It's been a year of change for us. We started 2012 with a new strategy for RC. We realized that we were trying to do too much. Discipleship, evangelism, defending truth on campus, mentoring, answering skeptics and seeker, etc. It was too much for too few people.To narrow our goals, we wanted to focus on training Christian students to be confident evangelists. We changed all of our promotional material and ads to reflect this. Most Christians, we assumed, know they're supposed to share their faith -- they just don't know how or don't have the confidence.
We soon found that while many new students we talked to on campus were on board with this new direction, they just didn't show up. It was a good semester with a steady attendance, but I could tell something wasn't quite right.
As summer began, I came across "Real Life Discipleship" (RLD) by Jim Putman. It's a great book that shows the biblical mandate and practical framework for intentional discipleship. The wisdom of the book cannot be understated.
For the rest of summer, I worked on revamping our ministry model. In early August, before the semester began, we held our first leadership training. It was 3 days spread over three weeks of explaining how RLD could be used for RC. Everyone was on board. There was excitement at the end of the training about how this really captures the purpose of RC in a simple and intentional way.
RLD had several main points that I've found to be extremely helpful in our ministry.
First, "God's part, your part, and my part." Helping students know that they are only responsible for doing their part. You can't make someone believe in Jesus. That's God's part in revealing Himself to them; and their part in responding to the Holy Spirit. You can't make someone come to RC no matter how helpful you think it would be to them. That's their part. If they don't want to put the effort towards personal growth, you can't make them. Our part is to be faithful to God, live morally before Him, and continue to walk with and towards Him.
Second, "Gaging spiritual maturity levels." The book is the only discipleship book I've come across (and I've read many) that articulates how to measure how spiritually mature someone is. It's not a litmus test, nor is it flawless, but it is really good for seeing roughly where someone is. It's been particularly helpful in seeing that several individuals with a lot of intellect and knowledge were spiritually immature. I think some people equate age or amount of information with maturity, but that's not necessarily true. A person could have lived 15 years (or 50 for that matter) as a Christian, but still be a spiritual baby.
Third, "Meet them where they are." In line with spiritual maturity levels, you have to know your audience. That's something we've struggled with in the past. Thanks to RLD, I've had greater success in knowing how to approach students. Before we would do apologetics at scholarly levels, but it wasn't appealing and we didn't know why. Now we're doing apologetics at lay levels and students are really enjoying getting a wide range of apologetics material presented to them at "introduction" levels. Several students have come to us this semester to tell us that we were intimidating before, but now we're very approachable. They appreciate the beginner level packaging of the material, because that's where they are.
Finally, be relational while being intentional. We're in the process of meeting in small group settings outside of our normal meetings to mentor, pray with, and help students grow into spiritual maturity.
I feel incredibly blessed from this fall semester. We're seeing a real impact on campus. I've been able to share things that really helped me as I went through college, and I love relating my walk with God to students. I think it helps with the relationship aspect of the ministry. It's been more of a heart to heart than lessons with discussion on the end (which is our typical format). This has made a lot of difference.
It's been a great year. We've seen a student come to Christ and follow up with believer's baptism at a local church. We've opened up more to each other, growing closer together as a group. We've even worked with other campus ministries to help disciple some of their students. I don't see any of this as my doing. I gave up on trying to make RC "work." It's in God's hands - that's His part. It's my part to follow Him as He leads me and serve others as best I can. To God be the glory alone.