Colonial Hills reaching IUPUI
Since 1957, Colonial Hills Baptist Church has been a testimony to the gospel of Jesus Christ in northeast Indianapolis. While such a history includes many wonderful stories of God’s working, one of the more recent has been in regards to its young adults ministry.
Colonial has hosted a Christian school since 1976 and from that disciple-making academy has seen many students make the transition from high school into college. However, a year and a half ago, it may have been hard to find them all. Throughout the years, there have been different levels of focus on that particular age group at the church. Twenty or so years ago, the group was largely self-led and enjoyed regular and growing fellowship. After that, a church staff member and then a layman was given oversight of the twenty-somethings, but the added burden of that responsibility to already busy schedules caused the ministry’s young adults focus to wane.
About three years ago, God again began to stir the people of Colonial with the need to revitalize their college focus. With that goal in mind, Colonial invited my wife and I to partner with them in the summer of 2011. Since then, we have rejoiced to see many young adults identifying with Christ and with each other in weekly connection at the church. Having adopted the name “Single Focus” to keep us centered on “knowing, loving, living, and giving” Jesus, the group has flourished in relationship to each other, God’s Word, and their community.
Specifically, our young adults ministry seeks to live out its relationship with Jesus through the three-fold aim of “connect,” “grow,” and “serve.” Through weekly Bible studies, regular activities, small groups, retreats, and online venues, the young adults at Colonial have many opportunities to connect with each other, which is where ministry starts. One particularly neat connection point has been our regular Sunday night fellowships. After every Sunday evening service, we visit a restaurant or someone’s home to just hang out before the busyness of the new week. It has been fun to see the group size and volume level increase as connections have been made.
A second important aspect of our young adult focus is growing. With a fear of plateauing compelling us forward, Single Focus has developed and sharpened an increased emphasis on life-touching-life discipleship—simply growing in Christ as a community. God began to powerfully work this emphasis into our DNA by using studies through Jonah, Titus, Colossians, and 2 Peter during the Sunday Morning Bible Study. In particular, Colossians 1:28-29 has been a tremendous catalyst towards growth—“We preach [Christ], warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working which worketh in me mightily.” More recently, our attention has been on “Following Jesus” as we simply trace that concept through the gospels. These rich book studies have found practical complement in our Midweek Connection, a time halfway through each week when the group gathers at the church for prayer, worship, testimony, and continued Bible study. Furthermore, the Focus Groups provide a more transparent and personal dynamic to our group, as we relationally challenge and care for one another. Finally, a daily online Bible study has also helped to keep us on point throughout the week.
The final key dimension of our singles ministry is serving. Along with irregular service opportunities being promoted on our website (e.g., meals, groceries, etc.), we also schedule into our yearly calendar at least quarterly service projects. This past year we participated in two church workdays, did some evangelism during the Super Bowl weekend, hosted an Olympic Bible Adventure, volunteered at a Harvest Teen Rally, and organized a Trunk or Treat outreach event. We also hope to add some mission trip opportunities in the future.
Throughout the past year, God has also given us the privilege of starting a Cross Impact chapter on the campus of IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis), a university that boasts 30,000 students. Although we started a bit late this past semester, the Lord has been answering our prayer for boldness and contacts. Each Monday night, we worked our way through a 10-week study in the gospel of Mark using the “Christianity Explored” material. This was a fantastic study in which non-believers were provoked to consider Jesus and believers were challenged to follow Him. God has given us a core group of about a dozen and has entrusted us with timely gospel ministry to a couple students in particular. An unsaved Chinese student who is wrestling with the claims of Jesus and a girl who has recommitted herself in loving discipleship to Jesus are two wonderful highlights from this semester.
In the future, we hope to improve in the areas of leadership development, campus outreach, and promotion. In the meantime, we thank God for these opportunities and for His grace to help us use them wisely.
Throughout this last year and a half, one lesson has continued to be pressed into my ministry philosophy—to keep my Christianity (and ministry) simple. Our Lord took a small team of ordinary men (Matthew 10:2-4), and when they were gripped with His extraordinary Person (Acts 4:18-20), He used them to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6). I believe that our Lord follows the same pattern today, and I’m trusting that He might reenact that within our young adults. Indeed, as we lead them, let us be “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16-17).
-Pastor Keith Lewis