For a summary of what I’m hoping to accomplish in this blog series (in the fourth week of every month of 2018), I recommend reviewing my explanation here.
Tom Neyhart is the Lead Campus Minister for Impact Campus Ministries in South Bend. I love to watch Tom grow in his passion for discipleship; he is a model campus minister in his work to develop his young student leaders and teach them how to do the work of leadership. When I thought of ICM's commitment to TEACH, I immediately thought to ask Tom to share his thoughts on the idea here.
I love working with college students! They can sometimes be frustrating, but more often, I am simply amazed as they grow in their faith. Our mission statement focuses on three things: pursuing God, modeling that pursuit in front of others, and teaching students in furthering the discipleship process. In many ways, this is like the ripple effect when you drop a stone in a still pond: the rings continue moving outward, one after another. When we instruct others to further the discipleship process, the idea of pursue, model, and teach continues to grow outward.
But if we leave the Teach out of the process, then we lose the ripple effect and we have a crucial problem. We end up with “disciples” who may grow in their own faith, but that is where it seems to end because of a struggle to apply and integrate their faith on a consistent basis. For me, vulnerability is a key aspect. How do I walk with a student through their current struggles if I am not willing to be vulnerable enough to let them see how I walk through mine? I believe those whom we disciple need to see us walking through the fire while relying on God and relying on spiritual disciplines to keep us moving forward in our own faith. It also requires us to show them our failures, even though it is uncomfortable. I have learned more lessons from my failures than my successes.
It is really a matter of understanding more than just knowing how to study and read biblical Text, how to pray, or engage in other spiritual disciplines; it’s also knowing why it is important and how to take the truths discovered in it into everyday life. It will not do much good if my students only know how to read the Text and it doesn’t filter into their lives.
There is another aspect to Teach that is crucial to our vision. If my students can’t further themselves in the discipleship process, they will not have much impact on students around them (impact the U) or have a lasting impact when they move beyond their campus (impact the world).
When I meet with students, I usually ask some leading questions that allow them to break down their day or week. What was good? What was bad? Where are you in your reading or what have you been reading this week? Usually they will talk pretty freely about what has affected them in school, at home, or at work, which gives an opportunity to bring it back to the biblical Text.
A few weeks ago, we were on a weekend retreat when one of the students I disciple, Spencer, had an opportunity to speak into the life of another student. It was unplanned, but God opened a door and Spencer took an approach similar to what I have often used in listening and allowing this student to share his heart and struggles. More importantly, he built a bond with another student, shared a bit of life with him, and was able to encourage him. Spencer took an opportunity to positively encourage and influence another student from another campus. That is exactly what I want to happen! When students start to grasp the pursuit for themselves, they begin to model it and connect to other students in a way I will never be able to as a 49-year-old Campus Minister.