College Group Potential Material

A recently graduated student who has been asked to lead a group of peers through some study at his new church has asked me for a list of stuff that he could potentially take the group through. I thought it might be helpful to share it here as well and let you guys add to the list. I know some of you are heavily involved in college ministries and your input would be greatly appreciated. Before I get to the list, though…

Hats off to Jim for not standing on the sidelines and for jumping into service at a new church as soon as you got to college! And thanks to the church for investing in young people and making space for them to learn to lead.

Ok. So.. in no particular order, here are some resources I’ve used and seen solid outcomes with young adults & college students. Not knowing particulars about the group itself or much about the context, this will be a general list, but can be a great place to start I hope:

BASIC video series from Francis Chan: This is a really good discussion starting video series in two sections: Who Is God? and We Are Church. There are 7 videos, with discussion guides and participant material for everyone to go through together. Could be a great baseline to build on for a new group of students from varied church backgrounds.

Catalyst GroupZines: I have not used these for a few years, but they’re a unique resource. Basically, a series of thick magazines full of articles exploring leadership from a lot of different angles and a myriad of leaders/writers. They are a companion/follow up to the content I saw at several Catalyst Conferences that I attended, but stand alone as well if you’ve got a group that is particularly leadership minded. (I’d also recommend the conferences themselves! Highly.)

Not A Fan from Kyle Idleman: This is a great little book about becoming completely committed to the cause of Christ. There are a lot of peripheral resources like journals and videos and discussion guides that can help a new group leader get comfortable challenging the group to a deeper discipleship than they may be used to. Also check out several other books Idleman has produced for small group use.

Eats With Sinners from Aaron Chambers: I may have a bias toward authors who’ve bought me good Chinese food, but this would be a great book for just about any group of Christians (college or otherwise) to walk through together. It’s a challenge to not just see people the way Jesus sees them, but to actually love them and treat them the way He treats them us.

Storyline from Donald Miller: This resource is a little different speed and may be tough to go through with a group that isn’t comfortable with each other. It’s more of an introspective study of how God has been shaping you throughout the events of your life. If your group can muster the trust to be transparent with each other, though, it could provide some great moments of clarity about just what God is up to in your lives. (If there’s a good counselor in your church that would be willing to help lead the group through this book, I could see that leading to a whole new level of benefit.)

Complete Guide to Money from Dave Ramsey: What college kid doesn’t need some help with money, right? I’d say go through the Financial Peace University, but unless your church will sponsor a class, most college students aren’t going to cough up the cash to get the whole kit, but this book goes through the bulk of the content anyway. Good principles that can help you avoid some big money mistakes that you may not have had a chance to make yet.

Sacred Marriage from Gary Thomas: Since we’re on the subject of more adult topics, how about marriage!? While many of the current crop of college students aren’t thinking about marriage, many are, and this is a good book digging in to God’s intention for marriage. Again, this may be one of those resources that can help you avoid some future mistakes (and also offers hope for the the redemption of past mistakes). This is also one of those resources that won’t hit home for some groups quite yet. Know your group, first.

PRAY by me: (Thank you for pretending like you didn’t see that coming, but if I don’t plug it, who will, right?) While this resource has not been offered from a huge platform and sold far fewer copies than the rest of this list, I really do see it doing a lot of good with groups and individuals that have gone through this guided journal. The ongoing conversation we are having with God is the fuel for His movement. Growing healthy in how we talk to God and listen to Him can enhance what we get out of any other resource/study. (I can get a special price for you depending on group size if you let me know you need a bunch of copies!)

Ok, college ministry friends… What are you using that’s working great for discipling college students? Would love to hear how things are going in your groups!

Is Your Church Designed to Lead?

The Christian faith has continued to advance because the Lord has continually raised up new leaders to disciple others. The Kingdom of God has continually advanced because God’s people have been developed and deployed to make disciples. The spreading of the faith is going to continue until people from every tribe, tongue, and nation are His. By His grace, He has invited us to join Him.

– Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck, Designed to Lead

In Designed to Lead, Geiger and Peck make a strong case for the church being the place God intends for leaders to be developed. Not just church leaders, but leaders in every culture and industry and strata of life, should be able to find development in and through the church. The quote above sums up just why this is so critical.

God is on a mission. He is renewing all things ~ and we have been invited to join Him in what He is accomplishing, but it doesn’t just happen on accident. He works through His people as we continue to put ourselves in environments where He stretches and transforms us. He works as His people continue to walk people through processes that turn guests into friends, friends into family, and family into partners. He works as we each take seriously his charge to make disciples.

What’s your next step in the process? What can you be doing to engage someone close to you in our mission to proclaim Christ as Lord? How are you being developed AND deployed on His mission to make disciples?

If you’re a church leader, I’d invite you to check the book out for yourself and begin to put a plan into place to develop leaders consistently and intentionally.

Hope Tested

So… yesterday I wrote this post about hope and responding to the darkness we encounter in life’s circumstances. Sometimes, it’s funny how life pushes back when you make a statement. Sometimes… it just hurts.

I went home and discovered that my basement was striving for swimming pool status once again. As I was writing words about hope in the darkness, brand new carpet was taking on water in the basement. In the very room that we’d done so much work to mitigate the possibility of flooding. In the very room that my 17 year old was so looking forward to having her own space for the first time in 15 years. In the very room in which we’d put down carpet THREE DAYS AGO! So now, the carpet is piled up with fans furiously attempting to push the moisture out into the air where it belongs (or at least SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN MY BASEMENT!).

And now I’m in a position to either live with the hope I claim to have that “God works everything out for the good of those that love Him” and reveal Him to be Lord, or light a match and reveal myself to be the fraud that I sometimes suspect I am.

I’m all out of matches, so here are a few observations:

  • There is a tiny fraction of humanity throughout history that would even have the chance to be upset by wet carpet. It’s an incredible time/place to be alive.
  • We have been so ridiculously blessed that it’s easy to forget that the best is yet to come. I have another place being prepared for me by the Maker of everything. You can bet its basement won’t flood!
  • My basement doesn’t really matter. The room can sit empty. My daughters can keep sharing a room upstairs until we can figure something else out. They’ll be fine. We still have everything we really need. Maybe this is just a reminder of what that really is.

Don’t Hide Your Hope

With reports of bad news being plentiful these days, hope stands out. In fact, hope shines brightest when circumstances are at their worst.

And when hope shines, questions arise.

How are you not devastated? (by your cancer diagnosis)

How can you keep smiling? (when your home had just been flooded)

How will your family make it? (when you just lost your job or spouse)

… the questions are many.

And every one of them is an opportunity to explain the hope we have as believers. These questions are open doors to speak life into people’s hearts and minds. But only if we’re ready. Too often, when life is roughest, I want to just crawl in a hole and be alone. I think I still understand the hope… I just don’t feel like sharing it. So my hope is buried and hidden away from the world.

Don’t hide your hope.

The people around you are desperate to see some right now and learn where they can find some of their own.