Monthly Archives: May 2011

Rockbridge 2011: Leading Small Group

This is the second of a series of posts explaining what I did at Rockbridge chapter camp for the last two weeks. I helped staff the Identity Transformed track. This post highlights my role as a small group leader.

In every Rockbridge track, small groups are a key component as we engage the material — whether it be evangelism, Kingdom values/ethics, or identity in Christ — because, more than just words on a page or from a speaker, relationship with others is an important facet of how God communicates with us.

Some small group members talk a lot, some a little. Some are long-time Christians, some began following Jesus only 5 months ago. Some have questions about God, some have questions about themselves. Because the students don’t know each other, we have to build trust. We do all our track activities together — morning scripture discussion, listening to talks, set-up/clean-up duty for meals, nightly meeting and prayer. And both weeks, I saw the Lord work through my small group. He helped people make connections and open up to each other.

Especially for our track — which deals with how we are ruled by false identities or the true identity of Christ, masks we wear, and other deep issues — small groups are important because we need space to share our stories or struggles. As Jesus presses into these deeper places or questions, we are forced beyond intellectual processes into genuine soul-searching and decisions. Without a place like small group, that examination can be frightening and impossible. But when small groups are at their best — people are genuine, vulnerable, considerate, and relationally present with each other — then that journey is easier, and we can be supported and encouraged.

One of my greatest joys is seeing members become comfortable with these people they met just days before. Students grow to care about each other as we share thoughts from the day or questions God has raised. In processing together, students often become more open not only to each other’s stories, but to what God is trying to do in them. For me as a staff, the trust we built in small group enabled me to have key conversations with many students regarding barriers to an identity solely in Christ. Thank the Lord for small groups!

Week 1 small group!

Some of my small group members praying together at the end of our nightly meeting.

Week 2 small group

Some of the week 2 small group reading along during a talk

Rockbridge 2011: Preaching on Rebellion

This is the first of a series of posts explaining what I did at Rockbridge chapter camp for the last two weeks. I helped staff the Identity Transformed track. This post highlights my role as a preacher.

In the weeks leading up to Rockbridge, I was hard at work preparing to preach on “Rebellion.” Each morning we examined our identity through the big story of scripture in four parts: Rest, Rebellion, Redemption, Restoration. I had the task of expositing Genesis 3 to clearly explain how we are all rebels, and to divest us of the idea that we are OK or doing fine — in fact, we are not doing well, we are really bad and things are really bad.

I explained that there were four sources of rebellion: [1] Mistrusting God, [2] Misunderstanding God, [3] Being deceived (not just be the devil, but by our own desires), [4] Unrestrained agency. Moreover, there are four results of rebellion that we see in the text: [1] we now know evil things are continue to do them, [2] death and grief, [3] we have broken relationship with EVERYTHING (with God, self, each other, and with creation itself), but [4] God works to redeem our rebellion.

Both weeks the students received the message really well. Students heard God’s voice pointing out places of rebellion in their lives. During week 2, many came to receive prayer from staff as they recognized how deeply they needed to repent and how much they really needed a transformed identity in Jesus. This was a crucial message because without clear recognition and confession, there’s no way Jesus will have His way to transform us. And students were receptive to these true but hard words.

And that makes me glad. Not because I did a good job or whatever. But because in preaching, before and after all the studying, praying, thinking, drafting, analogies, illustrations, the only thing that matters is they hear God speak to them and call them to what He wants for them.

I began by telling my story of rebellion against God in high school

Getting ready for IV chapter camp!

As an IV staff worker, you know the year is ending when students are hiding away in the library and we are away in our offices or at desks writing/reading furiously. While the students have finals, we staff are getting ready for year-end chapter camp!

What is chapter camp?
It’s a week-long camp for IV students from all over the region (VA, NC, SC) where they’ll deepen their relationship with God in different tracks. Each track has speakers, Bible study, small group sharing, and other activities to teach students more about Jesus. It’s where we expand students’ vision for God’s kingdom — how theology should influence politics/sexuality/economics etc., how to connect with God more deeply and richly, how a Christ-centered identity is crucial to a fruitful life. It’s where we train our leaders — how to study scripture/lead small group, how to discern and cast vision, how to share the Gospel and witness effectively. They also get to eat tasty camp food, enjoy musical worship (including songs of different cultures), and have recreation time with a ropes course, swimming pool, volleyball courts, and rocking chairs.

What is Greg doing at chapter camp?
I’ll be helping to staff one track each of the two weeks (we can’t fit all the schools together at once so we have split them up).
In the first week, I’m in a track called Identity Transformed our goal is to help students understand their identity  accurately and see how Jesus must be Lord of every aspect.We expect many non-Christians so even as it’s a track about lordship, it’s also evangelistic since this is the very question that non-Christians are exploring!: “what if Jesus is the center of my life?” I’m going to be preaching on a core idea: rebellion. My task is to help students see how deep their rebellion against God goes, and what effects it has in their lives.
During the second week of camp, I’m a small group facilitator for a bunch of small-group-leaders-in-training in our Small Group Vision track. Our goal is to teach them how to study scripture for facilitating exploration and discussion, how to cultivate strong relationships, and how to make their small groups a witnessing and missional presence on campus.

How can I pray for Greg & IV chapter camp?
Please pray that students will come with open hearts to encounter God in powerful and deep ways. The teaching we offer is excellent and we know it has the power to change lives, for long-time Christians or seeking non-believers alike. And pray for me (and other staff workers) as I prepare my sermon and other materials! There’s not much time left!

Some of my tools as I prepare my talk on "rebellion" -- manuscript of Genesis 1-3, New Bible Dictionary & New Bible Commentary. Oh, and lots of coffee.