Many times in the university world, athletes and athletic life is seen as a spiritual dead zone. A few brave ministries venture in there to do their work but most schools don’t have an AIA or FCA ministry. Often times we attach stigma to the hard-partying god-like lifestyle that athletes tend to embody or be thrust into. But nothing is impossible for God.
This is a great video from InterVarsity’s twentyonehundred productions (the media/video arts branch) that was shown at Staff Conference ’11. God is doing great things at the University of New Hampshire through the Athlete’s InterVarsity. Pay special attention to the fact that two probably non-Christian coaches are speaking well of IV, and hear especially what the track coach has to say at the end!
Be encouraged, be hopeful, and be prayerful that God’s work would embed itself in the very life of the university like Athlete’s IV at UNH so that the administration and the culture itself would reflect Him more and more. God is Lord of every part of a school’s culture.
Hi friends! Thanks for those who prayed for me during Staff Conference and my two-day retreat afterwards. I will write a bit about both in separate posts.
Lessons from Staff Conference 2011
- IV staff workers are not in student ministry. We are in campus ministry. This means that we need to intentionally, proactively seek the renewal of the whole campus & not shrink our vision merely to chapter-related work, important as it is. God will use our campus work, but we must do that AND other things to flesh out this vision fully! God call us to put down roots & commit to the university itself! We see in Scripture:
“Build houses & settle down; plant gardens & eat what they produce. Marry & have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons & give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons & daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace & prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:5-7). Once we have faithfully done this, God’s “plans to prosper [us] & not to harm [us], plans to give [us] hope & a future” will be made known! (Jer 29:11)
- God calls us to engage the powerful #1: There are God-fearing people in the administration/faculty who, even if not believers, genuinely desire to serve students. Like Nehemiah to Artaxerxes, Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, or Joseph to Pharaoh, God will open doors for us to have influence on those in power & give us allies in high places. These privileged places are not taken for granted – not every subservient nation got its members in such high ranks. This should not surprise us – God has been pleased to use secular or non-covenant means, rulers, & institutions to achieve His ends since the Old Testament. That applies on campus!
- God calls us to engage the powerful #2: We will encounter unjust judges (Luke 18:1-8) in our schools who contradict the growth of the Gospel or renewal of the campus or even the presence of God. But they too can grant us justice if we find the right approach & are persistent. And if we have powerful allies & partners, this too will aid our cause.
- We are daily creating ripples in the lives of students & campus culture. But that should not dull our hunger for a great revival and tidal wave of the Spirit’s work to overtake us. We often neglect to hope for great things out of pragmatism or veiled jadedness. We need to humble ourselves to patiently but hopefully ask God to pour out His Spirit powerfully. We joined staff to see the transformation of a generation, not just ripples
- In spite of the professional demeanor, Christian faculty members get scared and discouraged too, just like normal people! The milieu & direct coworker interactions can easily dull the sharpness of their hope and conviction. Yet faculty, who create the curricula for universities, are some of the most important allies & pathways in seeking campus renewal. My job as a staff worker must include the intentional pursuit of and encouragement of Christian faculty to build them up & encourage them in their own campus-renewing work.
- In times of crisis or chaos, God will be pleased to show the power of His gospel. The racial incidents at UC San Diego proved again the failure of secular ‘diversity’ in all its shallowness. What proved better was the racial reconciliation, multiethnic, and ethnic identity fullness of the message that the InterVarsity staff worker offered to share when the administration was at its wits end. They gladly accepted. At St. Louis this happened as well (watch the video here from InterVarsity’s media branch). In all ways, we must “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have” (1 Peter 3:15) & out of chaos & crisis God will prove His righteousness & love.
- We must encourage our students not to cast aside responsibilities & opportunities of academic life for the sake of just doing chapter work. We ourselves must increase our vision of integrated work and ministry to help our students find that way. Only when we do this will we develop whole-life disciples who seek the good of the ‘cities’ they are in.
- God is greatly at work at every corner & kind of university! Want proof? Watch ALL the video testimonies of God’s power at different types of campuses and chapters! From commuter schools to HBCUs, northeastern to southern, public & private, athletes & graduate students, God is bringing people to Him to renew the campus. Nothing is impossible for the Lord. Watch all the videos here: Staff Conference ’11 videos
God really expanded my vision for campus ministry & helped to redefine what the scope of my calling and role should be! But far from being burdened or worn out, I feel even more excited about my job than ever. It really is a privilege to be doing this ministry work. I was also blessed by great times of fun & fellowship with my other staff workers & enjoyed getting to meet new friends too! Whether Blue Ridge or class mates from summer training, or new staff all together, God really built me up in all those interactions.
While these 8 lessons apply to a campus minister, ask yourself how they might apply to you too – as a undergrad student, grad student, layperson in church, or parent too. God wants more partners in the university work, so we welcome your participation in His mission wherever you are!
Worship time at Staff Conference '11. They and the speakers were a major part of us hearing the Lord's call to deeper service & commitment to Him & the campus.
It’s been a good time so far in St. Louis with all the other staff. Overwhelming is an understatement. There are 1300 staff from all departments and geographical regions (including overseas-serving staff). We’re hearing sermons and talks that are pushing us to stretch our vision of campus renewal. Our seminars and training tracks are encouraging us to practically and prayerfully try new things that encourage our students or the university to see what God wants to do to set things right.
I’m very much processing the material and content we’ve heard – there have been many things that’ve definitely pushed me to reconsider my present views of university life, staff responsibility, personal discipleship when it comes to settling into the universities we are called to. I hope to write more later about some of the specifics that I’ve felt convicted about but there have many things that I’ve seen the Lord speaking and highlighting things for me. So that is exciting!
Thanks for your prayers and support as I and other staff are here to learn about how to help bring about God’s renewal to the whole campus.
I am off to St. Louis for the much-anticipated IV national staff conference 2011! All active IV staff will be there to learn about how God wants to redeem not just individual students or build up a strong chapter, but transform the whole campus to reflect Him.
I will be in the Multiethnicity track — we’ll learn about how, as IV staff workers, we can demonstrate racial reconciliation and unity of the diverse Body on campus. So often the secular vision of diversity is only skin deep; God wants something better and I look forward to the chance to explore this topic.
I’m also glad to spend time with my other staff worker friends/colleagues, not only from the Blue Ridge region (VA, NC, SC) but those that I’ve met from all over the country!
Please pray that our learning and fellowship times will be used by God to enrich and energize us for greater love for Him and for our campuses.
My last national staff gathering was in Madison WI for training summer. I know God will use SC 11 to do great things in us and for our students.