Over the last four weeks, CoMission's three house groups have gone over the four consecutive parts of the Gospel story; the stories of Creation, Rebellion, Rescue and Restoration. In fact, the way we went about this is very similar to how our staff share the Story in Four with college students when meeting up for Gospel Appointments.
Each week, our house group gatherings talked about a different part of the Gospel story, beginning with Creation and ending with Restoration. The basis for conversations and discussion questions was started by watching a portion of an animated narrative video made by the Bible Project which covered the overview of Genesis chapters 1 through 11. Invaluable conversations were exchanged during this series about how our lives are different now than they were before Christ and how we can continue to live purposefully because of what He’s done for us.
For the second week of the series, my group did an exercise where we paired off and each took turns sharing what our lives were like before Christ (leaving off there as the third part of the story, Rescue was to be discussed next week). Although this activity might have been somewhat uncomfortable, it was great practice for when we ever find ourselves in a situation where there might be potential for sharing the Gospel story with someone else. After all, God wrote our small and insignificant stories into His large, overarching one for a purpose so that other life stories might be impacted for His glory. Who knows, maybe we'll equip some potential future CoMission staff leaders through this practice.
Now, for a brief overview of how our CoMission staff share the Gospel story with students during a Gospel Appointment. When we meet with students, the intent is to be genuine and get to know their life stories. After they get done sharing, we ask them if we can share a story with them, which is actually THE story. When sharing the Gospel story with students, we use a document called The Story in Four. Each part of the Gospel story (Creation, Rebellion, Rescue and Restoration) includes a few short, yet challenging life questions that we have the students answer to the best of their knowledge/understanding and ability. Once we finish going through this, we ask the students where they think they see themselves in the story (i.e. are they saved or do they reject God?) Regardless of their answers, we usually conclude the meeting by asking them if they would like to keep meeting up and start reading the Bible together and then we go from there.
Being an English Major, I have a love for stories that enables me to never tire of seeing how God the Author of each and every one of our stories knows everything about us. The fact that He even knows us better than we know ourselves is absolutely mind-blowing. Shoot, He knows what we're going to do before we even think about doing it. He knows how long each of our lives will be, how they'll end and when. He's literally the Great Author of real life stories (no fictional ideals included). Now, a concluding question for all of us to think about. How can I share my story in a way that will encourage those around me to seek Him?
Last week, I read an article that talked about practicing the five foundational habits of discipleship and how these habits can be better incorporated into our ministry through accountability and and much self-discipline. These habits, in no particular order, are: 1. Spending personal time in prayer, 2. Studying/journaling/reflecting on scripture daily, 3. Memorizing scripture, 4. Being active in the church body, and 5. Practicing the three daily habits of evangelism (I'll get into those another time). Surprisingly, being involved in the church body has been the easiest habit for me to practice whereas spending personal time in prayer, studying the Bible and memorizing scriptures haven't been so easy. Remember, this is coming from an introvert who doesn't do a lot of socializing.
Throughout the article, Paul Worcester emphasizes the importance of each of these habits when discipling and mentoring our college ministry's staff and student leaders. In fact, one of his own staff members, whom he often follows up with for accountability in these areas, "sees these habits not as lessons to take a person through, but training objectives to ingrain into a disciple's life." Of course, any of us (myself included) can read about the necessity of these habits and be enlightened by the knowledge and encouragement the article brings to the table but if we don't make an effort to put them into practice, they won't do us any good. There's a saying that's often used when learning a language, "If you don't use it, you lose it." I believe this applies to many other areas in life as well, including the practice of healthy habits, whether spiritual or physical. Learning about them and how to use them is one thing but the effort is pointless if we don't practice using them.
What's especially important though, is that we avoid making the practice of these habits legalistic. There are so many times when I feel like I should read my Bible or spend time in prayer because I know it's what I should do as a Christian. But to practice any of these habits out of obligation would deem us no better than the infamous Pharisees we read about in the New Testament. "Spiritual disciplines are not practiced for the purpose of earning God's favor," Worcester adds. "Jesus accomplished that through His death on the cross!" It ought to be out of sincere gratitude for what He's done---and longing to commune with Him---that we should practice these disciplines; not because we have to, but because we want to. That doesn't mean it's still an everyday struggle though. Like many other things (exercise included), these spiritual disciplines need to be practiced even on the days when we don't feel like doing them. The more we practice these habits, the better we'll get at doing them and the more we'll enjoy them too.
Being a college ministry, CoMission highly values each one of these spiritual disciplines and our on-campus staff (also known as multipliers) make every effort to challenge and encourage their students to practice these habits on some level. The staff team also meets together every Monday morning for an hour of prayer together before getting into our regular meeting. Of course, we each value them too but I for one struggle with making them an everyday priority in my personal life. The fact of the matter is, I oftentimes find it difficult to enjoy spending time with the Lord. My mind wonders and sometimes I even doze off. Naturally, excuses abound for putting Him off but they're not acceptable.
Two days ago, I deleted all my social media apps off my phone (except Marco Polo because I'm not exactly hooked on that) to prevent the temptation of spending mindless hours of scrolling. The intent is spending at least a few minutes in prayer every time I get the urge to scroll and get filled in on everyone else's lives. That hasn't happened yet but Lord willing, His Spirit will slap me into shape sooner than later. Sleep has also become an idol in my life over the last couple of years and that's a hard one to shatter. When you're in a brain fog and can't focus on anything because you're tired, why even bother right? Well, I think I'm learning that praying while falling asleep is proving to be helpful because I actually woke up before my alarm this morning and was ready to seize the day. Well, sort of. I still took a few extra minutes before rolling out of bed but I'm sure I shaved off at least 5 minutes.
Regardless of whatever baby steps we need to take to move in the right direction toward making these spiritual disciplines a part of our regular routines, I believe the Lord will honor our efforts. My prayer for all of us this next week is that we will ask Him to fill us with His spirit that we may continue to grow in our joy in Him.
"I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord." - George Muller
About a month ago, I presented the subject on the importance of getting uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel. This week, I'm going to share an example of how we in CoMission do just that.
COVID-19 might have hindered us from doing group events on the college campus but thanks the ingenuity of our part-time staff member, Re'Lynn, we were able to practice one of our "favorite" outreach discomforts last Friday night at a park in downtown St. Pete. This activity is called Question For a Coke.
Question For a Coke is literally what we say it is. We ask passerby if we can ask them a question or two and in exchange for their answer, they get a free soda (Coke of course) or water. The questions we ask come in various formations such as, "Do you believe there's a God?" or "Do you have any spiritual/religious beliefs?" Depending on the person's response, we ask if (s)he would be willing to answer a few more questions in hopes to get an invaluable conversation going. If the person is willing, some further questions to ask could be "Were you raised with any certain beliefs?" or "Do you think religion/spirituality is important?" All these questions are intended to strike up friendly conversations about a person's story with the hope of then being able to share our story and ultimately God's story and based on how a conversation goes, there could be potential for exchanging contact information and setting up future meetings.
One aspect of this activity we believe to be important is to let the other person talk without interruption. While the ideal and ultimate goal is to lead unbelievers to Christ, that's not always going to happen, but especially not if we behave with arrogance, abrasiveness and/or narrow-mindedness. Gregory Koukl said it best in his book, Tactics: "Instead of trying to get to the cross in every encounter, just aim to put a stone in someone's shoe. Try to give the person something to think about. Be content to plant a thought or an idea that might later flourish under God's sovereign care. Be a good gardener, then trust the Lord to bring in the harvest in his proper time" (51).
I'm going to be real for a minute. I don't put much effort into even trying to be a better gardener, let alone a good one. Why? Because like everyone else, I hate getting out of my comfort zone. Even when I have people to push me and hold me accountable, I most often tend to push back. I went to Question For a Coke knowing that was way out of my comfort zone, not just because sharing the gospel can be uncomfortable but because talking to random people in general is uncomfortable. It was honestly a waste of time because even though I was physically present, I left the event knowing that wasn't enough because I didn't try even once to go beyond that. I was stubborn, fearful, and worse, disobedient to God. And let me tell you, there's no worse feeling than knowing you've been disobedient to your Father by depriving the lost of His good news.
Lord willing, one of these days, I'll allow His grace and power to change my heart in this way.
“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:16-18
Welcome to the last blog for the month of October everyone! This week's content is going to be yet again something special as you read another story from one of our CoMission USFSP alumni. Zack Batdorf graduated from USFSP in the summer of 2017 (I just so happened to graduate that spring) and during those two short years as students, I was privileged to get to know him and see how the Lord has made a radical difference in his life. Here's his story.
In January of 2015, I was in a whole new world transitioning from small community college (SPC Seminole) to big University (USFSP). I felt like a definite “fish out of water” and was stressed on that first week of hitting the campus. I also felt very lost and on my own at that point as I knew just 2 individuals at the school. Getting my priorities straight looked like absolute chaos. Between the new commute from my new apartment in downtown to the school, finding all my classes, and keeping my finances in check I was overwhelmed.
I had recently become a believer in Jesus two years prior to my arrival at USFSP and was very immature in my faith. I could feel that this was a very pivotal point in my life, not just for my education, but also for my relationship with God. One day, I remember I was walking down the main strip to go to one of my first classes, and with no expectation at all someone greeted me from a table. What I did not realize at that moment was that table was going to be the start of my life in community that I never knew I needed.
The boldness and kindness that was poured out to me at that moment seemed so unnatural. The man introduced himself as Ryan Carver and further told me how he was a part of an on-campus ministry called CoMission. When he found out that I was already a believer I saw his eyes light up and without him even saying it I could sense he was thinking “you belong here”. Isn’t that what we all want in this life? To feel like we have a purpose and belong somewhere? Jesus had already made my purpose clear and I could feel Him showing me where I belonged in this crazy season of life.
There was absolutely no regret in my decision to instantly say yes to living in community with my now lifelong friends of CoMission. We would meet every Thursday night at people’s houses and apartments just to do life together and to glorify the name of Jesus. Seriously, how cool is that? There would always be a dinner ready, laughter, love, and a feeling of something closer than family. I can just see looking back how God blessed me in that time when I never understood what the purpose of community was for in the first place. I am eternally grateful for CoMission and what they provided me. They helped me understand the importance of not doing life alone, hospitality, discipleship, evangelism, prayer, and the list could continue into the next five blog posts you read! Most importantly they were there through some of my darkest moments to remind me that the love of God is unfailing, unconditional, and able to save you in the lowest of lows. To all of my brothers and sisters in CoMission I LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU!
William Carey, a British missionary to India during the late 18th/early 19th centuries, once said, "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." I've lately been thinking a lot about this new favorite quote as our CoMission staff have been looking toward the future while going through a 10-month seminar called Campus Multiplication Network.
This month, we completed our first homework module which was all about casting vision, and Carey's quote was basically the theme of the module. We were given some articles to read and videos to watch, followed by a list of discussion questions that we had to answer about the materials. What were some takeaways? What stood out? What questions did these materials pose? Naturally, something that stood out to me was the necessity of casting a vision for the work we're doing in order to stay motivated on the mission. The article, "What is Your Mission and Vision?," written by Gary Stidham is basically what inspired this week's blog.
Like any other good business, campus ministries need mission statements that clearly explain what they do and why. The "why" aspect of our ministries however, is oftentimes overlooked and this is an important facet that plays into our vision. After all, it's the vision that "keeps us motivated because, by faith, we can see God accomplish it in the immediate future" (Stidham); an ideal picture of where our ministry could be in three to five years from now. Stidham clarifies the meaning of vision, quoting Andy Stanley, "Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be." Without a vision, I don't believe our ministry can do what we do as effectively because we wouldn't have a picture of the future to fuel our motivation for the labors we exert in the here and now.
Over the summer, our CoMission staff spent an estimated total of 24 hours (3 hours a day for eight days in a two-week period) strategizing and brainstorming to come up with a solid mission statement, plus many other details, for our organization. Today, that statement is "To relentlessly raise up college students as disciple-making teams that glorify God at any cost." While this statement clearly explains what we do, I realized several weeks ago that we completely neglected to incorporate the vision aspect. Looking back at our meeting notes, I noticed that we answered the question of why we exist, but not why we do what we do. Although, I believe each of our staff might have our own mini vision for CoMission, we never considered together what that vision could be for our team as a whole. Lord willing, we'll come to that consensus one of these days but in the meantime, we can each put William Carey's words to practice.
Whatever great things we expect God to do in the next several years, we should allow those expectations to motivate us to keep attempting great things for His glory now.
"Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18
Welcome back to CoMission's blog, fam! For this week's post, I'm going to share with y'all a key element that our CoMission staff uses throughout every semester to execute "thorough" evangelism and discipleship. This element is none other than the famous Gospel Appointment.
Your first question might be, "What is a Gospel Appointment?" I have a simple answer. A Gospel Appointment is literally just a one-on-one (or most often for our staff and student leaders, two-on-one) meeting that we have with someone who may not be a believer. This time is used intentionally as a way of building the person's trust and friendship by asking about his/her life story. We ask questions about their family life, where they're from, and most importantly, their spiritual beliefs which often transitions to us being able to share The Story in 4 Gospel presentation. Paul Worcester said it best when deeming the Gospel Appointment as "the most liberating and effective evangelistic strategy....intentional relational evangelism."
Now, how do we get a Gospel Appointment? This is the part that's easily said but not so easily done because it requires reaching out to random strangers. Unless you're extroverted and don't meet a stranger. But for introverted people like myself, this takes a LOT of grace and boldness which cannot be attained without the Holy Spirit. This semester, all the gospel appointments that our staff have set up have been through either messaging strangers on social media (thanks to the schools' group pages) or randomly approaching a stranger on the campus sidewalk. These brief encounters are just spent introducing ourselves and the organization we're a part of (not to mention the raffles we're handing out at the beginning of the semester). Then we ask that person if he/she would be interested in meeting up with us for coffee or lunch to learn more about CoMission and if they say yes, we get their phone number and reach out at a later time to set up the appointment.
While the process of getting a Gospel Appointment does sound relatively easy, it can be difficult in more ways than one. More often than not, those first introduction messages get ignored. As do the follow-up texts with someone we literally just met on the sidewalk yesterday. The reality is, most people are skeptical and/or forgetful. I'm that way too so I know firsthand what it's like to be on the receiving end of a strange social media message. Another discouragement is when we meet with someone for a Gospel Appointment and they say they're not interested and don't want any more to do us after that. Rejections like these can definitely cause a lot of negative feelings but Matthew 10:14 encourages us to shake the dust from our feet and move on if someone doesn't receive us.
So far this semester, our staff have had roughly 20 Gospel Appointments and about eight of those students have gotten connected into our community in some way, even if it's just a once-a-week gathering. While these numbers are significantly lower than what we've had in the past because of the pandemic, I can't express enough how much I truly believe the Lord will honor the work we've put in despite these challenges. But more importantly, I eagerly anticipate that He will radically change the lives of these few students He's allowed us to connect with, even if all we could do was plant a seed.
"Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet."
Matthew 10:11-14 NKJV
Well everyone, we're already halfway through the fall semester! Hard to believe, right? Students are going through mid-term exams and our CoMission staff and student leaders are staying busy as they continue to meet new students and bring them into our Gospel-centered community. Here's what the Lord has done through CoMission over the last month and a half.
Every year in September, CoMission takes a group of students on a weekend fall retreat. This year, however looked a little different because of COVID-19. Instead of renting an Airbnb 2-3 hours away for a whole weekend, a small group of staff and students gathered together for a day of fellowship and fun. The day started a local breakfast café and then the group spent several hours at Fort DeSoto Beach. During that time, one of our students, Sam was baptized! After being connected with us for a year and seeing another student's baptism earlier in the semester, God stirred his heart to ask questions about what it means to be baptized and follow Christ. He realized he was living in darkness and needed a Savior and now, he's walking in light and learning to share the gospel with others.
The remainder of this "fall retreat" day was spent at the home of one of my colleagues for rest and relaxation, dinner and a movie. Throughout the day, three time blocks were set aside for the group to gather and spend time learning about how Jesus is better than anything/anyone else this world can offer. Three of our staff took turns teaching a different topic on this discussion and some good questions were brought to the table for consideration. Questions like, "What defines our identity?" "Will the things we pursue in the world ever be enough?/Still be meaningful when we die?" These discussions were drawn from the book, Unsatisfied by Sean Vollendorf.
Since the "fall retreat" gathering almost three weekends ago, our staff have been continuing to meet new students while prayer walking the campuses, plus gathering for Bible studies and discipleship groups throughout the week. As of this week, we currently have about five different Seeker Bible studies that are each held once a week with an estimated total of about 15 students, including three CoMission student leaders (please note that these numbers are an educated guess based on staff discussions; our metrics for this specific area aren't fully up to date yet but hopefully soon). As for Gospel Appointments, our staff have met one-on-one with 18 students (16 from USFSP and two from SPC) and shared the Story in Four Gospel presentation with them. While these numbers are significantly lower than usual (no thanks to the pandemic), we are trusting the Lord is doing great things through our team and and through each student we interact with.
Another exciting thing that just happened yesterday was the initiation of a Gospel Appointment by Gabby, one of our students who was recently baptized just days before the fall semester began. Oftentimes, a newly baptized student who's still learning how to share the gospel is challenged by their discipleship leader (a CoMission staff member) to do so, but not Gabby. She set up a Gospel Appointment with a fellow USFSP student all on her own without being pushed. Now that's the kind of disciple I aspire to be. Maybe one of these days, by God's grace and empowerment of His Spirit. In the meantime, I'll be joining in on one next week with my co-worker, ReLynn. We'll be meeting with a dual-enrolled student at the SPC cafeteria and there's a possibility she might be Muslim. Please be in prayer for us and Gabby as we approach these upcoming Gospel Appointments; that the Holy Spirit will prepare our hearts and the hearts of the students we meet up with, that if nothing else benefits from these conversations, a seed could at least be planted for future nurturing by other workers. May He get all the glory, regardless of the outcome.
Well everyone, another week and another blog are upon us and what better way to start off the month of October than with something special? You're going to get a break from my rambling on and on about deep, spiritual heart issues and mind-boggling, detailed information. Instead, you're going to get to sit back and enjoy the testimony of one of CoMission's alumni members. In fact, this special individual was one of the very first people I met when I transferred to USFSP as a junior five years ago.
Jennifer Nesslar (now Jennifer Bauer) had just graduated from USFSP earlier that year (2015) and she and our director, Ryan Carver just happened to be in the right place at the right time on move-in day that fall when I was just starting a new adventure in my life. Needless to say, the Lord threw open a door that would lead me to where I am today. But this blog is not about my story. Maybe for a later time. Right now, I hope you find encouragement in Jennifer's story about how CoMission impacted her life.
When I arrived at USF St. Petersburg in 2012, I felt like I’d landed on another planet -- even though I was only 30 minutes away from my hometown.
As a freshman, I was devoted to my faith in Jesus. I had a whole community of Christians cheering me on back home. Yet I felt unable to make sense of the school I’d chosen for my college education.
I had expected to find a number of people on campus who shared my faith, but in my first semester I struggled to make friends at all, let alone friends with similar beliefs. Most of my professors were kind and caring, but I had a few uncomfortable experiences in my classes. I began to wonder “what if people are against me and my faith?” I worried that there wasn’t a place for me as a Christian at USFSP.
As I prepared for my final exams that semester, I began to research what it would look like for me to transfer away. But one day, one of my classmates approached me. “Hey, I know you’re a Christian,” she said. “Have you ever heard of CoMission?”
I’d seen signs for CoMission around campus, but I never realized what it was. At my new friend’s invitation, I soon found out. It was an on-campus gathering of people who were coming together to consider the claims of Jesus.
The thought of transferring to a new school was still on the forefront of my mind, but I immediately felt welcomed and loved by the people I encountered in CoMission. As I spent time with them, I began to look at my professors and peers more graciously.
CoMission challenged me to consider what I believed and learn how to explain it to others. I didn’t need to see my professors and classmates as combatants, but rather as people who could come alongside of me in conversation as we considered who Jesus was and if he was really worth following.
I realized that most everyone I encountered had heard the term “Christian,” but that didn’t mean they knew what I believed.
So what did I believe?
What I Believed (And Still Believe Today!)
Following Christ revolves around one central message -- and it’s extremely good news.
I find it’s most helpful to sum it up in four points.
Creation (Genesis 1-2) - God created the world, and He made it so good. Everything was perfect. There was no sickness or suffering. That also meant that everyone’s relationship with God was perfect.
Fall (Genesis 3) - The people God created lived in perfect harmony with God, but they began believing that if they went their own way, life would be better. They rebelled, or sinned, against God. Their perfect relationship with God was broken. They got what they wanted -- life their own way. But it wasn’t anything like they had hoped. Pain, suffering, sadness, death -- all the things we now hate -- entered the world. This sin has plagued the world, and our own hearts, ever since.
Redemption (Romans 5:6-8) - God wasn’t standing by helplessly. He had a perfect plan to bring His people back into relationship with Him. He sent His son, Jesus, to earth. He lived a perfect life, but many people hated Him. They crucified him on a cross. Although this seemed terrible, this was in fact all part of God’s plan to redeem the world. When He died, He took on the punishment we deserved for our rebellion against God. But then He rose from the dead! He defeated our sin. Here’s the good news - anyone who trusts in Jesus’s sacrifice has a restored relationship with God.
Restoration (Romans 5:9-11) - People who follow Jesus no longer have to fear death or punishment from God, because in life and after death they will be with God forever. But following Jesus is so much more than what happens after we die! From the moment we follow Him, God begins to restore our hearts. Seeing Him as in control of our lives, rather than our own desires, changes everything about us. And even as God as molding our own hearts, He is making all things new in our world. And we get to join him in His mission to restore the world, until He returns and makes everything right again. We get to share this message with others!
What I Learned
When I was on campus at USFSP, it became my joy to help others understand what I meant when I said the word “Christian.” I certainly didn’t do it perfectly, and I still struggled at times. But when I graduated, I was glad that my diploma came from USFSP.
I also graduated with so many wonderful friends cheering me on.
I had a better understanding of what the good news of Jesus meant for my own life. It wasn’t something that was only relevant to me when I chose to follow Christ. It’s something I still need to be reminded of everyday. Sometimes I feel like I need to earn God’s favor all over again, and I remind myself that Jesus already won that for me.
Good morning friends and family! I don't know about y'all, but I'm so excited that fall is officially here. Well, it's about as close as it's gonna get for Florida anyway. Less humidity, cooler mornings and a refreshing breeze throughout the day really does make life a little more comfortable. Speaking of comfort, that leads us into this week's blog post. So, if you didn't let the title deter you from reading it, great job! I promise I will make your time worth it.
Every once in a while, I receive emails from Campus Ministry Today which feature encouraging stories with helpful tips about how we as a collegiate ministry can improve our methods of outreach. There have even been some interesting topics about what other ministries are doing to reach students during the pandemic. However, there was one story that was written earlier in the month that really caught my attention. The story is titled "3 Reasons It Feels Hard To Be Bold About Jesus" and written by Beau Crosetto, the director of Greek, InterVarsity in Los Angeles, California. This piece was originally published on June 17 on his website, beyondawkward.com, which is based on the title of his book, Beyond Awkward.
The general basis of Crosetto's story is how we as followers of Christ sometimes have to break at least one of the three social norms in today's Western culture in order to share our faith for the sake of furthering His gospel. These social norms are:
So, maybe you're asking yourself, "How can I do that without being disruptive or pushy?" Believe me, I'm always asking myself that question as well and Crosetto has a great answer.
He refers to the story of Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-38. The Ethiopian is sitting in his chariot, reading the book of Isaiah when Philip approaches him and asks if he understands what he's reading. Philip just broke the first social norm of not talking to strangers, but was his approach pushy? Not at all. He simply asked a question. But it was bold. Yes, it might be uncomfortable or awkward when we randomly ask someone a question or start a conversation, but how that person responds will help us determine if the ball is in play for further conversation. "Bold people move forward when the door opens, and close the conversation down when the door is closed. They don't force a conversation on someone. Pushy people, on the other hand, move forward even when the door seems to be closed." (Crosetto) If a person responds with openness and curiosity, seize the moment. But if he or she seems disinterested or skeptical, let it go.
This story truly resonates with what our CoMission staff do on a regular basis because interacting with people we don't know is literally a huge part of many of our job descriptions. It's not exactly part of mine, but I'm working on that, slowly but surely. If one of my coworkers goes walking on campus, I will volunteer to join them every once in a while for the sole purpose of getting uncomfortable if the opportunity arises. I might not have had near my fair share of awkward encounters compared to the rest of them yet and the truth is I often avoid those situations if at all possible. The fact of the matter is, I absolutely hate getting myself into uncomfortable and awkward social situations. But don't we all? We're going to have to get used to it though because that's just the reality of following Christ and being His disciples. After all, sharing the gospel isn't something God asks us to do. It's something He commands us to do. My prayer for all of us is that God will empower and embolden us with His grace and Holy Spirit so we can follow through with task every chance we get until the end of our lives.
Well friends, it's another week which means it's time for another blog! I'll try to make this one a little shorter than the last several posts (no promises though) but that doesn't mean it's going to be any less important. In fact, I would say it's the second most important decision a new believer can make after surrendering their lives to Christ; baptism.
Yes, baptism is a ritual but we in CoMission believe it to be more than just that. We believe that it publicly symbolizes a new believer's decision to follow Christ; a decision to die to their old life of sin and be born to a new life that honors God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said it best when he answered Nicodemus's question, "How can a man be born when he is old?..." Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which so born of the Spirit is spirit.'" (John 3:4-6)
When a student is ready to consider baptism (this usually happens after they have gone through a 6-week Seeker Study), we go through a document with him/her that covers all the bases of the subject. It's vital to make sure the student understands why (s)he is getting baptized and it's also beneficial to ensure the student is willing to commit to this new way of life in following Jesus wholeheartedly. Naturally, this includes getting out of their comfort zones to make disciples and bring more students to Christ. The baptism document that we take our students through covers the following statements.
Finally, document answers all the necessary "why," "who" and "when" questions, such as who can be baptized, why one should be baptized and when one can be baptized (we prefer as soon as possible because why not?). It also covers basic questions such as what should be worn for a baptism and what takes place during a baptism. I could include every nitty, gritty detail but for the sake of time, I'll just share a button that's linked to our document so you can indulge your curiosity if you so desire. Also, for the sake of credibility, the information provided on the last two documents were referenced out of a book titled, Saturate written by Jeff Vanderstelt who is a teaching pastor in Washington. I haven't read the book myself but it's on the list.
While I believe this week's discussion was appropriate for following last week's post about making disciples, the main reason I wanted to share about baptism is because we currently have a student who is considering the cost of following Jesus. He has been going through a Seeker Study with one of our staff and student leaders and will soon be taken through the baptism document. How did he come to this point in his life? By witnessing the baptism of another student four weeks before classes started! This student's name is Gabby (pictured in the middle) and she had been seeking God for some time, even before ReLynn (pictured right) and I took her through a Seeker Study. One evening, we went through the baptism document with her and she immediately expressed a genuine excitement for taking this next step. Hours later, at our weekly beach gathering, we baptized her. Now, she's getting connected into a DNA group where she will learn how to make disciples herself. Seeing students who express a desire, not only to just accept Jesus as their Savior but to devotedly follow him by sharing the gospel with even more students, is such a joy and worth every ounce of personal, relational investment.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." Matthew 28:19-20
I serve with CoMission full-time as the Executive Assistant. My role includes everything from bookkeeping to proofreading and now keeping this blog so you, our family of missionary servants, can stay updated on our latest happenings. Love y'all and hope y'all find this blog informative and encouraging.