Campus ministry through NCM looks a lot different this year at the University of Idaho. After of summer of praying through and making decisions we have reshaped our approach to the campus by adopting the paradigm of campus ministry through a collegiate focused church plant. Through our relationships with Resonate Church, Keith and Page Weiser and the rest of the Resonate staff we have brought Resonate to U of I. This includes starting a Resonate service in Moscow at 8:30 on Sunday nights, beginning four new Resonate Villages in Moscow, one of which is just for freshman, and developing a team of student leaders who are on Volunteer Staff through Resonate.
We started the semester off with a lot of publicity on campus. We probably passed out 1000 granola bars at U of I, each with a flyer attached with info about Resonate. This alone was quite an experience as we got to see the many ways college students either receive or reject free food being handed out by strangers. No doubt, being rejected when offering a free granola bar was hard at times but when someone would take one and act like it made their day it was a little easier. Some people seemed to be counting on them for daily nourishment as they became regulars throughout the week. This advertisement proved to be affective as we met numerous people at the first couple of services who came because they received granola bar. That was the story for one girl named K. who came to the first service and then to the first village and has now gotten involved in many aspects of Resonate. She is a grad student who just started at U of I and moved here from Montana in August and says she considers Resonate her church home here at school.
We also did a music/magic show with Drew Worsham and Josh Martin the Sunday before school started. We probably had 200 people show up and it gave us a chance to share the Gospel as well as give some subtle advertisement for Resonate.
A large part of what has enabled us to implement this new strategy for campus ministry is our partnership and support from Trinity Baptist Church. This past summer we has several meetings with the pastors of TBC discussing Resonate at U of I and the college ministry through Trinity. We all realized that there was definite need for both approaches to reaching and ministering to students in Moscow in that there are some students that each church will be more affective in reaching than the other. Several of the students who have been involved through NCM the past two years had found their church home in Trinity. In order to continue to minister to these students I have been working alongside the leadership at Trinity to build the college program in the church. This has entailed starting a student led college home group that meets during the week where students share a meal together and engage in discussion prompted by the sermon from Sunday. Also, we have begun a new rotation of teachers in the College Sunday School class that includes a former philosophy professor from U of I, and both the senior and associate pastor of Trinity, seeking to make that time a more in-depth Bible study. In addition, we are currently establishing an “Adopt a Student” program in effort to get college students more connected to the church body through relationships with older adults and families.
This fall semester has been off to a exciting start as we are seeing a diversification in how students are being reached at U of I, and a growth in the number of students involved. Please pray that we will now be able to excel in our ministry to these students and empower them to minister on their campus.
II. An evangelistic story: (one full page on your reporting month)
As Resonate has gotten started at U of I we have started several new Village small groups as well. One of those groups was in need of a location to meet in and an opportunity opened up at the Nuart Theater, where we have our Sunday night service. The lobby area of the theater has been converted into a Christian book store/ coffee bar complete with couches and tables. The theatre, being located in downtown Moscow, is situated among several popular bars and it’s not uncommon for people to drop in randomly either drunk looking for something to do and sometimes interested in discussing Christianity. Well the first village meeting had one of these “drop ins.” Tim, the village leader, told me about how a guy who had apparently been drinking some came in with a friend looking to play a game of chess. Tim declined the chess game but invited the guys to have some spaghetti and join their discussion. As they started talking the more outspoken of the two, “Mike,” began to debate some. Through this, Tim and the others at the village were able to communicate their belief in Christ and challenge them a bit. Tim said that Mike seemed a little more closed off but his friend who didn’t say much seemed to be listening very closely to what they were saying. Again the next week a guy named S. dropped in and ended up eating with them and participating in the discussion. He claims to not be a Christina, though he has a strong Christian upbringing and only recently decided he didn’t believe. S. has continued to come now for four weeks strait and Tim has had numerous opportunities to share with him and build a relationship.
The first sermon series through Resonate has given me several opportunities to discuss evangelism with students during one on one meetings. The series, titled “Beyond the Red Letter,” has been highlighting the actions of Jesus and how we can emulate them in our everyday life. Specifically, we have seen how Jesus purposely sought to get on the same level as those he was ministering to as seen in his interaction with the woman caught in adultery and he saw and spent time with people who were outcast by society as seen in his meeting with Zaccheus. We also looked at how Jesus connected with those who are morning and in sorrow in the story of Lazarus’ death a resurrection. Each of these stories have given students clear pictures of how Jesus related through his actions towards others. This came up as I spoke with Nate. He was asking me how to share with his roommates who he had little in common with. He began asking how to debate with them and I challenged him to get to know them. I told him that it was no mistake that he was their roommate. That building a trust relationship with them and establishing that he really cares for them may help them be more open to Gospel and show them he doesn’t just want to convert them. We talked about what they were into and he said golf. I encouraged him to learn something about golf, get them to teach him something about it. We also talked about not stopping his researching apologetics and looking for answers to tough questions but not counting on that alone to help him share his faith.
I had a similar discussion with Jimmy who as a business major has a study group he meets with at least three times a week. He has established that he is a Christ follower and wants to know how to further influence his classmates. We talked about how he can become more than just classmates and establish friendships with them, getting involved in their lives and interests. Jimmy said he was interested in this and now wants to figure out how to make it a reality. We talked about questions he can ask to get to know them more and seeking to spend time with them outside of class and group meetings.
It’s been encouraging to be able to challenge these students to live out their faith through embodying the values of Resonate of authentic community and missional living.