For a summary of what I’m hoping to accomplish in this blog series (in the third week of every month of 2018), I recommend reviewing my explanation here.For Impact Campus Ministries, we are trying to grow in the concept of “starting with the … More
Today was a breather kind of day. It’s a Saturday and it has been snowing… again… beautiful but a great …
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For a summary of what I’m hoping to accomplish in this blog series (in the second week of every month of 2018), I recommend reviewing my explanation here.Administration. It’s probably not the most inspiring part of my job, and maybe it’s an o… More
For a summary of what I’m hoping to accomplish in this blog series (the first week of every month of 2018), I recommend reviewing my explanation here.As we begin our look at the Top 12 Blog Posts of Covered in His Dust, we’re going to begin a… More
Luke 2:1-14 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This …
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And finally we wrap up my introduction to what is coming, starting in January. It’s only a few weeks away.
We’ve chatted about how we’ll be using the first week to review the top blog posts from the last five years. We’ve talked about how the second week will be a time to invite you into my life as a campus minister and as the President of Impact Campus Ministries. Last month, I introduced you to a little bit of the history behind ICM and our mission, vision, and values; we talked about the third week being dedicated to casting some vision around our common language and culture at ICM. So what is going to be the topic in week four?
We all love good stories. Stories enable us to see a great idea in action. There is something unbelievably powerful about taking a concept and wrapping it in the flesh of human experience. And so, whatever idea we talked about that month (from the previous week), I’ll be finding a story to write about or share with you so we can see the idea with feet on it.
When we take time to talk about the process of discipleship, I want to find a story about someone who engaged in that process. What did discipleship look like to them? How did our definition find life in their experience? What pieces of advice would they give?
When we talk about our commitment to pursue (intimacy with God), what example can I find of someone who created space to pursue God passionately? What fruit was borne of that pursuit? What can we learn from those stories of success (and even failure)?
When we pull apart our value of excellence, who embodies our idea of excellence? How do they (and we) balance the tension between letting God bear the fruit and putting in an effort of excellence at all times? What does it mean to do our part and trust God to do His?
The fact of the matter is that we are surrounded by these stories every day. As campus ministers, we ought to be sharing the stories with others. The truest testimony to whether or not something works is just that: testimony. An idea is just an idea unless it becomes real in the life of another human being. A product is just a product unless it really proves itself useful to others. Nobody cares about whether a culture or belief system is right or wrong unless it becomes compelling to others through the lens of experience.
Stories are the most powerful teaching tools we’ll ever have. God believed in the power of story; He worked through Elisha to tell Naaman to “go in peace,” armed only with his experience to change the world of Aram. Jesus believed in the power of story; he turned down an eager applicant for discipleship, telling him instead to go home and tell others his story. These are instances where people lacked any training in theology or management. They were not equipped with what the world might have called “conventional wisdom.” But they had their story.
Stories have changed the course of history more than once. Maybe we should put more stock in stories; maybe we should put more stock in our own stories.
Now, storytelling is something most of us have to get better at. It’s definitely something ICM is trying to get better at. Please don’t let me overhype what’s coming. We’re not expert storytellers, but we’d like to be better storytellers, so we’re going to try. Maybe we’ll struggle through and maybe it will be incredible. There’s only one way to find out.
So for week four, I’ll invite you to a new series: Pull Up a Chair.
We’ve now talked about my four-week rotation for every calendar month of 2018. We talked about how I’ll be using the first week of the rotations to talk about the Top 12 Blog Posts of Covered in His Dust
. We’ve also spoken about how I’ll be using the second week to bring you a little series titled A Day in the Life
. Now it’s time to talk about what we’ll be covering in the third week of our monthly rotations.
While I don’t think it’s a secret to my readers, my vocational calling is one where I serve as the President of Impact Campus Ministries
. At ICM, we believe in the work of campus ministry because we believe that if we can impact the university campus, we can impact the world. We truly believe that tomorrow’s great leaders are studying on campuses all over this country; we believe there are students here that will be called to all kinds of international destinations and jobs to make an impact in their particular contexts. In fact, the largest growing demographic of students is the international student — what better chance to impact the world on the global scale than to shape tomorrow’s leaders on today’s campuses?
Here is a video we made that talks about all of that:
One of the reasons I love ICM so much is because of the culture and the vision of our organization. Some of that culture was built into Impact from its earliest years of ministry. Amazing people like Dean Trune planted a counter-intuitive belief in ICM that true success is developing intimacy with God. I love working for an organization that runs against the current of mainstream thought — thought that believes all we need is a little more hard work — and says that true success is a fruitfulness that comes from what God wants to do through us. And maybe it has to be “caught not taught,” but just listen to this definition of success that was written long before I ever worked for ICM:
Success is developing intimacy with God and community with each other through a living relationship with Jesus. We believe an individual, who is developing intimacy with God, in the context of Christian community, will make an impact for the Kingdom of God.
A team of individuals, who make an impact for the Kingdom of God, will have a fruitful ministry. Though we do not aim for “making an impact,” and we do not aim for “fruitful ministries,” we recognize that these two situations will supernaturally occur when individuals develop intimacy with God in Christian community.
Ministry is the product of our love for God, and an expression of a heart devoted to God. We must not allow “ministry for God” to crowd “intimacy with God” out of our lives. We cannot control “making an impact,” and we cannot control “fruitful ministries,” but we have absolute control over developing intimacy with God and being devoted to one another.
I love that!
Out of this core belief, those who came after Dean and before me created a mission that still excites me. We exist to pursue, model, and teach intimacy with God in Christian community on the American university campus. Out of this mission statement we built a “common language” that we believe, over time, helps foster a culture to make ICM great. ICM is indebted to the leadership of Bill Westfall for this guidance.
We created eight core terms we use to talk about the discipleship process; we also have a list of six values on which we build our organization. We wanted to have shared definitions of what these words mean to us as an organization because we believe words are powerful. We created short definitions for disciple and discipleship. We found it to be very beneficial to identify exactly what pursue, model, and teach mean as ideas. And we also decided it would be helpful to expound on the importance of message, mode, and milieu. All of this is built upon the foundation of our values: passion [for God], community, character, excellence, [the local] church, and compassion.
Now, it’s important for me to state that this is simply our culture at ICM. This is not some seminar on success or how you can follow our formula to greatness. We don’t travel around the country putting on conferences about these terms and why they’re so great — “and you can do it too!” In fact, the mentality of ICM runs against this big box, perform-and-impress idea about church.
No, this is simply a conversation that means a lot to us. To be honest, I’ll be using this third week to write about these ideas for my staff and those connected to our organization. If Dean Trune instilled a definition of success — the spirit and DNA of ICM — and if Bill Westfall helped create a vision and mission for the future, then my job is to help us take ground and continue becoming the organization these great leaders dreamed about. And that means we need to keep talking about these ideas and pushing into them. Every day, every year — moving forward.
But these conversations are not something we want to keep secret. We want to share them with you. I will be posting a monthly article on one of our core terms and casting a little vision of what it looks like to pursue these ideas. If they bless you and help you in some way, we are excited and thrilled to be a part of what God wants to do in your life. If they don’t, that’s fine too. We have no plans for world domination.
So for the third week of every month, I invite you into the conversation of Making an Impact.
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