Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November News

As I sat down to write this and reflected on the past month I was surprised at how fast the time passed. It's the one month in the fall semester where routines are generally solidified and everyone (students and staff) has found a groove for ministry, school, and work. Then November rips everyone out of that routine as the holidays approach, studying for finals begins, and we prepare the students both practically and spiritually for the winter break. To put things in perspective, we have three more big group meetings, then we won't meet the week of Thanksgiving, the next week we can't meet on campus, then finals, and everyone is gone. That's just the nature of college ministry!

Fall Camp

Fall Camp went very well! We had almost 150 students at Mount Lebanon Camp down south of Dallas. I talked in my last post about our goal for camp being to relationally integrate new students into the ministry through various activities and talk about how to deepen relationships with God and people. Each year we do this event I wonder if it's worth all of the work to prepare for a 24 hour camp and I'm always astounded by how effective it is at facilitating new friendships. I guess it's no surprise that bringing a bunch of students into the same space for several hours in a row, challenging them to develop deeper relationships, and giving them opportunities to talk one-on-one with other students actually creates the perfect setting for relational deepening.

Last year we tried to replace Fall Camp with Park Day (6-8 hours spent at a nearby park doing similar activities). The idea was that more people would be able to make it if it was a closer, shorter, and an "easier to come late or leave early" event. Unfortunately, less people actually came! Plus the setting was far from ideal for initiating or deepening relationships with the shorter time frame, many people not staying the whole time, and no overnight experience. Park Day was a great learning experience to say the least!

Leadership Conference

This is a conference that our family of churches started last year in order to cast the vision for how we are going to further the Kingdom. This year's conference was better than last year's (which was already really good), but instead of telling you about what happened there I wanted to share something really encouraging. Take a look at this picture and keep reading:
From our network of ministries (3 churches, 3 universities, and 3 community college campuses) the attendance was about 75-85% college students. Think about that. It's a Christian leadership conference lasting from 8:30am to 5:30pm on a Saturday which was predominantly attended by college students. These students are developing a deep commitment to the Lord and learning how to lead others through that. They are young men and women who God will use to change the world. Now that is exciting!

Please keep us in your prayers!

Pray that our student leaders will be able to end the semester well with their core groups, one-on-one studies, etc. Also be praying that each of our members will be able to effectively use the upcoming holiday breaks to rest, reflect on their year, and be purposeful in spending time with their family, friends, and the Lord.

Pray for guidance as we explore the possibility of starting ministries at UTA and NCTC (a community college district in the Denton-ish area). There are a handful of students who are interested in either transferring to UTA for studies. Also we have a couple of graduates who are interested in moving to Arlington to work and support that ministry. Several students have also expressed interest in doing the FOCUS internship at UTA if we started something there. Additionally, one of our UNT student leaders ran into a NCTC student last week who is currently trying to start a Bible study group there because there aren't any campus ministries. Hopefully we can work together to do something on that campus!

Please also be praying that God provides us with a Christian counselor in the Denton area who we feel good about referring our students to. There is just a great need for professional counseling that my staff and I are not equipped to fulfill. It's incredible the number of people who have had to live with very seriously painful experiences. It's often difficult for college students to find the help they need in order to deal with those experiences in healthy ways either because of cost and/or embarrassment. There are two great counselors we normally refer our students to who charge $30-50 per hour, but they both work about 45+ minutes away from Denton and many of our students do not have cars. Anyway, I ultimately trust that God will provide what we need, but please be praying for us to see how He intends to do so.

Thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers, concerns, financial support, and relationships. I thank God often for all of the people who believe in what we're doing on the college campuses. That encouragement is one of the ways He gives me strength!

Yours for the Campus,