Revitalizing the College/Career
As we look into churches across the country, it is sadly evident that there is need for revitalizing the college/career age group. In his book You Lost Me, David Kinnaman titles “A New Mindset” and states “This is the question every modern generation of believers must answer. I believe that, within the stories of young people wrestling with faith, the church as a whole can find fresh and revitalizing answers. Let’s call it ‘reverse mentoring,’ because we, the established Christian generation, have a lot to learn from the emerging generation. We are at a critical point in the life of the North American church; the Christian community must rethink our efforts to make disciples. Many of the assumptions on which we have built our work with young people are rooted in modern, mechanistic, and mass production paradigms. Some (though not all) ministries have taken cues from the assembly line, doing everything possible to streamline the manufacture of shiny new Jesus-followers, fresh from the factory floor. But disciples cannot be mass-produced. Disciples are handmade, one relationship at a time.”
Read below to find out how one church in Brookfield, WI saw the need and made efforts to overcoming…
WHO’S COMMITTED TO REVITALIZING AND HOW?
Crossroads Fellowship is the young adult ministry of Brookside Baptist Church. We exist to glorify God through passionate worship, fervent evangelism and intentional discipleship. We have two weekly gatherings. The first of these gatherings takes place at 9:45 am in the Brookside auditorium where we study the Scriptures verse by verse in a small group format called “POWER Groups.” The second gathering takes place on Wednesday evenings at 6:45 pm at various homes in our community. We call these meetings Fresh Encounter Meetings where we are reminded of God’s character through a challenge from God’s Word, heart-felt testimonies that remind us of God’s present work in our lives, and joy-filled worship in song. We also have opportunities for women’s discipleship and large group activities.
1. Displaying and declaring the Glory of God drives and motivates the manner in which we function – God is the audience and His Glory is our goal. (Is. 48:11)
2. The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture
(II Peter 1:3; I Tim. 3:16-17)
3. The Priority of the Church (Matt. 16:18; I Tim 3:15; Eph. 4:11-16; Matt. 28:19-20) It is to function as “the pillar and ground of Truth”
(I Tim 3:15) It is through the church that believers are equipped to mature into the likeness of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16) It is the through the church that unbelievers are presented the Good News of the Gospel
(Matt. 28-19-20) (Rick Holland, Theology of Ministry, p. 4)
4. Authentic Worship (Rom. 12:1-2) – Coming before the Lord and surrendering oneself to Him and understanding oneself to be His possession and to exist for His purposes. – Refusing to pattern your life after the ways of this present evil age. – Continually renewing your mind to grow in righteousness.
5. Edifying and Equipping the Saints
Edifying – Living out the “one anothers” and exercising “spiritual gifts” for the glory of God and edification of believers: (I Peter 4:10; John 13:34-35; Rom 13:8; I Pet. 1:22; Rom. 12:10; Eph 5:19; I Thess. 5:11-14; Rom 12:15; Gal 6:1-2; Phil 2:3; Phil 2:4) love one another, devoted to one another in brotherly love, speak to one another in Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs, admonish one another, Be sympathetic toward one another, be patient with one another, build one another up, be humble towards one another, look out for one another’s interests
Equipping - (Eph 4:12; James 1:22-25; II Tim 3:16-17; I Tim 4:12; Titus 2:7; I Peter 5:3)
Testimony of how God has used the POWER Group Material and Format in our Crossroads Fellowship
Crossroads Fellowship began to incorporate POWER Groups into the life of our fellowship 6 months ago. God has used the solid biblical teaching and simple format to unleash the power of the Word in the lives of our young adults. Here are some of the ways that God has used the POWER Group material and format in the life of our fellowship.
1. It has unified our purpose and ministry gatherings around the Word of God. Crossroads fellowship gathers several times a week. Some of our gatherings are scheduled for the purpose of teaching and applying the Word of God to hearts, some of our gatherings are scheduled for the purpose of fellowship and relationship building. The Scriptural theme of our POWER Group study has unified each of our gatherings around a central Truth and has opened up opportunities for discipleship and accountability on a level that has been life-changing. The POWER Group discipleship material is clear and concise and naturally highlights the Word as the central focus of our fellowship.
2. It has provided a tool for identifying leaders.
Small group interaction provides a way to identify the gifts and potential development of those gifts in young men and women. One of the blessings I have experienced is observing the response of young men to eagerly take up the responsibility of studying, applying the Truth to their lives and then sharing that Truth with others.
3. It has provided a venue for discipling and developing leaders.
We first began implementing POWER Group format to a group of 40 young adults (18 – 25 year olds). We used the POWER Group Study from James 3 and 4: “Wisdom from Above”. I met each Wed. morning with 3 young men who I asked to lead the 3 POWER groups. I taught these men the lesson for that week and they taught the lesson to their POWER groups. These young men young men eagerly took ownership of the responsibility to study and teach the Word and disciple and care for the needs of the people in their POWER Group. I have watched these men mature in their walk with God and awareness of the needs of others. Just in the second semester of implementing POWER Groups into the life of our fellowship we have seen our weekly attendance grow to 70 college age adults and 6 POWER Groups. I credit the growth primarily to the working of God through His Word. The POWER Group format was simply the vehicle.
4. It has attracted unbelievers to inquire about having a relationship with Christ and meaning to life. Several years ago we launched an evangelistic ministry to the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Marquette University. We saw many young adults mobilized to be a part of Bible studies on the campuses, form student organizations, and sponsor activities that were designed to connect with lost university students for the purpose of sharing the Gospel. We became connected to International Students through English As a Second Language partnerships and had the opportunity to give the Gospel to many students. We saw the Power of the Gospel at work as several came to faith in Christ. However, one of the challenges we faced was connecting these new converts or lost students into the life of the church. They would come to our worship services, but never developed deep friendships with other believers where they could be discipled and grow. I believe one of the reasons for that difficulty was the fact that we were not praying for God to work in the hearts of our current young adults and not focused on intentionally discipling them. I have found that college-age adults will not stay committed to organized programs alone. They crave meaningful relationships that are centered on the Word and life-touching-life discipleship. God has used the POWER Group format to create a community of meaningful relationships that are built on a commitment to one another in brotherly love. God began to actually bring lost people to our gatherings. I am watching the power of the distinctive mark of the believer, which is love. (John 13:35) Unbelievers are being attracted to the love that is being displayed among our fellowship. Our Crossroads fellowship is becoming passionate about reaching out to their lost friends and are excited to bring them into one of our POWER Groups.
While I know that these lost souls ultimately need salvation God is developing in our fellowship a strong testimony of the power of the Gospel in our loving relationships with one another. We desire to continue to reach out to the university campuses in our community and pray that God will use this core group of believers who are passionately following Christ to not only be a testimony that draws the lost to the Light but provides a healthy environment for young believers to grow in their faith.
The Nature of College Ministry (at Brookside)
College ministry in the local church is fluctuates due to the nature of this age group. For example, the college-age adults that regularly attend Brookside fit naturally into one of three categories (and all three categories seem to be even numerically)
1. 9 Month – these students attend Brookside because they attend a college or University in the Milwaukee area, but they do not call Milwaukee their home.
2. Christmas and Summer - these students call Milwaukee their home, but attend school outside of driving distance from Brookside and only attend Crossroads during their Christmas and summer breaks.
3. All year – these students attend schools or work in the Milwaukee area and attend Crossroads Fellowship all year.
The greatest challenge in building momentum in the college ministry has been developing consistent leadership throughout these three seasons and groups of college age adults. There are two specific tools that have helped accomplish this goal.
1. Connecting with the 9 month students and Christmas and Summer groups while they are away from Brookside. We utilize Facebook, and weekly emails that report what God is doing in our fellowship and encourage them to follow along with our study even from a distance. When they reconnect for Christmas or the summer they re-enter with a knowledge and a sense of what God is at work doing.
2. Developing leaders from the group that is here all year. While I do utilize some of the men who are home for the summer, the primary group that I focus on leadership development are the men that I can invest in all year. What this has done is create a consistency throughout these seasons that visitors or temporary students can sense that there is established leadership immediately when they come into the group mid-year.
-Activity Coordinator – Responsible to plan and handle all details for Crossroads sponsored large group activities
-Communications Director – Handles all Facebook, Web, Email communications regarding the life of Crossroads
-POWER Group Leaders – Men and women who lead the POWER Group meetings.
-Care Coordinator (for each POWER Group) – men or women in each POWER Group that takes attendance, keeps record of prayer needs, or any special needs of POWER Group members.
What does Crossroads Ministry look like each week?
Wednesday Morning Leadership Meeting (6:00 am): I meet for 1 1/2 hours with the POWER Group Leaders. I walk them through the passage of Scripture for that week. I try to model to them how to walk through the meaning of the text to application. The POWER Group material is designed to do this naturally. I encourage them to listen to several messages on the passage as well as include additional study materials. We also spend time praying for specific needs with the POWER Group leaders as well as the needs within groups. This time has opened up opportunities for me to disciple these men through the application of the Word to their lives and also help them walk through real-life counseling opportunities for them with the people in their POWER Groups.
Wednesday Night Fresh Encounter Meetings: We currently have our large group gathering on wednesday nights. We meet in homes of Crossroads members. We have on average 50 students gather for a challenge from God’s Word, heart-felt testimonies of God’s working in our lives, and joy-filled singing. We utilize this venue to give opportunities for some of the young men to bring a challenge from God’s Word. The POWER Group leaders are charged with the responsibility of selecting the men, helping them prepare a challenge and leading the Wed. meetings. It is exciting to see some of these men prepare a challenge from the Word for the first time. The POWER Group leaders or I will lead these meetings. We will sing for about 45 min. – interspersed with testimonies and times of prayer declaring the promises of God or reading Scripture out loud. I have a group of 3 guys who play guitar and help lead the time of singing.
Sunday POWER Group Meetings: We currently use our Sunday School Hour for our POWER Group Meeting time. We have 6 POWER Groups totaling 70 adults. We distribute booklets of the POWER Group material to everyone at the beginning of the tri-mester (I plan to use 3 POWER Group lessons a year – Sept – December / January – May / June – August). We are in our second study – Walking in the Spirit. The groups spend 50 minutes following the POWER Group format – as outlined in the preface of the booklet. We have found that 50 minutes is not enough time. Many of the groups have found additional times to meet on their own during the week to continue discussion and accountability.
Girls Nights Out: We have an activity once a month that the girls hang out and fellowship at the mall, coffee shops, etc.
Next Step Group: A discipleship group that my wife leads every Thursday night – the girls meet at Panera Bread – this is designed for girls who are hungry for more intense discipleship and the material is geared toward challenging single girls live for God.
Large Group Activities: We have one activity a month that is geared for the whole group.