Last night was my last college ministry meeting at the Stone. College Ministry started for Amber and I by leading a community group bible study in our small Hyde Park house we rented after getting married. The summer of ’05, I met with Michael Powell to convince him I wasn’t a heretic and to let Amber and I lead a group. It started with 9 people that first night and ended 2 years later with some of the greatest memories and friends we’ve ever had.
A year after we started our group, Kevin Peck asked Todd Engstrom, Travis Wussow, & I to organize and lead the college ministry. I can never thank Kevin enough for investing in me and providing me with this opportunity to lead with my friends. It’s been an amazing experience.
We’ve known for a while that this was likely our last year in college ministry and it makes it easier knowing that the college ministry is going to better than before with Tyler David, Sarah Decker, Eric Klein, Tammie Beassie and a whole host of interns, coaches, and missional community leaders running it next year.
Last night I shared what I’ve learned over 5 years or at least tried to summarize it in 4 nice bullet points.
You never move on from the gospel, you only move deeper into it. As Christians, we believe what saves us is faith in Jesus Christ’s death for our sins and resurrection from the grave 3 days later. For much of church life, I thought there were deeper and more interesting things than that, but how do you move on from the new like that? It’s truly tremendous to think of God becoming man, living perfectly, dying in my place, and accomplishing victory though resurrection that I never could. All through the letters in the Bible, Paul and other writers are constantly reminding people that what saves them (the gospel) is also what will transform them and instruct them in life. It’s never something you move past, it’s only something you grow in understanding of.
Ministry success or failure does not define me. The past 5 years have involved failures, some success, and more failures. It resulted in some ups and downs in my life and the unfortunately reality at times is that I came to view myself in light of those successes or failures. What I’ve learned is my identity is not based on my success or failure, but based on the gospel, being saved by Christ’s work and being seen as a child of God. As a parent, I know I love my sons not because they do great things for me, but because they are my sons. For Christians, God views us as His children and He is constantly delighted in us thanks to Jesus. Do I disappoint Him at times? Surely, but He never stops loving me. I’m His son.
Ministry isn’t as complicated as we try to make it. You’ve probably seen churches everywhere use trendy and relevant gimmicks or programs to get people to listen to their message. I feel like it’s overcomplicating a simple reality. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 8, Paul writes to Christians that “having so fond an affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” Over the last 5 years, Amber & I have seen people influenced and changed by this truth, that when we offered them our lives, carrying about them through prayer and teaching the bible, having them in our home, God used it to transform people.
Ministry comes down to evangelism (proclaiming the gospel in word and deed) and discipleship (sharing your life and doctrine with people by walking through life with them). Breaking it down further, I’d say it simplifies to prayer, understanding the bible, gospel-centered community, and being on mission together.
Lastly, I shared that there is no greater joy than doing ministry with friends. At our church we talk about missional community which is a groups of Christians actively proclaiming the gospel through evangelism and serving their community. I’ve had the opportunity to live that out with people who care about me and my family more than my contributions to ministry. They’ve reminded me of the gospel by caring about us and reminding us of and teaching us the truth of the bible.
So thank you to everyone we had the opportunity to serve with in college ministry. The list of names is too long to type here.
A lot of people have been asking what we are going to do next as far as ministry. The truth is we don’t really know. We have been praying that God would show us what to do next and we will continue to do so. We do know we have a great neighborhood and great neighbors that we want to spend more time with and share our lives with as well. So we will definitely start there.