Tag Archives: rockbridge

IV Sex Conference ’13: INTEGRITY IN DATING (video)

In February, our area of central/western Virginia held our annual Winter Conference at Rockbridge. Every four years, we focus on sex and relationships (which is always extremely popular for obvious reasons). We believe it’s crucial to give students direct and gracious teaching on God’s design of sex, relationships, purity, and commitment. This year we had record numbers this year! Never before have we maxed out every room and mattress at the camp. God used the time powerfully to give students a deeper vision for how God intended relationships to be.

I had the joy of leading a seminar on dating and relationships. My desire was to show students the bigger picture, beyond terminologies and technocratic jargon that many pastors or leaders have burdened them with. So, I used a dry erase board and direct examples. Judging from the great questions, feedback after, and overflowing attendance both sessions, I think it went pretty well. See for yourself with the video here:

Using the dry-erase board to illustrate what relationships should be like!

Using the dry-erase board to illustrate what relationships should be like!

Winter Conference ’12: SKEPTIC TO SEEKER (audio)

This recording is very overdue, but here’s the audio of a seminar I gave back in January at our area winter conference! The conference helped students deal with the unspoken question of “what happens after I become a Christian?” and how to keep on growing in general, giving students a vision for growth and purpose whether they were a skeptic still figuring out their view of Jesus, a faithful Christian who was in a position of affecting the world around them.

My seminar was on the first step: Skeptic to Seeker — it offers very practical understanding and advice for Christians on how to best help their skeptic friends become seekers, and also directly addresses skeptics (which we did have in the room) and gives them counsel on their own role in growing. The talk went very well and students asked some great questions, including a student who at the time had just started going to her school’s InterVarsity chapter. She came and asked me after about how to grow and I was really encouraged as I spoke with her then prayed with her. A couple months later at summer Rockbridge, I found out that she’d become a Christian since I saw her last! What a wonderful glimpse of the journey I’d been teaching on.

Rockbridge ’12: IDENTITY TRANSFORMED 2.0 (video)

Preaching “Image Rejected” during week 2.

UPDATE: Image RejectedReclaimed are now posted.

Hi friends! It’s been 3 hectic months since my last post. It’s just been too busy to blog! To bookend the silence, this (like my last post) will be a write-up plus video! There’ll be 3 sermons (2 sermons by me & 1 by my roommate, Garrett Trent, Greek IV @ U.Va staff). Editing & uploading takes time — I’ll add the new videos as I finish & repost the blog link to Facebook/Twitter etc.
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Our yearly chapter camp is an awesome time of celebration and growth for students from all over NC, SC, and VA. God is so tangibly at work there and we staff know it’s a crucial time to be present and attentive. I had the privilege of serving in the Identity Transformed (IDT) track for both weeks. IDT helps student wrestle with what God meant identity to be and how our false identities inhibit our transformation. Though it was a new track last year, we saw God work throughout the bumpy first-run to transform students deeply.

I’ve enjoyed my part in growing the track and getting a front-row seat to this amazing process. But I also love IDT because it’s good for me. My identity is often wrapped up in accomplishments. My posture is go, do, build, make. God through IDT calls me to berestlistenbelong. My action must be grounded in my abiding, but that’s easier said than done! God used the 2 weeks of IDT to speak to those very identity issues of mine.

I came into Week 1 worn out from a 6-week blitz of traveling, exit meetings, and a big year-end AIV event. I felt unprepared for my IDT roles (preaching 2 Gospel session sermons & leading a small group).  I hadn’t put in the 10 hours per sermon, I hadn’t reread Colossians recently. I was afraid that, in my unready state, I’d hinder God’s purpose for the track. God had different plans in mind. I was especially amazed on Thursday (gospel session 3: Image Reclaimed). It was the turning point of the week – after 3 days of reflection on false vs. true identity, we were inviting students to receive the true identity God had created for them. As I invited people to let Jesus reclaim their broken identities, 7 people said yes for the first time, and 10 for the first time in a long time! I hadn’t gotten in the way, God has used me, and amazing things had happened during week 1.

Inevitably, all staff come in tired for the 2nd week. But instead of growing to trust Him more, I again felt that I was going to mess things up. I felt out of tune on Tuesday when I preached on Image Rejected. Technically, it was one of my best sermons ever (I executed transitions and points well, etc.). But I didn’t feel spiritually in-tune. When it came to reflection time, I invited students to receive help to pray repentance (to let go of false identities). Again I was afraid that my out-of-tune-ness was going to get in the way. But as the next hour unfolded, over 20 students came for prayer; over a 1/4 of the track! Clearly God had it under control.

You’d think I’d get the message by Thursday. But no. I still heard a voice in my head telling me that I was going to mess it up. And that voice got worse when “only” 12 people accepted my invitation to receive God’s true identity. Half of me was rejoicing & truly excited. But the other half said, There are fewer people this week because you weren’t good enough. You forgot your points. You weren’t spiritually prepared. You weren’t as eloquent. It kept saying that, even when staff prayed against lies of the enemy the steal & destroy our joy. I had not been good enough. If only I’d been more prepared, slept more, prayed more.

Then God used two of the students who’d said “yes” for the first time to bless me. As I was cleaning up, a young man told me that he’d grown up his whole life in church but that God had spoken through my sermons to show him things in a new true way. “Now I feel freed for God to use me now! It’s amazing!” As I was leaving, a young lady told me thanked me for the words I’d spoken; now she understood the truth about what God is offering her. “I’ve become part of the InterVarsity community which was awesome but I never understood ‘the joy of the Lord’ that everyone talked about. But now, today, I have it! These tears I’m crying are tears of joy.”

I actually don’t expect students to ever speak to me after about a sermon; nobody did that week 1 and that’s perfectly normal and fine. But God sent these two students to bless me and affirm me. And in a very gentle and gracious tone, I felt God saying that “They came to thank you because they value their transformation. I value their transformation. Don’t worry, you too can value their transformation.” Here I was, feeling uneasy about getting up there, and feeling like I’d done terribly. To God, I hadn’t gotten in the way. To God, I’d done well.  God sent the students in that moment to speak against my habitual false identity as hero that threatens to steal and destroy. Moreover, I realized that God has been growing me all year in this area.  Last year, when I received praise for my speaking, that voice would probably have gone something like Look at me, I’m such a good preacher. At least now there’s a little fear and trembling. Which is all to say that Lord had this too under control.

Turns out students aren’t the only ones getting transformed.

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IMAGE REJECTED

IMAGE RECLAIMED

IMAGE RESTORED (by Garrett Trent) [to be posted later]

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.

The Tide is Already Turning

I just got back from Area Conference (Winter Conference/Rockbridge) & am really amazed by God. God did immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine & really poured out His Spirit on the attending students in a way I couldn’t have known to pray for.

I should say first that I didn’t have high expectations going in – winter/area conferences never had a great impact on my personal or ministry growth as a student. I was also very preoccupied with other things, especially planning for UVA’s Spring Witness Week. To me, Winter Conference was stretching precious time thin & was distracting/detracting from witness-building work in the UVA IV chapter. How silly of me!

God brought Ryan Pfeiffer, an IV staff worker from California, to preach. From the first night’s talk, I knew how wrong I was. He was preaching in power & unveiling truths about the Holy Spirit in much-needed ways. As a worship leader I felt a real partnership with him from that first sermon & it was all worth it. I also got to lead a seminar which was fun, but the greatest joy was seeing people respond to the Spirit’s work in their hearts.

On Saturday night, Ryan invited people to respond to God’s power & nature as a God that calls real relationship with Him & for witness, not out of obligation, but out of overflowing  love with Him & hearing His guidance. Many many students stood. I cannot describe to you in numbers or words the way the Spirit was striking the hearts of people in that room. Many were cut to the core. Many realized how good God actually is for the first time or the first time in a long time. It was unbelievable. It was the Spirit moving in power.

From vantage point at the piano on-stage, tears filled my eyes as I saw many of my UVA students stand, both to receive real relationship with the God of holy love & to receive God’s power for real witness out of love instead of fear or burden, to do witness is beautiful & exciting.

Let me share one perfect symbol of what I think God is doing & showed me. Each school had a poster with recognizable emblems & a campus map. Small groups had the opportunity to listen & consider who God wanted them to witness to put those names on Post-Its to mount on the poster. This was a symbol of their desire to cover that person & the campus with prayer & to witness to that person & the campus. I don’t say this to boast at all, but the UVA poster was covered beyond measure more than any of the others, I couldn’t believe it. If my UVA students meant what they wrote, if they will follow through to pray & act as witnesses to those people & to the UVA campus, then they will see & know that God is mighty to save & that He will do it.

The UVA Witness Prayer is so covered with prayers/names that you can't even see the map or photos! These students were covering our campus in prayer. If my UVA students will really stand for God & pray & witness, who knows what we will see!

In a recent newsletter I shared that I’m praying & working to turn the tide in the chapter toward witness & invitation instead of insularism & complacency. I thought the conference was hindering my work. Now I realize that this conference was a prerequisite for that to happen. As a staff worker, I am faithfully committed to see ripples of change in people’s lives & the chapter & the campus. But I joined staff to see a wave of God’s Spirit overflow & overwhelm. Perhaps the roaring worship was a precursor of His power to come. Perhaps the tide is already turning.

  • For my friends & supporters — Pray that UVA students would fan the flame of God’s power  & that those who made commitments to God or to witness anew would let that power take root in them. Pray for me & the student leaders who are organizing Witness Week. We are going to start recruiting students now.
  • If you’re a UVA IVer who went to Rockbridge — Tell your small group leader &/or a good Christian friend about what God did so you can get prayer for power & accountability to follow through. Then, act on your new commitments, to press into God’s call as witnesses. With Spring Witness Week just two weeks away, you have a perfect opportunity to embrace the challenge & let allow Him to use you. Please contact me for more info!

A UVA first-year small group prays together at the witness poster. Pray that God would reveal His power in response to their prayers & witness.

Early on Saturday the poster was already fairly covered. By that night the "Virginia" emblems were no longer visible.