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 minister...as the director of our Denton campuses...as 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,

Matt