Monday, December 7, 2015

Matt Clark's December Update

I hope that you were able to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with friends or family. If not, my heart goes out to you. I'm reminded of my sister, Meagan, in India right now. My family and I haven't seen her since January! Yet even though she was missing her family, she still embraced her time with the friends around her to give thanks for what God has provided. I'm looking forward to seeing her this month when she finally returns (briefly)!

Meagan's attitude of her situation combined with what I read in Joshua recently reminds me of how sometimes our expectations when unmet can cause unnecessary disappointment. This can especially be true during the holidays. At the end of Joshua 17, in the middle of distributing allotments of land to the Israelite tribes, the people of Joseph ask Joshua for more land because their allotment wasn't enough. Joshua tells them to go up into the forest to clear out land for themselves. The people respond with excuses and Joshua's final response rebuffs their excuses and he essentially says, "God has provided what you asked for. Take it or leave it." I can't tell you how many times I've looked at my life and thought, "This isn't enough. God, I need more ______." And the Lord's reply is most often similar to Joshua's response: "It's right there waiting for you to just take it!" I think the disconnect is that we don't want to work for it or we expect something different. We fail to see the good things that God has provided for us and instead see how he failed to meet our unrealistic or subjective expectations. This is a problem because we cause ourselves to miss out on 1) the blessings God has given us and 2) a deeper relationship with Him, which is what actually matters.

So my encouragement to you this Christmas season is to look for the good God is doing around you and praise Him for it! We must be careful not to measure the world by our own expectations of it - that's not fair! God doesn't work by our standards but His own, which are so much better! His ways are higher than our ways.

We are nearing the end of our 2nd annual Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser. This is an important event because it helps provide a means to maintain growth in our organization. As we expand to more campuses and reach out to more and more students, we must grow our staff team. As we grow our staff team, the administrative roles increase and become more complicated. It may not be as exciting to help fund an administrative position as sponsoring a child with World Vision (or something like that), but it's important because of the impact it has on college students. This impact on a few individuals can make a tremendous ripple effect on the lives of many others - in this way, we passionately believe that God will change the world. Sure He is working in many other ways; this is just our calling and we're excited to be called! The money from this fundraiser will go toward many other things like materials for studying the Bible, professional counseling for students who can't afford it, advertising that reaches people we may never have met, etc. - all of which will directly impact college students. I ask that you pray for this fundraiser and prayerfully consider giving. You can either click on the image above or the following link to get more information on the fundraiser and how to donate:

Check out #itsworthit to see why our students
think it's worth it to invest in college ministry!
(If you aren't familiar with hashtags, other non-related items may appear here as well)

Denton FOCUS Christmas party!

Our Christmas party this past Saturday was the last large group meeting we have with our students until January. Please be in prayer for students over the Christmas break, as many will be separated from the community. Although not for everyone, this can be a trying time for newer members of our ministry who have just become serious about their commitment to the Lord and will be around family/friends who may trigger a relapse into old ways of thinking or behavior. Also pray for our Winter Camp attendance. We don't have any other events before camp so it's always tricky getting students to sign up. It's a significant event, not simply because of the teachings we have planned, but more so because of the enormous amount of time the students get to deepen the bonds of friendship within their small groups, campuses, and our entire family of 8 campuses. It's exciting for me, personally, to see my friends from the other schools but I'm deeply encouraged by the deep inter-campus friendships our students develop as well.

Speaking of Winter Camp, I want to invite you to visit (even just for a day) if you are available and interested. We will be at Sky Ranch from Jan 15-18. Just let me know if you want more information - I would love to see you there!

Thank you so, so much for all you do to invest in our ministry. No matter how small, I appreciate your contribution. It's people like you that God's Kingdom is built on.

Yours for the Campus,


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Matt Clark's November Update

The semester is nearly over already! I can't believe how fast the time has gone by, but there is really only a bit more than a month until the students are done with their finals. Please be praying for them as they finish up the first half of the school year.

Here are a few other things to update you on:

Fall Camp

This was our best Fall Camp yet. Part of that is because I've now planned this event a few times and the staff I have is a little more experienced in event coordination than my previous teams, but the major factor I noticed was just how invested our student leaders were in making camp successful. They didn't let responsibility fall solely on the staff. They didn't simply focus on how they could individually enjoy the experience. They took ownership. And their involvement makes Fall Camp what it is. The sole purpose is to help newer members, who have developed friendships in their small groups, now integrate into the larger community. Without the student leaders leading by example, this goal might be impossible.

Additionally, God's Spirit was active throughout that time working in so many students' lives. Our theme was centered around how God works through community and individual relationships to change us. One girl who has been a part of our ministry for a year and a half now decided to change her major while at camp in response to a conversation with a friend. Her reasoning was because the intensity of her degree plan wasn't allowing her to be involved in spiritual community. She had asked herself what would be more important to pursue in the long run?

Another student confessed to me some burdens he had never shared with another person before. He was terrified to do so, but knew that God wanted him to stop trying to deal with it on his own. I'm glad he finally took initiative to seek help.

And there were many more examples like these!

Leadership Conference

You may have noticed we put a lot of emphasis on leadership in our ministry. Well, that's no accident and it permeates through our entire family of churches. Last weekend we had our annual leadership conference (involving our three churches and nine college ministries) which focused on the theme of friendship. Our main goal each year is to continue casting the vision of making and maturing disciples - actively advancing the mission Jesus gave to us through our predecessors at the end of Matthew's gospel. We want to call everyone in our body to be leaders in this mission, just as Jesus does.

I'm convinced this is critical. If we don't call each person in the community to leadership, how can we expect the mission to move forward and expand? This has a lot to do with how much our student leaders invest in their peers. We call every person in our ministry to a high standard, but it's simply what Jesus called people to in His teachings.

The theme of friendship was perfect because of how much our culture struggles with developing healthy friendships. Many things contribute to this, but the point is that without developing real relationships with people it's difficult to actually teach people how to relate with God. How can we expect to be successful in reconciling men to God when we avoid the specific design He intended for us? He made us relational beings in His own image. If our culture doesn't see friendship as a significant thing, then how much less significant does a relationship with God seem to them? And I think we also see this in the passiveness of so many Christians today. So much of what is said in Scripture teaches us who God is and how to treat other people. It's no wonder Jesus says the greatest commands are to love God and love people.

2nd Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative

I had mentioned last month that we are raising funds again this year for the purpose of helping FOCUS in our efforts to continue expanding the Kingdom! To be connected to what's going on, you will need to visit our Facebook page (click the link below) and "like" our page. That will allow you to see the promotional videos we post on your own Facebook news feed later this month.

These are some of the guys I mentor at UNT!
(Left to Right: Bradley, Jason, me, Sergio, Pedro)

If you would like to pray for any, or all, of our campuses, we have compiled a simple prayer for each one below. We appreciate all of your prayers and I especially want to thank you for supporting what we do on the college campuses - it makes all the difference!

Yours for the Campus,


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Matt Clark's October Update

I'm excited to update you on a few things going on!

One thing is our new NCTC FOCUS community is developing slowly. It can be a little discouraging to the student leaders at times, but building community on a community college is ironically very difficult! Still they have been busy developing one-on-one relationships with students they have met on campus. We are currently planning to have an initial larger group fellowship/worship meeting near the end of October. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes! Please be praying for God to direct us on that campus and to build His Kingdom there through this emerging community. There is no other Christian organization on this we believe God will use us to change this.

Here are some of the students we have been developing friendships with:
Fall Camp is coming up next weekend! This is an event we do every year a few weeks into Fall semester. Now that most of our students have joined a Core group and developed friendships there, we use Fall Camp as a way to help new students integrate more into the larger community. Our returning students even pay a higher cost for camp to offset the cost for new students. I'm very encouraged by how much our community believes in the importance of being unified. Please be praying for these goals to be accomplished: all of our new students will attend Fall Camp if they are able and will be able to develop several new friendships within the larger community.

This week I started my class with the new intern group. Many of the senior staff members teach various classes to the interns throughout the year as a part of the academic portion of their internship. Personally, it's something that I really enjoy because I don't get to spend much time around that group (in Denton we only have one intern, Aaron, and there are 14 total!). What's even more exciting is I get to help them think through the depths of relating with God in my class, titled "Pursuing God." We will be talking through spiritual disciplines that have been practiced by many influential Christians throughout history and work toward incorporating them more and more into their lives. Please be praying for this because what the interns learn and develop in their personal lives has a tremendous impact on our students. We want to constantly be growing our staff and interns to be better ministers.
Here is Aaron! We took a goofy picture of us pretending to be in the middle of an intense mentoring meeting.
This is our weekly Denton staff meeting! These are the amazing Jesus followers I get to work with.

One last thing...

How We Used the #FOCUS140 Money

So almost a year ago we launched our 1st Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative (#FOCUS140) and raised $31,000 to keep FOCUS going and growing!

In the 10 months since then, so much has happened. Together with your help, we:

  • Established a major new ministry at UT Arlington and started groups at both NCTC and TWU Dallas as well. This means we are reaching students on 9 campuses now!
  • Finished establishing FOCUS as a separate church legally, which protects our assets and ensures they will be used for campus missions in the years to come. It also gives us increased flexibility to meet the specific needs of our mission field.
  • Launched a new website to meet administrative needs and better communicate with incoming students.
  • Welcomed 14 new full-time interns, our largest class to date.
  • Trained more than 150 student small group leaders to be missionaries to their campuses!

We are poised and ready for future opportunities because of those generous gifts. We've outlined below (in rounded numbers) how we spent that money. We tried to keep it general, but I'm happy to answer more specific questions as needed.

UTA launch expenses (leader retreat, moving expenses, sound equipment, etc)
Outreach and advertising to new students (for 9 campuses)
Printing FOJ books for the new year (enough for 675 one-on-one Bible studies!)
Staff development (seminary coursework and staff prep days)
Paying for counseling for students (who need it but can't afford it)
New website (design, launch, and first year)
Internship expenses to help fund 14 interns (books, event costs, etc)
Legal expenses and fees as we finalized our new corporation
Prepping 150+ student leaders for the year (materials and meals)

A special "Thank You!" to all of you who gave. Our 2nd Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative will launch in November! Stay tuned for details.

Aside from that, I want to thank you for your continued support of the ministry we do. It doesn't go unnoticed and it is making a difference in the lives of college students from all over the world. One example is the student testimony below. This is a direct result of ministry partners like you (click the image to see a larger version):

Yours for the Campus,


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Matt Clark's September Update

God has answered our prayers on the Denton campuses!

We have been asking all summer that God would prepare the hearts of students at UNT, TWU, and NCTC for the beginning of the school year when we attempt to meet as many as possible. I don't think I've ever seen so many people open to Christian community (believers and non-believers alike) as I have in the last few weeks! It's amazing.

At the University of North Texas many of the students have not only been open to starting new friendships, but have been very aware of the undeserved kindness extended to them. I've heard from many of our student leaders that the people they have invested time into have expressed their gratitude for this. Additionally, so many of the non-believers that our students have met are interested in being involved with our community!

We had about 200 students at our first two Friday Night Fellowship meetings this year at UNT!

A little blurry, sorry!

When I helped move new students in at Texas Woman's University, all but one was excited to be invited to check out our ministry. And even that one person was already connected to another ministry on campus! I was baffled by that since only two years ago this campus was plagued with a spiritual darkness that seemingly resisted our efforts at every turn. A lot of prayer has been lifted up toward TWU and God has clearly moved here.

A few student leaders, and several new students met during move in day at TWU!

With our new ministry plant at North Central Texas College we have mainly been "testing the waters" on campus. We had no idea what to expect. In comparison to the darkness we first experienced at TWU, there was nothing at NCTC - no dark spiritual powers nor a single Christian ministry (at their Corinth campus; I hear they have a great Christian representation at their main campus in Gainesville, 40 minutes north). This neutrality was interesting. Did Satan not see this community college campus worth his time? How many college ministries have you heard of at a community college after all? Many students are there for two years working on their associates degree before going to a university. So often these two years are seen as almost a waste of time, simply necessary to get to a school where their time will actually matter. But those two years matter and we can't ignore the students there! We want to be there to befriend whoever is open to spiritual friendships. We want to invest time making disciples even at the community colleges around us. We think that time is just as precious as any other time.

For the last two weeks a few staff and a handful of student leaders have spent a couple of hours each day playing games and hanging out with students on the NCTC Corinth campus. We had several students join us! Through that we've made some new friends. Right now we are just trying to build a community of friends and develop one-on-one relationships. In that context we plan to get to know these people, get a gauge of where they are spiritually, and slowly build the foundation of our new NCTC FOCUS ministry. Please be praying for God to be moving powerfully in this!

NCTC "Welcome Back Bash" - Bad Tattoos booth
Wade (left) is a new friend of ours and Ryan (right) is a student leader.

Another bad tattoo! Jon (left) is a student leader and Hector (right) is another new friend.
Here's our booth! Michael (a new friend I made at NCTC) is the one looking back at me.

Another cool thing that happened recently was one of our returning students, Malaika, was baptized! Here is a video and a picture of us praying over her right afterward.

Please continue to pray for our ministries as we begin to minister to the wave of new students God has brought us. Our small groups (called Cores) started this week and soon many of our one-on-one Bible studies will begin. Please be praying all of that as it is such a foundational part of what we do.

Also please pray for students to attend our Fall camp coming up in October. We will start announcing it soon to make sure our students can make time in their schedules. Our goal for this is to further assimilate newer students into our community through developing deeper one-on-one friendships within the larger group (by that time many of them will have developed decent friendships with their Core groups).

Thank you for your prayers and support! I'm so excited to see what God will do on our campuses this year after seeing what He has already done! Please pray big and specific for us! I would love to hear about what you pray for :)

Yours for the Campus,


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Matt Clark's August Update

I would like to start out by sharing something less positive than usual, but for the purpose of sharing something considerably more uplifting.

One of the most surprising things to me while transitioning to full-time college ministry was how elusive relaxation is during the summers. I won't go into the details (feel free to ask if you're interested), but the stress of several projects and a never ending task list coupled with limited routine can be rough. This summer has been particularly difficult for me in this way - simply too many things coinciding. Furthermore, when truly overwhelmed, I'll occasionally find myself in a rather melancholy state.

This was the case last week. I started to question my abilities as a the director of our Denton a spiritual leader, etc. I allowed myself to pensively wonder if another career might fit me better than college ministry. This thinking persisted a few days moving me toward a general lethargy. At the low point, a fellow staff member happened to say something to me which reminded me of the reasons I'm doing what I do. God saved me yet again.

This is the moment I remembered that college ministry is what God called me to. I know this because he brought me into it against my own persistence to pursue other careers (likely why my mind will wander that direction at times). I know this because he has developed within me a passion for raising up leaders within the college campus when I had no prior interest. It has become my conviction that college ministry is the cutting edge of evangelism and discipleship. I am convinced that my work with college students is the most effective way that I can personally impact the Kingdom.

College campuses are convergence points of the best of the best AND natural centers for distributing leaders back into the world. Consider the following:
  1. College campuses attract the brightest young minds from all over the world.
  2. These are young men and women who are starting to figure out who they are, without as much influence from parents and past mentors. It allows students who grew up in Christian homes to "leave the nest" and let their faith be tested in new ways. Basically, it forces them to reevaluate their world views and develop their own convictions, probably for the first time.
  3. These young men and women are developing their core character, which generally changes rapidly during these few years then begins to slow down post-college. During this time their character has potential to be very malleable when exposed to God's truths.
  4. These young men and women are in an environment driven by learning new things at an accelerated rate. This is a great opportunity to teach them who God is and how to be a part of his people.
  5. These young men and women are developing friendships that will likely last to the end of their lives. Those friendships are ideal for them to figure out spiritual community with. They will be their foundational spiritual relationships. The college atmosphere is a great training ground for community - it's easier to learn before life gets complicated.
  6. These young men and women will be taught how to be the leaders of our world in an array of career paths and in most of the nations in the world. Then they will be sent out to lead.
Consider the significant difference it makes to reconcile any one of these students to the Lord. We're talking about future doctors, lawyers, computer scientists, neuroscientists, fathers, mothers, foreign missionaries, local ministers, etc. Many international students will even return to their country of origin, allowing them a potentially deeper impact than someone outside the culture. College ministry is in fact changing the world.

Now that is exciting! It shows the greatness of God - that he can use small people like you and me to do big things. There is a price we all pay for building his Kingdom, but it is always worth the cost. In the midst of the overwhelming chaos of life, we must seek to find the Lord's peace instead of attempting to conjure our own. We must trust that he has all things under control and he can handle our inadequacy. We must believe he will follow through with his promise of being with us always.

In light of this, please be praying for our ministry as we approach the beginning of the new school year. Starting August 16th the students and staff will be reaching out to new freshman, transfer students, and any other students on campus to develop friendships and invite them into our community. The following two weeks will be filled with as much interaction with new people as possible. We will broadly sow the seed of Christ's good news to see who is seeking spiritual nurturing.

It's crucial that our team is diligent these first two weeks because we have no other similar chances. Students' schedules quickly fill up and it's hard to find time to invest in another community at that point. Some of these students will have found their place in another ministry (which is awesome!), but not most. So my request for you is to pray fervently that all of the Christians on the UNT, TWU, and NCTC campuses will put everything we have into reaching the lost and that the Spirit will be our source of power during those two weeks (roughly Aug. 16-29). I am excited to see what the Lord will do on our campuses this year!

Thank you for price you pay to build the Kingdom through your money, prayers, and other sacrifices. They do not go unnoticed.

Yours for the Campus,


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Matt's July Update

Denton Staff Retreat

This past weekend I was able to take the Denton staff team to my parents house for a mini retreat. The primary purpose was to grow closer in our relationships with one another in addition to having some extended times for planning the year and worshiping God together. It was great! I'm so thankful for my parents opening their home to us, serving us all weekend, and engaging with my friends/coworkers. We were all blessed through that experience and I'm excited to spend the next year working alongside these people:

From left: Cody, Kelly, Aaron, myself, Miriam, Sarah

Student Leadership Selection

Many of our student leaders from last year have graduated so about half of our upcoming team will be new! That's one hard part of doing college ministry: consistently losing students that you have developed deep relationships with. Then starting over again with developing fresh leaders. All of this is really a tremendous blessing though because our alumni often stay involved in the FOCUS community and in turn are financial supporters. And training new Christian leaders is our calling to impact the world in the years to come!

2014-15 UNT/TWU Corefa Team

This process always requires a lot of effort from the staff, but it's well worth it in the end. We talk through several aspects of discipleship to get a sense of where each student is at. None of this is necessarily to determine their "qualifications" but rather to understand how to better pastor each individual leader. Despite the extra time this requires, it allows us to develop a higher quality team for the coming year. Pray for God's guidance in our efforts to select student leaders. We want to choose His leaders!


As many of you know, summer is a time of fundraising for us. I'm having to recoup some lost support from the past year, so I'm reaching out to new ministry partners. Please be praying for me in this area!

New Website

It's officially been launched! When you get a chance, check it out for yourself:

Please pray for:

  • The Lord's guidance in student leadership selection
  • Staff/intern fundraising
  • Plans for start of school year (reaching out to new students, prepping student leaders, etc.)
  • Internship beginning in August

Thank you so much for your investment and concern in the work God is doing through our ministry!

Yours for the Campus,


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Matt's June Update!

Hello from Vancouver! I'm almost done with a two week seminary course on Interpreting Matthew at Regent College. I've learned a lot about God and come to a much deeper appreciation of Matthew's effort to reveal who Jesus is within Israel's narrative. I've received so much information over the past couple of weeks that I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I'm looking forward to taking some time to decompress and let it all sink in over the coming months while I write my paper for the class.

Regent College campus

Also during the past few weeks I've been working on our new website with a few of the guys in Canada with me. It's been a...process, BUT we are almost done! Our hope is to launch it within the next week or two, which is very exciting! Pray that we get the final kinks worked out quickly.


Our trip up to Bellingham, WA for the Student Institute of Campus Ministry was so encouraging! It's a joy to see our students develop a passion for Jesus-style ministry on their own college campus. I'm thankful that the Lord has given us so many bright young people to work alongside with.

Denton group at the US Canada border.

These are the guys who stayed with me during SICM along with our host
family's kids. We really enjoyed our time together playing games as well as
having deeper conversations about what they were learning and wondering.

I asked a couple of the guys who stayed with me to share some of what they took away from this trip. Before you read Jason's, you'll need a little background about what they did: One of the days the students evangelized (campus conversation as he calls it) on a couple of the college campuses in order to learn how to engage in spiritual conversations with other people.
I really liked doing campus conversation at Whatcom community college, being in a totally new environment with a different culture. Everyone that I have talked to were open to sharing their belief and their story of how their beliefs came into their lives. One person that I remember was a girl named Burgundy and how she was not born in a religious family. Her answers were mostly unsure and she believes in mostly what's being thrown at her, usually scientifically. She is a marine biology major, so that is why she is more inclined towards the scientific perspective, but she was actively listening to our view in God's creation of man and the world. It made her curious and I hope I made an impact on her. Being able to do evangelism at a different location can really help me when I am out of college and into the working world, whether I stay in the area or whoever knows where I am going, being able to I guess adapt to different cultures helps me learn how to carefully have conversations with people without starting arguments. Since there's believers and non-believers, I know (with more practice) how to talk to both people and build relationships with them.
During my time at SICM I was hit with so much information, knowledge, as well as wisdom, that I was afraid I would not be able to soak it all in. Despite all of this, there were three major lessons that really struck me during my time at the conference. The first lesson was my role in being a leader of a small group or any other setting for that matter. I learned that my only real job was to set the atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to do His work on the person's life. I am not able to cause the other person's growth, only God can do this, and this takes a huge load off of my back.

Secondly, I learned how to ask good questions. Feeling like I know everything in the universe, I have the tendency to spew out facts to anyone who is willing to listen. On the contrary, I learned that the truth sticks better whenever the person arrives to it on their own. My role is to lead them there with good questions.

Thirdly, and I argue one of the most important truths that I learned, is that discipleship ought to be done in the context of friendship. This truth exposed another one of my tendencies to view a fellow human being as a project that needs to be worked on as opposed to correctly viewing them as a beautiful person created in God's image for Him and Him alone. There were of course many other things learned, and I sincerely look forward to applying these things to my life for the furthering of God's kingdom. 

New Interns

I've already mentioned in a previous post that our staff in Denton next year has been finalized (which included only one of the interns for next year), but I never shared who the other interns will be. For some of you this won't mean much because you don't know any of these people. It does however give you a name, face, and campus to keep in mind if you want to be praying over our new interns!

Two of the biggest things they are having to deal with at the moment are:

  • Transitioning their lives from being students or working full-time.
  • Raising their financial support for the next school year. It's a rather substantial feat!

Amazon Smiles

It seems like more and more people buy things on Amazon now so we have registered with the Amazon Smiles program so that, if FOCUS is selected as your charity, 0.5% of your purchases is donated to our ministry! If you're interested in helping out in this way, click the button below.

Google Chrome users: click here to add an extension that automatically reroutes you from to so you don't have to remember!


  • Summer Prep - We do a lot of things in the summer to prepare for the school year: student leadership selection, staff development and defining roles, discussing deeper topics we expect to deal with in the coming year (eg. how to talk about homosexuality without misrepresenting God or treating people as less than human), meeting with current donors and raising any other necessary funds, rethinking ministry structures and how we think we should do things (student leader meetings and mentoring, building in different values into our community, large/small group meetings, etc.). I could keep going, but I just wanted to give you a sense of what you can pray for (without boring you!). The point is we desperately need God's guidance in all of this.
  • Leadership Selection - After taking students to SICM we definitely have a much better sense of their leadership potential. It's allowed our staff to spend time with them in order to see how they think about and react to the call to Christian leadership. In the next few weeks we will be praying and talking about which students we should invite to be on our leader team. Please also pray that the Lord will guide us here.
  • Fundraising - With the new interns this is an obvious need. Many of our permanent staff will also be fundraising this summer though (including myself!). Please be in prayer for us that we will be able to raise our full budgets so that our focus throughout the year can be solely on the ministry that God has set before us!
  • Summer FOCUS - This is our weekly meeting over the summer, where all of our campuses worship God and fellowship together. Pray that God uses this time to encourage and grow our larger community spiritually.
Thank you so much for your continued prayer and support! May you have a blessed summer!

Yours for the Campus,


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Matt's May Missive

As we close out the semester we are preparing for many of our summer activities as well. Our summer plans include sending a group of almost 100 people to Bellingham, WA for a week-long college leadership conference (SICM), combined summer FOCUS with all of our different campuses, and School of Ministry. We started School of Ministry for our students to have opportunities for deeper spiritual/theological education since they lack this element at the secular schools they attend. Additionally, here are a few of the things going on:

Pizza Theology

This is an event we do once per semester about a broader topic that can't easily be covered in a sermon or sermon series. It's also a great way of bringing our individual campus ministries together for fellowship. This semester we talked about Heaven, Hell, and everything in between. I actually missed it this time so I don't have anything to share about it! You can listen to the recording if you're interested, which is what I'll be doing :). Just a fair warning: it's nearly 4 hours of audio.

Field Day

Each semester this year we hosted something we referred to as a BOYF (bring your own friend) event. It's a part of our outreach efforts, encouraging our students to invite people they know who wouldn't normally come to a Christian event to something nonreligious. Our event in the fall semester was a Halloween party which had probably 200 people in attendance. The field day was less successful, but we are still experimenting with how to go about this! The cool thing is both of these events allowed our community to welcome outsiders in and give individuals opportunities to develop new friendships in the context of our ministry.

Spring Formal

This is essentially our end of the year celebration to close out the year. We honored the people who have served in our ministry as well as those graduating, reflected on the past 10 months, and looked to the future with how we'll build on the spiritual foundation laid this year. There was also lots of snacking and dancing!

You may remember me talking about Sarah King, my current peer staff person, leaving the Denton FOCUS staff to plant our new ministry at UTA in the fall. Well I'm really sad that she is leaving because it means we'll see each other a lot less. We took a picture at the formal to commemorate our time together:


We are just two weeks out from the departure for our SICM trip! This is such an exciting time because of the opportunity we get with potential new leaders. Going on trip, even at a basic level, allows you to learn so much about who a person is. It's also an opportunity for our student leaders next year to start building relationships with each other because so far they've mostly only developed deep relationships in their cores. Now they will be on long plane rides and car rides together, staying in host family houses together, spending free times together, etc. They'll have many opportunities to get to know each other and talk about what they're learning throughout the week. It's within this environment that the students will be trained all week on how to effectively minister to their peers on the college campus and make disciples of Jesus. This isn't just another camp or conference where people get a spiritual high. We believe sending our students here is a life-changing event only because it's a starting point to equip them to go back out into the world, even outside of college, and be spiritual leaders. Each year I post some testimonies of students who attend so you can hear their takeaways. Here are some from past years:
2014 & 2013

Immediately following SICM I will be attending a theological school (Regent College) in Canada for two weeks with a few of my fellow FOCUS pastors in an attempt to further our education on Biblical thought. I'll be taking the Gospel of Matthew with Rikk Watts, who we are hoping will come speak at our winter camp this coming January. One of the things I most appreciate about Rikk (as I've listened to a few of his classes via audio recordings) is his passion for God. He's one of the more expressive professors I've ever heard and often mixes preaching into his teaching. Please pray that the Lord teaches me more about Himself through this class and helps us to develop a relationship with Dr. Watts.

Last time I said I would give some thoughts on outreach over the past month. Obviously that hasn't happened. However I have a decent sized draft written up. Every time I start working on it I keep editing or adding to it so at some point I'm just going to have to decide that it's done. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that it's still coming - I haven't forgotten about it!

Please being praying for the things on my prayer list on the left. I appreciate your prayers so very much! Thank you for your support of this ministry.

Yours for the Campus,


Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Accounting

Student Spring Impact

Last week was our SSI (Student Spring Impact, apparently I had it wrong in previous posts!) outreach where 12 students and interns from a ministry at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA came to Denton, TX during their spring break to evangelize on our campuses. How cool is that?

The Washington Crew

This is possibly my favorite week of the year because we mobilize all of our Texas students to join our guests from Washington (and all of the staff is involved too!). It may sound odd that I enjoy it because it is so commonly an intimidating activity for so many people these days. I used to be very nervous about initiating spiritual conversations on campus, but I've learned a few things each time that have helped me. I wanted to share these thoughts in this update, but I think I'll post them in a few days so I have more time to articulate them.

Spring Showcase

This event surprised us all with how successful it was. I know many of the student performers and have heard them sing/play songs in the past, yet I was still blown away by their talent. I would be shocked if anyone left disappointed with the quality of the show. Several of you came and I wanted to thank you for that! We were able to raise nearly $9,000 in order to help send students to SICM. If you weren't there, I'm sorry you missed out! The good news is we will likely have an even better show next year.

Intern & Staff Placement Next Year

All of the decisions have been made! It's a relief to have it done and exciting to look forward to next year. This coming year, the Denton staff team will consist of the following (click on their name beneath the photo to see some of their current blogs).

Miriam Freeman

Miriam has been an intern at UNT this past year. She has been doing ministry on the UNT campus for several years as a student and as an intern with another ministry the years previous to her FOCUS internship. She will be staying on staff at UNT to continue mentoring student leaders and take on a bigger pastoral role with the Denton ministries.

Sarah has been an intern at TWU this past year. Sarah King, our current TWU director, is going to Arlington to help plant the UTA ministry so Sarah Hubbard will be taking on more responsibility on the TWU campus. She won't have to take that on alone though! Our Denton team isn't simply divided by campus - we're all in this together.

Kelly joined our team in January in order to fill a sudden need for mentoring student leaders. Her current role has been largely administrative, but next year she will have a much more pastoral role in Denton. We are very excited to have her join our staff team! Fun fact: Kelly did the FOCUS internship the same year that I did.

Cody McCarty

Cody has been an intern at the Collin College ministry in Plano this year. He is a UNT alumnus so it's fitting that he will be returning to Denton to be on our team. He will likely be playing a role in the TWU ministry with Sarah Hubbard as well.

Aaron Hollingsworth

Aaron will be our only intern next school year (starting August 1st). He has been mentoring our student leaders this past year as an older, more mature student in our ministry. Considering that experience, we wanted to give him an opportunity for further growth by facilitating the planting of a FOCUS ministry at NCTC (North Central Texas College), a community college in our area.

Two of our current interns, Stephen and Christian, will be moving on. Christian is moving to Philadelphia to go to medical school and Stephen is hoping to either pursue a PhD or start teaching at a college nearby. Sarah King, my "rock" in ministry this past year, will be moving to Arlington to start our UTA ministry. I can't express to you how sad I am about her moving, but I'm also excited to see how God uses her there. I'm proud of her for answering God's call to that campus.

Please continue to pray over our ministry as we will soon be making several transitions this summer. Many more than I have mentioned in this post even. We are very blessed to be supported by your prayers. Thank you for your investment in the Kingdom through our ministry!

Yours for the Campus,


Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Message

I hope that everyone (in Texas at least) was safe during the chaos of last week. I checked the traffic with Google maps on Friday afternoon and was surprised to see the whole DFW metroplex covered in red lines and accident symbols. Texans just ain't good at driving in mildly bad conditions. Anyway I hope none of you were caught in any of that!

Parent Night

Each year I get really nervous about this event. Who wouldn't get nervous talking to a room full of older, wiser men and women who have come to see what their children are involved in? I find myself projecting a skeptical mindset on them as if they came to scrupulously evaluate the ministry for any and every flaw. Fortunately, through prayer and reflection, I find peace in knowing that God's got it and realistically parents are simply curious. Truly, I enjoy our Parent Nights. I see it primarily as a time to build up, encourage, and thank the parents for making the largest investment in their children thus far. We, as pastors, get to build on the foundation lain primarily by them and the Lord - what a blessing!

Later on in the service, we open the microphone up for any of the students or parents who have been around for a while to share how they've seen the Lord change people through the FOCUS ministry. It's much better than anything I could say to them, and always is a real treat for everyone to hear. I'm very thankful for the people the Lord has put into our body (parents and students) because I get to hear about so many neat things He is doing through all of His people.

If you're a parent who attended Parent Night this year, thanks again for making it a priority to visit! We really appreciate you being there.

SICM Showcase

I had talked in my last post about SICM, explaining what that was. I'd like to invite you to a fundraiser concert we are hosting to help financially support our SICM students. Several students in our ministry will be performing and let me tell you, we have got some very talented people!

This will be March 28th, 8pm, at Legacy Church in Plano. Tickets will be $15. I would love to see you there!

Here's the address:
4501 Legacy Dr.
Plano, TX 75024

Spring Student Initiative

Speaking of SICM, each Spring we host students from the ministry that hosts the SICM conference in Bellingham, WA. It's another way that we use to deepen our relationship with Campus Christian Fellowship. From March 21st - 28th we will have 24 students/interns visiting our various campuses to help us with a week of campus outreach. Unlike our normal weekly outreach efforts where we spend one day per week on one of our campuses, we spend every day during this week on every campus! It allows us to have a good progression throughout the week in our conversations with people. In years past we have put marker boards out and let passersby respond to various questions to initiate conversation (see below) Some people's responses were really sad or hard to hear, but that's all the more reason we need to talk about this stuff! Please pray for our efforts: that this would be beneficial to the students on our campuses and enriching to the Washingtonians visiting with us.


  • We are currently in the process of interviewing potential interns for next school year. This is very exciting, but we would greatly appreciate your prayers during this time for the Lord's guidance on acceptance and placement of each of the thirteen applicants.
  • Please continue to pray over our efforts to start a student org at North Central Texas College this semester. Also pray for our efforts at University of Texas at Arlington!
  • Continue praying for our SICM trip in May.
  • Guidance for the staff in leading the ministry.
  • Pray that the Lord protects our ministry from the forces of evil and emboldens us (staff, students, you!) to be people of the truth in every circumstance. May we all be children of our Father in heaven.

Thank you for all you do! God uses each person in different ways and I believe that you have made a difference in His work on the college campuses through your support of this ministry.

Yours for the Campus,


Sunday, February 15, 2015

February Feature

Check out what's going on in the Denton FOCUS ministry!

Winter Camp

This was a such a great experience. We had around 500 students from all of our campuses at Sky Ranch. It's getting to the point where I'm not sure I could name much more than 50% of the people there! It's such a great opportunity to see the larger FOCUS community and develop inter-campus relationships. For that reason, Winter Camp is one of my favorite times of the year. It's essentially our annual family reunion.

This was our first year to invite a speaker (Iain Provan) with whom we did not previously have a personal relationship. However, he is a professor at a theological school in Canada (Regent College) who we have come to have high regard for through listening to some of his recorded class lectures. It was a neat opportunity for us to bless him and be blessed by him.

Iain incorporated our theme "Words of Life" into his topics for the weekend. He shared words on creation, God, being human, evil & suffering, and hope. The main point of his talks was that God gives us His story through the scripture which starkly contrasts the story we are told by the world.

A few more pictures from camp:
University of North Texas
Texas Woman's University
FOCUS Alumni

Student Institute of Campus Ministry

It's that time again to be thinking through our potential student leaders for next year, and a part of that process is sending students to SICM. If you don't recall, SICM is a conference in May we take select students to in order to prepare them for being missionaries on their college campuses the following year. It's also a very exciting time for the staff to start developing deeper relationships with newer students in our ministry. We have already sent out invitations to the students who have exhibited spiritual leadership qualities so please be praying for them in their decisions on whether or not to go on this trip. If you are interested in donating money toward a student's SICM trip, please check out this page.

For more information on SICM:
Official SICM Website
2014 SICM Testimonials (UNT students)
2013 SICM Testimonials (UNT students)

Interns & Staffing for Next Year

We are currently accepting applications for the 2015-2016 FOCUS internship and making other staffing decisions. Please be in prayer for our discernment on these matters.

Parent Night/Open House

This is an annual event we do for the families, friends, mentors, etc. of our students to see what our ministry is all about. I'll share briefly about who we are, what our mission is, and how we try to accomplish it, but the most impactful part of this meeting is hearing from parents and students about how God has used the ministry to cause big changes in students' lives. If you are interested in visiting FOCUS on parent night, please come! You are more than welcome to visit on any Friday night throughout the year as well. Just contact me for more info on that.

Parent Night will be Saturday, February 21st, at 5:30pm in the Eagle Student Services Center (room 255) on the UNT campus.

NCTC Expansion

We are making progress toward registering a student organization at North Central Texas College in Corinth, TX. The campus is just 10 minutes south of UNT and TWU. As far as I can tell, FOCUS will be the first Christian ministry to start an official student organization on that campus. Often the community colleges are overlooked as places to invest in students spiritually. Even the students tend to see that time as a waste or just something to get through quickly. The reality is students are generally at a community college for two years, maybe longer. Then they often feed directly into nearby universities, especially when they have developed close friendships with students at those campuses. In fact, we started the UNT ministry with a small group of student leaders who transferred from Collin College.

I'm meeting with a few of the students who are heading up the NCTC registration process this Thursday to finalize all of the paperwork. Please be in prayer for this to go smoothly! Our plan is to start developing some community there before the summer so that we can start strong in August!

Thanks again for all of your support. God is good! I see that all of the time through the people who invest in and pray for this mission. May the Lord bless you for your participation!

Yours for the Campus,