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: anyfocus.org

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 amazon.com to smile.amazon.com 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,