GLORIETA, N.M. (BP) — The needs of a hurting world — and transformational missions opportunities to meet those needs — were set before 2,000-plus students during Collegiate Week at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, N.M.
The gathering for collegians and adult leaders from across the country was sponsored by the Threads young adult area of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
People who are sold out to Jesus have amazing opportunities to see Him at work, said Michael Kelley, one of the week’s featured speakers.
“Christianity is not a crutch for the weak,” said Kelley, Bible study editor at LifeWay and a Threads author. “That gives us too much credit. Christianity is a stretcher for the dead! We didn’t just need a little help. We are a bunch of reborn corpses.
“You can’t script out what happened to us when Christ came into our lives,” Kelley continued. “We’ve been born again into a family that will never revoke our membership.”
Kelley said his heart’s goal is to be “left breathless with praise welling up and erupting in the light of what God is doing in us.”
Another featured speaker, Matt Chandler, lead pastor at The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas, spoke about dealing with sin before it completely takes hold.
“You have issues. Sin issues. They are in your life,” Chandler told the college crowd. “You know it. You admit it. You confess it. You swear you’ll never do it again. But then you go right out and do it again.”
Speaking directly to young men in the audience, Chandler said: “Men, it’s a terrifying reality that your sin will affect your wife and your children. Deal with it now so you won’t have to deal with it 10 years from now. God will expose your sin. He does that. It’s better if you confess and repent yourself.
“You overcome sin when you realize that Christ is lovelier than that sin,” Chandler said. “When you see Him as more beautiful and more attractive than your sin, you will cast aside the sin. You want to get out of sin? Grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Students and leaders chose from more than 150 breakout sessions on topics ranging from C.S. Lewis, evangelism and marriage to social networking, an in-depth dive into Genesis, money management, long-term missions and BAM (Be a Man).
Linda Osborne, director of LifeWay’s Threads area, facilitated a session for leaders on helping students transition to young professionals.
“We have learned that this is a time of crisis for many students,” Osborne said. “Psychologists say that how a young person handles the first major crisis sets the stage for how they handle the rest.”
For this reason, some sort of transitional ministry is needed, Osborne said. Understanding that college juniors and seniors have more demands on their time academically, collegiate ministry leaders will have to accept that these students will be involved in college ministry differently than they were as freshmen and sophomores.
“Help them connect strongly to a local church,” Osborne said. “Remind them it is OK to be assertive in their church and find a place of ministry that will work with the time they have.”
Osborne said a young professional tends to look for four things in a church:
— Community: Young professionals want church to be authentic and real. They aren’t looking for fluff. Their time is too valuable for that.
— Connection: Young professionals want to be mentored by someone honest and practical. They want to connect with people of all ages, not just other young adults.
— Depth: Young professionals aren’t afraid of doing and learning hard things. Again, no fluff.
— Responsibility: Young professionals want their church to be proactive and meet needs they see. They want ministry to be local as well as national and international.
Leaders must invest their lives into young adults, said Chuck Lawless, author of “Mentoring,” a new book from Threads, and vice president for global theological advance at the International Mission Board.
“I’m convinced that if you aren’t mentoring someone, you aren’t following the biblical model [of Jesus]. For me, it’s just that basic,” Lawless said. “Our job is to invest ourselves in others so that if we die tomorrow, our ministry will go on.
“The people Jesus poured His life into became those who took the Gospel to the world,” Lawless said. “Mentoring takes a nobody and makes him a somebody. When you pour your life into somebody, you tell them they are important not only to you, but to God.”
Lindsay Lau, part of a nine-member group from Hawaii, said she learned “a lot” at the Aug. 7-11 Collegiate Week,
“But honestly, I have been put in a position to really think about my relationship with God and what He wants for me,” Lau said.
Polly House is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For information about upcoming events for collegians, visit www.ThreadsMedia.com/Events
John Moore, LifeWay Christian Resources’ national collegiate ministry specialist who coordinated the Collegiate Week event, answered several questions after the Aug. 7-11 sessions.
1. Collegiate Week has more than 2,000 attendees and you had to turn away some groups. Why do you think it’s such a consistently popular week?
Moore: I think it is so popular because students come expecting to hear from God. They are open to His leading and they come looking to hear from Him. During the week, He always speaks to their hearts.
2. Does LifeWay’s collegiate ministry area host any other events besides Collegiate Week?
Moore: Several. We have a NOW Conference webcast scheduled for Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. It is designed for young adults, including college students. It is a series of 20-minute messages that have a missional emphasis.
We also have a live NOW Conference April 13-14, 2012, at Brentwood Baptist Church in suburban Nashville, Tenn.
We also coordinate a beach ministry each spring known as Beach Reach. The dates for Beach Reach are March 3-9 and 10-16, 2012.
One other event just for collegiate leaders is our Collegiate Workers Summit scheduled for May 2-4, 2012, at LifeWay in Nashville. This meeting is designed for anyone who ministers to college students in any capacity — as a campus minister, church minister or even a Sunday School teacher. This event only happens every three years, so we always have a good turnout.
People can email me at jo[email protected] to get more information about these events.
3. Missions seemed to be a huge thrust at the year’s Collegiate Week. Why?
Moore: Missions has always been a major thrust for Baptist collegiate ministry, and it continues to be. However, this generation of students has a much more challenging mission field. Because they are so mobile and open to God’s calling, they have a special interest in understanding the missional call for their generation. They are sold out in their enthusiasm to make a difference in the world with their generation.
4. How long have you been involved in collegiate ministry? Has it always been your ministry passion?
Moore: I have been in collegiate ministry more than 30 years and, yes, I have always had a passion for reaching the next generation of leaders. This generation is very unique because they seem to be much more open to the opportunities God is presenting them to change their world. I just love this generation of students!
5. If you had the opportunity to give collegiate ministers one parting piece of advice to get them through the year, what would it be?
Moore: I want them to remember that college campuses are the largest mission field in this country. Although they may have lots of students involved in their ministry, there are many more on their campus who do not have a relationship with Christ.