Sunday, December 11, 2016

Matt's December Update

One of our UTA students recently made this very touching video for a class. As I watched it, I couldn't help but agree that our ministry really has been a family for me too. For those students who don't have a good example of family, this is vital. That doesn't lessen the value for those of us who have a loving family, though. The relationships I've experienced within FOCUS have helped me to develop deep friendships that aren't out of obligation but founded on the unity we have in our Lord. In our world friendship seems to be walked away from at the slightest conflict, but Jesus showed us a friendship that embraces conflict. The culture which God has developed in our community has had a profound impact on many people, including myself. In turn, this has helped me to appreciate my own family even more. So take a moment to see what the students have to say - I hope that you find it encouraging!



Annual "Keep FOCUS Growing" Fundraiser

This year our goal is to raise $55,000 to set us up for the next 20 years of college ministry. Reflecting on what God has done through our ministry over the past 20 years, we are convinced his vision for us is to continue planting vibrant, intellectual, outreaching, Jesus-loving communities on every college campus in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and to be a resource for the world, equipping and sending campus missionaries.


One of the most exciting things on the horizon is expanding to SMU (Southern Methodist University). Despite the many obstacles of starting a ministry at a private university, we have had several opportunities in the past few months to meet various influential individuals so that the possibility of a FOCUS community at SMU this coming year is seeming more likely. It's a God deal for sure and we're excited to be a part of it!

Will you please take a moment to consider investing in college ministry? Every dollar will, in some way, go toward the development of committed Christian leaders in our world. You can click the image below to send a gift online. Thank you for your consideration!

 Click the image to give




I hope you're able to find some time to slow down during the busy holidays, be with family and friends, and remember our precious Lord and Savior. The biggest encouragement I gave to the students at our last large group meeting is to be purposeful over their break from school, in connecting with God and blessing other people. My encouragement to you is the same. There are likely unique opportunities for each of us during the Christmas season. What better way to honor Jesus than to strive for obedience to our Father's greatest commands? You might ask yourself:

  • What are some ways I could connect with God that I'm usually unable to? How can I love the Father with all of my heart, soul, and mind?
  • Who are some people I will be around which I don't see very often? How can I love them as myself (or as Jesus has loved me)?



Image result for merry christmas jesus

Thank you so much for your generosity and partnership with FOCUS as we work with God to change students' lives! Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Matt's November Update

Fall Camp report

Our group at camp!

This year's fall camp was maybe one of the best we've had, which actually surprised me a little. Our students really made it what it was, though. Their attitudes and intentionality during the 24-hour period encouraged me tremendously. Reflecting on that weekend, it's obvious to me how much God was at work. Seeing our community invite new students into their fun, their worship of God, their lives, etc. was clear evidence of the Spirit moving among us. I wish there was some way I could allow you to experience it for yourself. The best thing I can offer is a video one of our students put together of his own accord.




It may look like they spent the whole time playing games, but take note of how they interact. I know it's probably still hard to grasp the full effect without knowing who these people are. When I watch it, I see the development of their relationships, old and new, and know that God did that. The first time I saw this video I teared up a little because I was so touched. What a blessing it is to be the Lord's servant, witnessing His work first hand!


Pizza Theology

Our biannual Pizza Theology was this past Sunday! This event allows us to take 4 hours to dive deeper into a subject than we can in a 30-minute sermon. The topic this semester was about how to hear God's voice today. A special bonus was that we had one of our dear friends, David Knebel, from the ministry in Bellingham, WA fly down to speak. Many of our students know him from the leadership training conference (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) we send our potential leaders to each year. And in case you're wondering...the "pizza" part of pizza theology just means that we take a dinner break halfway through to eat pizza - yum!


Alex & Mitchell

Alex, me & Mitchell
Another two student leaders that I get to mentor on a weekly basis are Alex and Mitchell. Like Ben and Bradley, they have decided to prioritize learning how to lead and develop disciples during their few years in college.

Alex was a student leader last year and started out very quiet. His leadership potential was shown in the initiative that he took, his response to challenges, consistent investment in the community, and his concern for others. He has developed a great deal of boldness during that time, though! I'm always blown away by what God can change in a person who is willing to grow. One of the most impressive things from Alex is his self-management. When I assign him things, he does them. Often when asked, he has already done it. He doesn't wait around for me, as his mentor, to tell him what to do - he takes initiative. This is what we need in our Christian leaders!

Mitchell is one of the sweetest guys I know. He is simply a genuinely kind person. This is his first year on the leader team, but he almost rejected the invitation! When I talked to him this summer to talk about the possibility, he told me that he wasn't sure he was really being called into leadership. My question was a gentle nudge: "Do you think that maybe me calling you on the phone and asking you to be a leader might be from God?" I gave him some time to think about it, but the next time I talked to him he was actually pumped about stepping onto the leader team and thought it was exactly what he needed to do this year. I was actually a little surprised! What impresses me about Mitchell is his consideration of things he doesn't necessarily want to believe. He is eager to learn rather than protect his current beliefs and biases.

These two young men are encouraging to me on a weekly basis. I'm so excited to see what God does through their obedience this year!


Closing Thoughts

Danielle and I have been married for just over 3 months now. It's been a great experience so far. I'm so encouraged by how our relationship has developed as of yet. We have pretty strong personalities, we are a little more set in our individuality being married at 29, and have the added layer of working in ministry together (I'm her boss! And ministry is a 24/7 thing). Some might immediately think we set ourselves up for hardship, but I'll tell you that it's been nothing but a blessing. God knew what he was doing when he led us into this relationship. We so often think that blessing comes from pleasant and comfortable things, but it also comes from suffering, hard work, and discipline. That's not to say that I'm suffering in my marriage! I'm merely making a point. Danielle and I knew going into this that it wouldn't be easy, and at times it has had its challenges, but we are certainly better for it. Our relationship is stronger because we've talked through so many of our miscommunications. We have more concern for one another because we try to make time every day to share how we're doing. We grow as ministers as we sharpen one another in the strengths we have over the other. We grow in our understanding of and relationship to God as we learn more of what it means to be one as two individuals. In these ways, and many more, marriage truly is an awesome gift from the Lord.




Thank you for taking the time to read through this! And thank you for your dedication to investing in college ministry. The impact is incredible - God will take these young men and women, who have been trained to lead others in the way of Jesus, to go out into the world and make His name known. That is the greatest ROI this world will ever see!

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Matt's October Update

This month is packed full of great things and I'm already off to a rough start. I'm just now recovering from being sick since Friday, but I'm thanking God that it's neither the flu nor strep throat! Anyway, I'd love to tell you a little about what's coming up this month.


FOCUS 20 Year Celebration - Oct 8



The 20 Year Celebration is this weekend! I'm sure you've already heard about it by this point, but just in case you haven't I want to quickly describe what we'll be doing. We will have a reception from 4-5pm before the main event with refreshments specifically for people to socialize with old friends or people from other generations of FOCUS. This event isn't just for alumni though! We want to invite anyone who has been involved in FOCUS in any way, even if only indirectly. Our main celebration will be from 5-7pm and will be a really cool timeline of how God brought about the FOCUS community and developed it over the last 20 years through various people. Lastly, we'll talk about where we are now and where we believe God is guiding us in the years to come. I really hope that you can make it! Here are the details again if you need them:

Reception 4-5pm
Celebration 5-7pm

Richardson East Church of Christ
1504 E Campbell Rd.

RSVP at anyfocus.org/celebrate20


Fall Camp - Oct 15-16

This is an annual event geared toward integrating newer students into our community and deepening relationships. It's only a 24-hour event, but it's packed full of silly games, thoughtful worship, and meaningful sharing of lives. The students who have attended this event know how impactful it can be. It's not anything that we, as staff people, do special; it's just God working amongst his people. My hope and prayer is that every new student who decides to be at Fall Camp will be connected into the larger community. Please be praying over this weekend as well!

I'll try to post a picture of our group on next month's update!


Leadership Conference - Oct 22

The Leadership Conference is hosted by our family of churches in the Garland, Wylie, and Denton area along with FOCUS. It's also an annual event, but it's specifically aimed at the leaders of our various communities. We bring together leaders from all of our teams to share, teach, encourage, and challenge one another to grow as leaders in God's Kingdom. Our goal is to grow in our leadership every year so that all of our communities are blessed.




The last thing I wanted to share with you is about a couple of the student leaders I get to mentor, Ben and Bradley. These two guys have made some really powerful decisions in their lives in order to follow God. It may not seem like much, but I'll tell you it's not been easy for either of them.

Ben came to UNT as the little brother of my best friend, but like many younger siblings, I could tell he wanted to find his own way. Thankfully God decided to bless Ben with a few friends in our ministry who consistently pursued him last school year. Over time and through their concern for him, they convinced him that being a part of real Christian community was better than working all the time. Ben is a work-a-holic by nature so it was hard for him to re-prioritize taking on responsibilities and leaving time for community. I'm really impressed by how much Ben has been willing to change certain parts of his life in order to lead others to Jesus. And God is still working in his heart and mind in major ways!

Bradley came to UNT as the "perfect son" who always made an A+ on every assignment (I'm not 100% certain, but that might actually be true!). When he was first asked to consider being a leader in our community, he declined because school was his first priority. Over the course of the next year, he started to realize how much God can do through the lives of obedient people - specifically in student leaders who had been investing in him. His decision to become a leader was difficult because it meant re-prioritizing school in his life overall. His decision meant he had to study less. All last year Bradley was able to successfully lead a core group, meeting up with some of the guys weekly for one-on-one Bible studies, and still maintain his 4.0 GPA and study for the MCAT (which he did exceptionally well on). And he is excited to be on the leader team again this year!

I'm really proud of both of these guys and am very excited to see the fruit of their labor this year!

Me, Bradley, and Ben at FNF

Thank you so much for reading! And thank you for your continued support of the work God has called me to here in Denton. Please keep us in your prayers and let me know if there's anything I can be praying about for you!

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Matt's September Update

A lot has happened over the past month. THANK YOU for your prayers. The preparatory days we had for our student leader team went very well and they did an amazing job of reaching out to new students over the last couple of weeks. Our first FNF (Friday Night Fellowship, which is our weekly large group meeting with all the Denton campuses) meeting was nearly packed out. It was impressive just to see what God had done through the commitment of our community to befriending as many people as possible.

FNF Kickoff














This coming weekend we are hosting another leadership training day to prepare our student leaders for starting their small groups. We call these groups "cores" because they are the core of our ministry and a place where students can experience deep Christian community through studying God's word and living their lives together. We try to use this training day as a way to cast a vision for their cores and give them practical advice on how to be successful. We will talk about our mission - to make and mature disciples to the glory of God - and how to take real steps toward that in the context of core. We'll talk about several other things and do some activities to further equip them for kicking off their core groups to the best of their ability. Please be praying for our student leader team as they start their cores next week! You can specifically pray for the Lord to:

  • give the student leaders a spirit of peace as many will be nervous
  • bring whoever He wants to each of their groups
  • prepare the hearts of those who come, even if they aren't new
  • use our staff to adequately support the student leaders in their roles


Reflections from my first month of marriage

Recently I was encouraged by one of my close friends and supporters to share more about my personal life, especially my new life with Danielle, in my blog. I'd love to just share a little of my insight from the past few weeks. I'm sure it will be nothing new to those who have been married a while, yet perhaps there is something to be remembered from the beginning of your own relationship.

Since Danielle and I have been married I have grown a lot. I've learned even more deeply the meaning of Proverbs 27:17. Marriage has the powerful ability to work the selfishness out of each person, but it doesn't come naturally. It takes hard work, just like it takes hard work to rub two pieces of iron together in order to sharpen one of them. I would say this is the characteristic of a good marriage. It is one of the many blessings that God gives us through this holy union.

I have surely been blessed in this way through uniting with Danielle. But I'm blessed even more by her desire to intentionally make me better. She calls me to a high standard, as Christ calls all of us - to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Not that she expects me to be "perfect" in the sense our culture understands, but to become who God intended me to be (perfectly made for the purpose). She challenges me to be more thoughtful, to be more organized, to be more sensitive, to be more encouraging, to be more expressive, and to be a better leader. Through our relationship I have every hope that God will make me into the creation He intended. My prayer is that I will do the same for her.


One last thing I'd like to tell you about is our upcoming event, the FOCUS 20 Year Celebration. This is for anyone who has ever been involved with FOCUS (in any way) to celebrate with us. We'll be telling stories from the last 20 years and then casting our vision to you for the next 20 years of ministry. We're really looking forward to celebrating with everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2016
UT Dallas
Edith O'Donnell Arts & Technology Building

Reception 4-5PM
Celebration 5-7PM

To RSVP for the event, please go to anyfocus.org/celebrate20.



Thank you so much for your prayers and support! I thank our God for you often for the blessings He provides though you. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and let me know if I can ever be praying for you.

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Matt's August Update

One thing that I was especially encouraged by this week happened while I was a new restaurant in Denton. They were giving away free food...so of course some of our college students were there also. While I was waiting in line with Danielle, I watched two of the students go sit with a guy who was there by himself and talk to him for a while. Later I asked one of them about it and she said that they had seen him on campus last week and noticed he was alone. They wanted to say "hi" and make sure he had friends by just being that to him. How great is that?! I'm just constantly impressed by the people God has blessed us with to reach out on these college campuses. He is good!

Here are those crazy college kids I just mentioned :)

Now that it's August, classes will begin soon - that's both exciting and a little terrifying at the same time! Terrifying because the amount of work to do and people to meet & befriend is downright overwhelming to wrap your mind around. Yet it's exciting because nothing is too big for our God and the possibilities for Him to change people's lives through us is unimaginable!

When I think back to past Welcome Weeks (the first couple weeks of the school year), I remember the people I had first met during those times. It's only then that I start to realize the full impact of my outreach efforts. I notice that so many of my close friends now were people I had met during those initial weeks. And, actually, that was how I was brought into the ministry when I was a student at UTD.

I think you can see how critical these two weeks are when it comes to meeting new people! What's sad is that so many young people are lonely during their transition into college. Even if they do make some friends, it's really tough to find good friends. We want the members of our ministry to be making friends with new freshmen and transfer students so they aren't lonely and DO find good friends. We want to make every effort to reach out to them while they're involved in "Welcome Week" activities out on campus. We want to show them a welcoming spirit to set a good precedent for our campus' culture. We want them to have an opportunity to see and experience God's goodness in community.

Since these two weeks are so important we take a significant amount of time to prepare our student leaders for making the most of that time. We have scheduled 7.5 hours next weekend to cast a vision for young leaders to be embody God's love to incoming students, prepare our hearts and theirs for service and humility, discuss various practical advice for reaching out during Welcome Week, spend time developing relational unity as a team, and worship our Lord as a community through song and prayer. We will also be inviting our entire Denton student community to a portion of the weekend to equip as many people as possible! I want to ask you to be praying over this time as well, that God will prepare each of us to do exactly what He wants us to do.

We will go on campus this month to reach as many as we can. Will you pray for us as often as you can starting 8/19 through the end of the month? Please pray that we will do the Lord's work and not our own. Pray that we will be brave in moving outside of our comfort zones when necessary. Pray that the Spirit will guide us to specific people whose lives He is currently moving in.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your support! Knowing we have committed brothers and sisters praying over our efforts and a good God going before us gives me all the confidence I need.

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Matt Clark's July Update

I would like to start this post with a prayer request and a special request of you. Our new apprentices and staff have less than one month to finish their fundraising for this year of ministry. Will you take a moment right now to pray that the Lord would provide the necessary funds for each one of them?

The gifts that we receive from our generous donors are a big deal. I wish I could fully express to you all of the various ways they create opportunities for lives to be changed. The most consistent change I see personally is through students on our leader team. This is largely due to their openness to God working in their lives (momentum from the previous year) and the consistent exposure they have to the staff team. That being said, I'm thrilled to inform you that we are nearly done with determining our student leader team for the coming school year! After much prayer, one-on-one conversation, and deliberation this should be finalized during the coming week...and we are looking at about 60 students! Let me tell you though: I'm very excited about each one of these students - God has blessed us tremendously. They are young men and women who are passionate about reaching out to their peers and willing to make a sizable commitment for the next year. I am really looking forward to working with them!

Please be praying for the Lord to prepare these student leaders for the first few weeks of school. This initial period of the school year is a crucial outreach opportunity because the friendships made early on will often direct how people spend the rest of their year. In mid August and early September we will be spending several hours, on three different days, equipping our leader team for making the most of these opportunities. Pray that each one of our students and staff is filled with His Spirit as we go out to reach the campus during those weeks. As we get closer, I'll try to keep you posted on specific times that would be helpful for you to be praying!

As many of you know, I will be getting married in just a couple of weeks (more on this below)! Considering this I am hoping to raise my support by $500/month to help with moving into this new phase of life, as well as moving toward long-term sustainability in college ministry. While I have already been able to raise part of this goal from generous friends (thank you so much!), some of my current donors have had to cut back due to their own financial responsibilities. Here are some specific ways that you can help:
  1. If you are currently a financial partner, please consider helping in one of two ways:
    • Would you recruit one friend or family member to join our mission by becoming a financial partner?
    • Could you increase your current financial support by 5-10%?
  2. If you are not currently a financial partner, will you consider joining my support team with a monthly or special gift? Becoming a donor is easy! Just go to anyfocus.org and click on “Donate” for options on how to give. If you would like to talk more about this, please feel free to reach out to me.
Regardless of whether you can or can't help, thank you so much for your prayers, financial support, and consistent love of college students.

Now I want to make sure that I mention that you are invited to my wedding, although there is no obligation. It's at 2pm on July 23rd at the Northeast Church building in Garland, TX. You can see all of the details and RSVP on our website, matt-dani.com. If you plan to attend, please RSVP very soon so we can plan accordingly. We hope to see you there! Please also be praying for us as we make final preparations!

Again, thank you so much for all you do. I simply could not do what I do on the college campuses in Denton without the support structure of people like you. I am truly blessed to have so many co-laborers in the Kingdom to serve alongside.

Yours for the Campus,

Matt


The Denton Team: Aaron, Miriam, Danielle, me, Brittany, & Cody

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Matt Clark's June Update

Today was the last day of our current internship program. Over the last week all fourteen of our wonderful interns preached their final sermons about what they learned this year. It was such a treat and I can confidently say that each staff member was ministered to during this time. God blessed us with some amazing young ministers this year! We concluded this 10-month journey with a celebratory home-cooked dinner where we enjoyed fellowship and shared our favorite memories throughout the year. It's always a bittersweet time because we are sad to see our interns move on, but we are proud of their growth and excited to see where God takes them next.

We are fortunate to have four of our interns, Aaron, April, Austin and Peter, continuing to work with our larger staff team this coming year. Aaron will be the only one who will be on the Denton staff team.

I'm also excited to welcome Brittany Tydlacka, our new apprentice (we changed the name of the program!) in Denton, for this coming school year. I've known Brittany and her husband, Kevin, since I was a student at UTD. They had moved to Austin, TX, for a while then to Nashville, TN, to pursue a music career. They just moved back to Denton this past week.

Sometime this summer I'll try to get a picture with all of next year's Denton staff team so you can get a good visual.


SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry)

Instead of telling you about how great our SICM trip was, I have asked a few students to share about their experience. I didn't really give them much of a prompt other than to share one or two meaningful things they learned or took away from it:
Jon
Upon being invited to SICM, I was somewhat skeptical. I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to go on this leadership conference. I'd heard so much about SICM, however, I still had reservations. It wasn't until I actually arrived at SICM that I knew that Bellingham, Washington, was exactly where I needed to be. I saw God move in such amazing, powerful ways, from the insightful night of worship, to the destined impact of campus evangelism. During SICM, I was encouraged, convicted, challenged, and spurred on by my amazing peers. As a result of SICM, I think differently about what disciple-making discipleship looks like, how crucial evangelism is in our daily lives as believers, and how to invest in spiritual relationships and friendships. Furthermore, I will not only be able to apply what I've learned from SICM in my immediate ministry of FOCUS at UNT, but also with every ministry that I become involved with for the rest of my life. I thank God daily for giving me the opportunity as well as the privilege to experience SICM first-hand.

Tate
SICM was great in so many unexpected ways for me. I experienced God’s grace in such a real way that I pray I will never forget or take for granted. Even before I left for SICM, I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness in His provision for me to go on this trip. God showed me his faithfulness and laid the ground for the rest of the trip before it had even begun. I knew it was going to be good and that He was already working. I could go on and on about what I learned at SICM, but one thing that impacted me the most was seeing God working in and through other students and friends who were there with me. Seeing people’s hearts being captivated and molded by Him was so encouraging. I watched God break down barriers in both myself and others; barriers of fear to step out in faith and boldness in Christ, sharing His love with others. Another thing that became very tangible for me was the idea that God wants to use anyone and everyone to bring His Kingdom to earth and its people; it doesn’t matter what part you play in someone’s spiritual journey, whether you prepare the soil, plant the seed, water the seed, help it to grow, or see the fruit. I've always known that God wants to use me, but I never really knew how. SICM showed me that I can and should do Kingdom work in anything and everything I do. I no longer have just a conviction, but a desire and excitement to share God’s love with everyone.

Hayli
My SICM experience was so impacting and full, I hardly know how to narrow down what I felt like the Lord was teaching me, reminding me, showing me, etc. However, I think the largest, repeated message God laid on my heart was that He is a faithful God that finishes what He starts. I saw the reality of God's faithfulness through 2 large events I'll share, the first being campus evangelism. I had never participated in evangelism and approached it with a timid heart full of preconceived notions. What I learned both that day and throughout the week through classes is that the point of evangelism is really, truly, simply to do God's work by challenging people's world views in hopes that they come to know Christ. I and another student from UTD (shoutout to Daniel), talked to a girl for almost 2 hours, and heard bits and pieces of the ways in which God is pursuing her heart and "planting seeds". She even skipped class just to talk to us! Daniel was able to share the whole gospel with her, and her face lit up like nothing I've ever seen. She was so locked into the goodness of God and His heart to restore His creation to Him fully. While she didn't accept Christ, I was reminded in that moment that the true story of the gospel is all about the fact that God is faithful in tilling the soil of hearts in ways we may never know of or see; He is a God that works behind the scenes to accomplish His will. And because of that, we are able to boldly come before Him and ask for things that may seem (to us) outlandish or 'too big.' I am continuing to pray for her, especially now knowing that our conversation could have opened up a whole new door for her. 
Another area in which I saw God's faithfulness the week of SICM was when I met Becca Johnson, a woman whom my host family knows. Becca is a trauma therapist for victims of human trafficking- which is precisely what I have felt called to do and am studying to do. I have never met another person in the vocation I feel so deeply called to pursue, and was reminded graciously by Abba that He will not call us to something He will not help us complete. He is a God of provision and will provide in ways we can not foresee, in order to guide us where He calls us, because He finishes what He starts.

Josh
Thank you, lovers of our Father, for prayers or payment of any form towards making my walk with Christ--among many others--a closer one. Before the travel to SICM had even started, I had walked a few miles in much larger shoes than my own. I was first committed to raising funds on my own for a time which took action that included working for people I normally wouldn't, helping in ways I never had before, and getting to genuinely know the more visceral parts of people that have been in my story for years. 
Upon arrival, God placed a man in my life who's presence I first questioned and quickly understood to be friendship. To me, he looked like a tax collector. He wasn't raised in a home of Christians and didn't give empty Christian answers to questions. His hunger for Christ, preparedness to listen, and understanding of his past was a perfect image of who Jesus calls and works through. I judged him critically within myself when we first met but now love this man for all his heart can take. This was for me a saving grace, albeit a bit disguised at first, he showed me the multiple planks within my eyes without ever seeing them. The funny part is that he gives thanks for my answers when I know he could have found them almost anywhere but I found answers in him that I may have never learned elsewhere. 
It took a conversation with him outside a playground during lunch in Washington to understand God's call for us both. We were wrapping up a long conversation over discernment and the deep pain everyone feels knowing they're wrong but not knowing the answer is in God. I attempted to end the conversation saying, "We need people who are so enveloped in God that the world finds all its answers in the way those people live." Before I could get out my last word a little boy ran up to me and tags me exclaiming, "You're it!" 
He didn't run off like the game goes, however. The little guy just looked at me and my new brother for a while with deep blue ocean eyes. I finally understood in this moment that God has been building me, answering my prayers, and speaking directly into my life using the least suspected all along. I should've guessed. Jesus, after all, was born in a lowly manger and not on a Tempurpedic California king sized bed. As much as I read and listen, I don't seem to fully grasp an idea until I've lived it and SICM brought me to life in more areas than just this one.
God bless your heart and contribution to God's kingdom, good and faithful stewards of life and love.


Summer

This summer is going to be interesting. It's always a pretty deceptively busy time but with building our leader team (lots of conversations to have), continuing to mentor students we may not normally get much time around during the semesters, debriefing last year & strategically planning for the following year, fundraising, etc. it tends to fill my schedule pretty easily. Additionally, Danielle and I are planning our wedding (big day is July 23rd) and moving her into our new apartment in a few weeks where I’ll be joining her in July. We are excited for this new chapter of our lives!


Please be praying for:


  • The Lord to guide us in our student leader selection. We don't want to simply pick the students we like to work with or set anyone up for failure. It's a difficult process and requires telling many people that now isn't the time. Please ask the Lord to fill us with His Spirit as we have conversations and make decisions.
  • Planning for this coming year. There are so many things we have to think through to determine if we want to do things differently, the same, or try something new altogether. My Denton staff has already accumulated a long list of strategic planning topics to work through in our weekly summer staff meetings. We can't possibly do that on our own though. We need our Father's help!
  • Our staff fundraising so that we can continue doing ministry to the current capacity! We strongly believe that one-on-one is how it's done and we couldn't possibly be able to spend the quality time we do with students if we didn't have financial supporters. These gifts are a blessing from God!


Thank you so much for all that YOU do to support me in ministry. I am incredibly blessed!

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Matt Clark's May Update

The beginning and end of each school year seem to be the busiest seasons in college ministry. What's interesting about the end of the year is how abrupt everything is just...over. There is so much build up with several events (from our family of churches and FOCUS together) and then in early May everything is done. We had our last official meeting on May 1st, which was our formal event to celebrate everything God has done for, through, and in our community this year. We had a blast :)

At our Spring Formal - Some of the guys I mentored this year!
(From left: Jason, Sergio, Bradley, me, Pedro)
We also had a few hangouts during the week to make sure we got as much time as possible together. One of those was just with our leader team. We spent some time writing encouraging notes to one another. Personally, I really enjoyed the group we had this year - they are so great! I'm so excited for those of them who are graduating and moving into the working world, but I'm also glad we get to keep those who are staying around another year or two. God has blessed us with some really neat kids!

2015-2016 Student Leader Team (Corefas)






While everything is over, it's not over for long! Our SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) trip is fast approaching! The group starts flying out to Seattle this Thursday and we get back to Dallas on the 21st. To remind you of what this is about: we take our potential student leaders for the following school year to this week-long conference as an opportunity for them to learn about discipling their peers. Please be praying for our group to be safe and open to the Lord's guidance. Our hope is for every student to come back equipped to minister other students on their campuses, and then take that experience with them after graduation into all parts of the world!


Another thing to be praying for is our new group of apprentices! You can see who they are and their campus assignments in the image below. And a fun fact: 5 of the 7 apprentices are UNT graduates! That is so encouraging to my staff and me!



Thanks for reading and staying updated on what we're doing on the Denton campuses! I apologize if you have been waiting for my update (apparently 44 of you checked on Friday!). This weekend we hosted a wedding at my house for a close friend so I have been a little delayed from a few normal tasks! At the same time I appreciate everything you do to aid me in doing God's work with college students in Denton. Without you, this would not be possible. Please keep me and my team in your prayers and don't hesitate to ask me for prayer as well!

One last thing: If there's anything you would like me to include in my updates that I don't already, please let me know! Or even if you just want to hear more about something and less about something else. Any feedback will be appreciated! You can either reply to my email or add a comment at the bottom of the post (you can even post anonymous comments). Thank you!

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Matt Clark's April Update

This past week 12 Christian brothers and sisters from Washington came to visit. Getting to spend the week with these students from Western Washington University was an amazing blessing. There's no way I could explain this fully, but they were some really neat people and they seemed to make every effort to honor us as their hosts. We loved having them!

After our Friday Night Fellowship, at the end of our week of outreach, some of them still had energy!

Apparently, a silly picture is mandatory :)

Getting a sweet treat from Beth Marie's after a good day of outreach!

If you haven't seen any of my previous posts, these students came to Texas during their Spring Break in order to help us reach out to the students on the UNT, TWU, and NCTC campuses. We spent a total of 20 hours having varying conversations about God, faith, life, etc. with students who were willing to talk to us. The display boards you can see in pictures below were a helpful way to initiate conversations by giving people a framework for what we were asking. The boards had questions like:

  • Who is God?
  • Who is Jesus?
  • What is a Christian?
  • What kind of a friend should a Christian be?
  • What sort of impact should a Christian have on society?
Below each question was a list of possible responses that ranged from a conventional Christian perspective to a conventional non-Christian perspective. Our intention was to make anyone with any belief feel comfortable sharing their opinions with us so we could engage in real conversation about these important topics. Even if all we could do was show someone that having a conversation with a Christian can be a positive experience, that was a win. Changing someone's worldview in a single conversation is unrealistic, but having an impact on someone doesn't need to be so dramatic.



One of my favorite things about campus outreach (just going on campus and talking to people about their beliefs) is the variety of people you get to talk to. Just to give a few examples:

  • I talked to a guy who was a single father raising two daughters in Plano (45 minutes away from UNT) who had nearly lost his faith in God, but only recently came to trust Him more deeply because of the impact one of his professors had on him. I hope to keep in touch with him to talk more about a paper he is writing in regard to how our culture responds to Christians vs other religions.
  • Another guy I spoke with is a "non-theist" who grew up in a Christian home. He said that has read his Bible all the way through at least 20 times (which I believe based on the physical state of his Bible), but that he has started to realize that it is too hard to believe what it says (or at least that God is good). We talked for quite some time and even though we never really agreed on much, we shared a mutual respect for each other and I'm confident he walked away just as encouraged as I did.
  • I also met a guy who worked at UNT in the IT department. He was actually walking past our displays with his daughter, who was talking to someone else. This man shared with me that he is Christian, a part of a church in Denton, has gone through a divorce and remarriage, has come out of a drug addiction, etc. It was neat to hear his life story and get to connect with him at a personal level.

I had many other meaningful conversations - too many to tell! This week was deeply encouraging to me to be able to speak to fellow human beings about who God is and what He is doing in the world. I'm also thankful for the students from Washington who spent their Spring Break ministering to our college campuses.

Lastly, in regard to evangelistic outreach, I wanted to share some general thoughts. It's sort of long, so I'll add this in at the end in case you don't have enough time to read it now.

Spring Showcase

The Showcase is this weekend! It begins at 7:30pm, but be sure to arrive early for the art sale starting at 6:30pm. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students). You can buy them here or at the door. The performances will be top-notch, including vocal, instrumental, dance, and theatrical pieces. You will not want to miss this event if you can help it!

And just as a reminder, this is a fundraiser for our students going to SICM in May. This is the week-long Christian leadership training conference we send our potential new leaders to each year. It's a highly valuable experience for these young disciples!

North Dallas Community Bible Fellowship
2801 E President George Bush Hwy
Plano, TX 75074

My Engagement

The last update I need to make is that I am now engaged! Danielle Rodriguez and I will be getting married at the end of this summer and she will be joining the Denton team as she is also a FOCUS minister. Danielle and I have been dating for a little over a year now, but we had also dated five years ago (for a just under a year) and remained fairly connected in the time between through the FOCUS/Northeast Church community. Needless to say it's been a long journey, but such a great blessing to both of us. We are very excited!


Thank you so much for all of your continued support! Thanks for reading! And I want to really encourage you to read the outreach thoughts below as well. I'd even appreciate comments on them if you have any. I have much more to say on the topic, but tried to keep it very brief.



Yours for the Campus,

Matt



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Thoughts on evangelistic outreach:

I think we often fall into two extremes with this: 1) we are afraid to broach the subject of faith because that person will think less of us or know more than us, or 2) we think we know it all and need to convert people.

Ultimately, God is the only one who can change a person's heart so we can get rid of the notion we have any chance at doing that. All we can do is offer an invitation and let them make their own decision. On the other hand, allowing our fear to prevent us from engaging those around us is a decision to reject Jesus' command at the end of Matthew. Now I don't mean this to be a shameful thing, but more of an encouragement! I've been there myself. Most of us American Christians are evangelistically shy and I don't think many of us really understand what effective evangelism looks like. Part of this is understanding the goal, plus having a reasonable expectation.

The goal, in my mind, is to connect people to God through relationship. He is the author of life, creator of everything! Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. Anything connected to Him will have life and anything disconnected will die. This isn't a matter of good and bad (morality), but relational connectedness (life). It's not about us being good but God being good, a point often missed.

So what is a reasonable expectation in evangelism? Well in a single conversation, not much. We might be able to insert a new question into someone's thinking. We might be able to give them a positive experience with a Christian when all they've ever had previously is negative. However, if this is a person you work with or see on a regular basis, you can have a greater expectation. Perhaps you can develop a deeper relationship where mutual trust and respect is developed. Through a relationship they are more willing to listen to your opinion and accept your personal experience as personal evidence of a personal God.

That's how it works, you know? We exhibit faith in someone by making decisions based on the word of another person. We may go see a doctor by referral from a friend, but do you ever check that doctor's credentials to see if they are actually certified? In a similar way, we trust words in scripture to tell us who God is, but we also trust the words of other believers. The first step toward a trust relationship with God is trusting a good referral. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." I don't know about you, but I'm naturally inclined to want the truth before I trust someone's word. Unfortunately, it cannot work that way. We will never actually know anything until we actually try it. We can't truly know what comes from following Jesus until we truly follow Him. Through real relationships with other people we can give them a good referral about who God is. We have the potential to attest to the goodness of our God in such a way that an outsider may become interested in seeking a relationship with Him. Again, we aren't in control. We are merely offering a good referral.

As I've thought more about evangelistic outreach I've come up with a simple guideline. This is in no way a template and it doesn't make it any easier. Nor does it always make sense in every situation! The conversations we have with other people will always be unique because every person is unique. We must develop our "dynamic conversation" skills - be ready to go anywhere. Perhaps this will make it simpler for you to wrap your mind around such a complex thing. And this guideline is for talking to anyone, even other Christians. When talking to someone, try to answer two questions:
  1. Who is this person?
    • What are they about?
    • What is their conversational style?
    • What struggles are they facing?
    • What do they think matters in this world?
    • What worldview do they claim to have?
    • What qualities do they respect in other people?
  2. How can I minister to them?
    • How can you affirm them (without validating something you don't believe)?
    • How can you connect with them through a similar/shared experience?
    • How can you help them (even just a simple service like helping with Calculus homework or giving them a ride somewhere)?
    • Can you give them something of value (maybe sharing an experience, encouragement, thought, feeling, etc.)?
    • What question can you leave them with?
    • What does this person need to hear? And how do they need to hear it?
    • What is a truth you have earned the right to say to them? Perhaps suggesting something for them to consider.
    • What can you learn from them?
I believe this is roughly the same approach Jesus took when he spoke with people. He had a divine advantage being Yahweh in the flesh though. We can't immediately know people unless the Holy Spirit reveals something to us, but as men and women created in God's image we do have the ability to know others deeply through relationship. When Jesus interacted with people, he always said the right thing - the thing they needed to hear - whether they liked it or not. Jesus was able to say what was needed because he knew the person. If we want to be effective disciples, we must also know the people around us so we can minister to them.

Knowing people through relationship is far more important than becoming a theologian. That doesn't negate the importance of knowing the scriptures well, but even theologians misinterpret God's word. One major problem we face in evangelism is these conversations seem to hinge on logical argument. Both Christians and non-Christians alike believe this. In actuality it's not a logical issue because we are not very logical creatures! The real reasons we believe most of what we believe (especially lies) come from our subjective perspective of our experiences. If we all believed things because of rational arguments, then we would change our mind when someone disagreed with us using a solid argument. How often does that happen though? Have you ever witnessed a Christian-Atheist debate ending in agreement? Aren't we more often unwilling to change our minds simply because we already believe what we believe? This is the main obstacle for all of us, Christian and non-Christian, to encounter God in real relationship.

So my encouragement to you, dear reader, is to engage the people around you. Be their friend, ask about how their lives are going, remember things about them, find ways to bless them. Then let God reveal to you how you can be His voice in their life. You don't need to have deep conversations about whether or not God is real. You don't need to prove the Bible's authenticity. Winning arguments is going to lose the person. Win people's hearts so that they might allow God to step in also. YOU can do this! I believe in you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Matt Clark's March Update

I'm very thankful for you! I appreciate you taking the time to read about what's going on in the FOCUS ministries in Denton. May the Lord bless you!

Here are a few things of note...

Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM)

I wrote some about SICM in my last post but for those of you who are new, it is a week-long conference we take our potential new leaders to every May in Bellingham, WA. Campus Christian Fellowship (CCF), the host of SICM, is a ministry relationship that we have developed over the last several years. They have taught us much of what we know regarding college ministry - they have been doing it for over 40 years!

This year we are excited to take about 115 students from all of our campuses! Last year we had less than 100 people, including the staff. Please be praying for our students to be able to raise the funds necessary for this trip if they aren't able to pay out of pocket. Also be praying that God prepares their hearts and minds for this conference so they get the most out of the experience. This trip isn't intended to simply be a fun experience (although it likely will be), but more of a changing experience that equips each of them to lead and disciple their peers the next year. Additionally, it is potentially the launching point of life-long ministry leadership. That's our vision for these students!





In order to help our SICM students afford the cost of this trip, we are putting together a fundraiser event called Spring Showcase. You may have attended our Spring Showcase last year, but if not, it's a top-notch event. We bring in talent from all across our ministries: musicians, singers, dancers, actors, etc. In addition to the live performances, we will have an art sale in the foyer before the show and during intermission. We have collected pieces from the members of our community with artistic talent ranging from drawing, painting, photography, woodwork, etc. I was blown away by last year's performances and artwork and even had a decent idea of what to expect. This year should be even better because we have made some improvements! There are a few things I'd like to ask you for in order to help out:

  1. Please pray that this fundraiser is successful in providing funds for our students.
  2. You are invited so come out and support the students yourself!
Date: April 2nd
Time: Art sale starts at 6:30PM; Show starts at 7:30PM
Location: North Dallas Community Bible Fellowship

Purchase Tickets Onlineanyfocus.org/showcasetickets


Apprenticeship

FOCUS has decided to change the name of our internship program to the "Campus Ministry Apprenticeship" in order to better communicate our goals. An apprenticeship (or a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and some accompanying classroom work and reading) is more accurate in describing what we are doing with these young ministers. "Intern" tends to have a less positive connotation.

Speaking of the Apprenticeship, this past weekend we interviewed applicants for next school year. We have almost made all of our decisions about acceptance and placement, which is very exciting! Please be praying for guidance as we sort through this.


Parent Night

This is one of my favorite times of the year. It's an evening when many of the parents of our students get to experience our community for the first time. I greatly enjoy honoring those parents for everything they have invested in their children's lives and initiating a partnership with them in God's greater kingdom. Each year we have a time of open sharing where students and parents can talk about how they've seen the Lord working through FOCUS in the lives of students. These stories are the real sermon! By the end of the evening I'll have cried (I'm not the only one!) a number of times from the amazing ways God has changed and impacted people. I may never be able to accurately describe what makes this night special, but perhaps you just have to be there.

I'd like to share with you one of my staff member's comments about parent night that they had written to me in their weekly report. I think it manages to further capture what is so special about Parent Night. In her report, this is in response to "A really encouraging thing in my ministry experience this past week was…"
Last year                ’s mom was absolutely against FOCUS and wanted her to quit. I don’t remember how she stayed in the ministry, but I definitely know it was a source of tension. Both of her parents came to our family night on Saturday. They invited me out to dinner with them as well. At dinner they were just kind of talking to me about how scary it is as your kid goes off to college. You just worry what they’re going to be a part of and whether that organization is actually teaching Christ. Her mom actually told me that she was really nervous when                started coming for that reason, and how it took her a long time to listen to her explain what it was about because her mind was already made up. She just kind of thanked me for our work and said she was really glad that her daughter had some place she approved of to go learn about Jesus. They’re also willing to pay for her to go to SICM. I hear a lot of the student's sides of stories, but it was so encouraging and cool to hear the parent's side. Parents just want the best for their children, and it can be so hard to let them go off into the real world. It just makes everything worth it to know that parents really do see what we do here as good work. I love parent night so much. It’s one of my favorite events that we do.
I couldn't agree more. God has blessed me tremendously through the various relationships I've developed with parents throughout the years. I'm already looking forward to Parent Night 2017!


SSI Week

SSI stands for Spring Student Impact (I think!). Some of the students from CCF (the ministry that hosts SICM) will be coming down to Denton for a week of evangelistic outreach on our three campuses. It's a neat experience because they give up their spring break in order to help us reach the students in our city - wow! They will be here from March 19-26 and we will be doing outreach on campus that Monday through Friday from 10am-2pm. Please keep us in your prayers during these days! I'm looking forward to share how it goes in my update next month.


Again, thank you for your investment in our ministry, whether it be prayers, money, time, or anything else. I am blessed to have you as a ministry partner! Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you.

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Matt Clark's February Update

The Spring semester is well on its way! We are back from Winter Camp and three weeks into classes, core, etc. There's a lot to be thankful for and much to look forward to this semester.

Here's what I'm talking about:

Winter Camp

This year's camp was amazing. It's funny for me to tell you this merely through text, because I don't think I could ever fully convey what I mean! The experience is powerful for a few different reasons: first because we just have so much time to be around each other as a community (basically three full days), second because our student leaders are so purposeful with their time spent around other students which insures everyone is included in fellowship, and third because of the thoughtful and heartfelt words from Rikk Watts (our speaker for the weekend).

If you remember from my last post, or from a few of my posts last summer, I took a theology class in Canada at Regent College with Rikk. Many staff and students have listened to the recordings of his lectures (as well as other professors there) over the past few years. We have come to appreciate their humble and deep respect for God and his Word. This is why it was such a treat to have Rikk visit us. We are glad to consider him a friend and brother in the Kingdom. The words that Rikk shared with us over the weekend were about who Jesus is - we wanted our students to hear Rikk's passion and be enamored by the amazing person of Jesus, God among us. The impact on our students was a tremendous blessing as so many hearts and minds have opened up more to our Lord. Their understanding of who our God is has been stretched and expanded. One of the ideas Rikk shared was that God is not about good versus evil, but about life. That we are trying to be good people in order to be accepted by God, but we simply need to come to Yahweh, the Creator, in order to find real life. Nowhere else can it be found. Anything apart from God is dead. He inspired us to be people who take this life to those around us - that our role as God's people would be to show others his life-giving nature. We have to avoid making it about rules and being good. "God isn't about rule-keeping, but about people-keeping."

I highly recommend listening to the talks from camp because I believe they will enrich and challenge your own relationship with God. You can download the audio here. I would love to hear your thoughts or discuss any of these ideas if you want!

Here are pictures of some of our groups at camp!
University of North Texas
Texas Woman's University
North Central Texas College
All FOCUS campuses!
Includes UNT, TWU, NCTC, UTD, UTA,
Collin College (Spring Creek and Preston Ridge campuses), and Richland College

SICM invitations

SICM, as you may remember from years past, is the Student Institute of Campus Ministry. It's a week-long conference in which we send our potential leaders to be trained in reaching out and making disciples on a college campus. We have a long relationship with the staff who lead that ministry and have learned much of what we do on our own campuses from them. They are, in a real sense, our spiritual fathers and mothers. If interested, you can check out their websites for more information (CCF Ministry & SICM).

Last year we invited 25 students from our Denton campuses to attend SICM. We also had about 20 of our student leaders graduate last year so we barely maintained the size of our leader team this year. However, this year we invited 55 students to SICM! And significantly fewer leaders will be graduating. This is great news for the number of students we can reach next school year! It's also a little scary thinking about how we, as a staff, will be able to support the student leader team. Please be praying about that! We strongly believe in a 1:1 mentorship structure so that our leaders are consistently being poured into by a staff mentor. Also these students will be raising support for their trip so please be praying for that and if you are interested in helping a student pay for SICM, you can do that on our scholarship page. The trip is in May so we are still in the preliminary planning stages at the moment.

Please also be praying for students as they decide whether or not to go on this trip. They have to register by Feb 22nd. It's not for everyone, but we pray the Lord will guide each of them in this process.


Fundraiser results

You may also remember our fundraiser from back in November. We had set a goal of $45,000 and two weeks in to the three-week campaign we were maybe at around 10% of our goal. It was a little discouraging, but we prayed fervently and kept driving forward. Amazingly, as only God can do, the goal was reached...it's unbelievable! We are still in awe. God is so good. He is truly awesome! This money will go toward so many things in helping our ministries continue to grow in the years to come. Thank you so very much for your contribution to our ministry! We appreciate everything you do to support us. You are a blessing from our Lord!


Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Matt Clark's January Update (finally!)

The new year is upon us and it's surging forward!

This past Sunday we met with all of our student leaders for 4 hours to prep them for the semester and continue training them as ministers. It's just incredible that they are so willing to invest that sort of time in ministry during their time off from classes. The Lord has blessed us with some amazing men and women!

Winter Camp

We're getting ready to scoot over to Sky Ranch (in Van, TX) this Friday through Monday for our annual winter camp. We expect to have over 500 people in attendance from all of our campuses! One of the main goals of this event is to maintain the relationships of our larger fellowship - it's so encouraging for staff and students to be able to spend quality time with so many brothers and sisters across the metroplex. For that reason alone winter camp is very special.

It's also an exciting time to deepen our relationship with our guest speaker, Rikk Watts. Rikk is a professor at Regent College in Vancouver. You may remember that I visited Regent College last summer. Well, I was actually blessed enough to be in one of Rikk's classes! He is passionate about Jesus so much that he literally bounces when he talks and even when he lowers his excitement I was on the edge of my seat simply in awe of who God is. I'm looking forward to our students meeting him.

I'll post a picture of all the students from camp in February!

Special Prayer Request

Over the past month or so there have been several tragedies in Denton. Two UNT students were killed - one boy, Ryan, was shot by a police officer in self defense and a girl, Sara, who was shot in the head while driving her car on New Year's. One of the students I mentor weekly knew Ryan since childhood. I'm glad he has people he can go to in order to help him cope. Unfortunately, there are many other students who don't have that support system. Plus I can't even imagine what the families are going through right now. Please be in prayer for the families and friends of Ryan and Sara.

Two days ago a couple in their 60s was found in their home and it's suspected that their son killed them. Perhaps the son is innocent, but the situation is a tragedy regardless. Many people in Denton are mourning these losses and I pray that we don't lose any more of our friends, relatives, or neighbors in such an awful way. I ask that you pray for the family and friends of this couple as well.

Despite these tragic events I also pray that we don't lose hope. May we hope in the Lord, who is faithful even when the world seems too dark. He is more powerful than death, which he proved when he raised Christ from the dead! His light still remains in this world because he is good. He is always good! I read this line in a book last night before bed: "An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it." Satan is always trying to keep us in the dark or convince us that the light has gone out. Often it seems like so many bad things are happening in our world that it's just hopeless. Unfortunately, so much of the News is depressing. In politics it's frustrating and overwhelming to think of making positive change. "Evil" seems to be running rampant and "good" is nowhere to be found.

The truth is that there is significant good in our world. The fact that our world exists is AMAZING! The fact that most of us don't die every day is unbelievable (like on the highway, in airplanes, not getting sick, we woke up this morning, children living until adulthood, etc.). Plus we get to enjoy relationships with other people every single day (if we so choose)! So let us never refuse to see the light of God in our world, and let us never forget our purpose to also be that light. God is doing something in this world far bigger than we can comprehend. His ways are higher than ours. We must trust in his goodness despite what the evil one throws in our faces. Our God has defeated death and we must remember that.



Please also be praying for this semester. We have many plans, but I ask that you pray for the Lord to guide and direct us. Core groups and one-on-one Bible studies will be picking up where they left off. Often newer students who go to Winter Camp will be majorly impacted due to the amount of time spent with others in the community (a lot of this happens through the initiative of our student leaders). The beginning of spring semester is another opportunity to meet new students who have transferred or just never plugged into a community in the fall. We are going to try some new things with reaching out on our campuses this semester as well as have a group of students from Western Washington University join us for a week of outreach in March. We are going to have some topical classes for students who want to deepen their thinking on subjects like Old Testament Overview, Culture and Christianity, Science and Christianity, and Rethinking Worship. Over the next few weeks we are going to be determining which students are our potential leaders for next school year, which we will invite to SICM (a week-long conference for training students in college ministry). I'm sure there are other things I missed, but I know having a specific focus for prayer makes it easier on you. 

Thank you so much for your investment into our work here! God is good to us in providing brothers and sisters in the faith like you.

Yours for the Campus,

Matt