen and transfer students. We do however plan a couple of extra events like capture the flag and board game nights. TWU has a different schedule with less events, but our goals are similar and methods easily adaptable.

First FNF

This is usually our biggest large group meeting of the year since many new students show up to check out what we are all about. With so many new faces there it is imperative that our regular members take advantage of the opportunity to welcome and befriend them. We don't have a structured system for this - we merely train the corefas to keep a keen eye out for visitors each week so they can initiate conversation. The most important part is the follow through: inviting the new person to sit with them and/or exchanging contact information to continue developing the new friendship. The most common reason people consistently come to a Christian gathering is because of the human relationships they find there. We don't want that to ever be lacking in our community.

Corefa Retreat

This is similar in a sense to our corefa prep because it's designed to prepare the corefas even more for the year of ministry ahead of them. It's different because we have all of the corefas from our larger ministry (well over 100 total) and we prepare them more for facilitating core, leading FOJ studies, mentoring, etc. Also while the corefa prep is geared toward predominantly practical things, the corefa retreat is focused more at the heart level - us challenging and pouring a lot into the corefas to help develop a passion and excitement.



My biggest request at this time is that you would take some time over the next week to pray over the beginning of the school year and specifically the events listed above. Our organization can't do anything without God's power and guidance. Thank you so much for your support! It goes a lot further than you probably realize. I appreciate everything you do!

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Update, Part 1

Today is the first of our organizational calendar which means we are entering the busiest part of the year. August is when everything starts up for the school year. Our new interns started orientation today. Our new staff team will be going on retreat Sun-Tues to finalize plans for the year, prepare ourselves (spiritually, mentally, and emotionally), and spend time together as brothers and sisters. In a couple of weeks the UNT/TWU small group leaders will be meeting to prepare for the craziness of engaging new students during welcome week (Aug 17-24) - there's no other opportunity all year like this where our students can meet and befriend so many people at once. Our first FOCUS big group meeting is on August 22nd and school starts on the 25th. Also as a side note the Denton church we planted roughly a year ago will begin weekly meetings this month!

Please be in prayer over our student leader team, staff, the Denton church, and the beginning of our year. I'll write a longer post after our staff retreat. Thank you so much!

Matt