Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Ups, Ins, and Outs of Summer

When you look at the life of Jesus, he cultivated three types of relationships: his relationship with the Father, his relationship with the disciples, and his relationship with a hurt and broken world. One of our central goals is to help university students cultivate these three types of relationships in their lives. We call it UP, IN, and OUT. So this summer we decided to structure our weekly gathering on a 3-week rotation of evenings focused on each one of these dimensions.

What did our UP, IN, and OUT nights look like this summer? 

Our nights would begin with a bbq meal or potluck. Pastor Matt and Sandra or Andrea and I mostly hosted, but a few of our students hosted at their parent's homes as well.  

  • On UP nights one of our students lead 4-6 songs of worship on acoustic guitar. We would give space for students to read passages of scripture or give a testimony. Some nights this led into some prayer ministry that was quite powerful. 
  • On IN nights we usually picked a particular passage from the bible to learn from, ask questions, and discuss. Sometimes we would get into smaller groups to share an application or prayer request. 
  • On OUT nights our goal was to either host a social evening where it was easy to invite someone new or we would attend to serving a practical need.
Below are two stories about "OUT" opportunities that came up over the summer.

Red Frogs at Canada Day 

This was our first time serving in our city! On Canada Day our Students' Union put on a free concert downtown Kelowna and invited us to bring our support. They gave away over 1,000 free hotdogs and we gave away over 1,500 cups of water and freezies alongside them. When debriefing, two of our froggers shared about how they had the opportunity to bring a couple of hotdogs to a homeless woman that had physical limitations. I love when our students are keeping their eyes open and serving beyond the call. 

Food Drive 

A student brought it to the attention of our summer group that the Kelowna Food Bank was critically low on many basic food items. We decided to set aside two 'OUT' nights in a row - one night to hand out flyers in the Quail Ridge neighbourhood and the next night to collect the items. We collected 800 pounds of food items! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Update on Meeting with the University

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end - it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely comes; it will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV)
This verse sums it up well for me. Too often I try to "make" things happen in James's timing. But when you are patient on the Lord's timing, he will not delay. 

Many of you have been asking about how our meetings with the university administration have gone. Thank you for your prayers! The short story is that we have been granted a unique agreement to use the Collegium spaces as "spiritual space" in the evenings for our Core Groups. 

What is a Collegium?

Collegium comes from the Latin word meaning "gathering place". They are on-campus spaces that offer a home-away-from-home for commuter students. UBCO has created four Collegiums on campus and we plan to use the ones closest to the dorm residences. Each Collegium has a relaxing lounge-style atmosphere and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, fireplace, tables, and kitchen facilities.

Essentially they are my dream type of space to host our Core Groups! 

In the past we had been told Collegiums are not bookable. These spaces are used weekdays 7am-6:30pm and are staffed by a senior student who welcome members, answer questions, and plan programs. But is seems we have favour with the administration at this time. At one point in the meeting we were making reference to our connection with the Wellness Centre and the Campus Life director said "oh, we have no need to do any reference checking with you guys." The VP of Students had spoken well of us and that's all she needed. We are grateful for the opportunity to use this space and hope it will increase our visibility and ability to be hospitable in reaching out to new students. 

Physical space was a challenge for our Friday Core Group this past year because 15-25 students were attending weekly. The Collegium spaces will allow us to comfortably host upwards of 25-30 students and give us the ability to do food in a highly visible space on campus.

Friday, April 24, 2015

3 Ways We Celebrate the End of the School Year

Students are in the midst of writing exams right now. Another school year has come to a close. But before exams started, we celebrated together a year of being on mission to the campus in these three ways:

Water Baptisms

Two students were baptized at our year-end baptism service, right on campus. We fill up a horse trough (no joke!) and do it right outside our Sunday Night venue. 

Lauren (above) joined UCM in her first year as result of connecting with a Core Group that met in her dorm. She journeyed with us these past four years. I remember praying with her last year as she came to a point of desiring to give her life to Jesus. She wanted to finish her time at UBCO by making that profession public amongst her peers and in the community in which she came to know Christ. I was honoured to have the privilege of "dunking" her. 

Grad Party

Our Grad Party is always a bitter sweet event. This year we said goodbye to 6 students. Speeches with loving words of encouragement and chalk full of funny stories and memories were shared. We now send them to other places, even around the world, to share what they gained of Christ while they were here. 

(Note: the food fight was contained to a small corner of the party and no graduating student was harmed). 

Red Frogging at "Recess" 

It was a record breaking event for the Red Frog crew. There were 3,000 in attendance at the officially biggest year-end concert party UBCO has ever thrown. We gave away 2 skateboards on stage and shared about Red Frogs. By the end of the night our previous record of 2,100 cups was shattered, having given away 3,600 cups of water to students in need of hydration. We also gave away more food then we ever have, including 500 donuts, 500 granola bars, 600 fruit bars, 120 wagon wheels, 4 tins of Ju-Jubes, and 4 bags of Red Frogs candies. 

The theme of the night was that our Red Frogs tables was a beacon of safety for many in the party. Several times people were bringing their inebriated friends to our table needing support. At one point, someone ran to our table asking for help for a friend because they didn't know what to do. We found First Aid and brought them the support they needed. Anna and I did a walk home with this one girl because she wasn't able to stand on her own and her friends weren't taking the situation serious enough. We connected her with her RA who took responsibility for her and put her to bed. Alyssa cared for one particular girl for over an hour. Too many stories like this to recount. But it was definitely the kind of night where a glass of water and caring students really made the difference. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

3 Questions We Ask to Gain Vision

Vision is a picture of what the future might look like. Without vision, the bible says, the people will perish. But how do you help a people begin to catch sight of that vision? 

On Saturday, February 28th, we hosted our 4th annual Vision Night and AGM. I was particularly struck by the quality of our discussion and how many students truly wanted to participate in helping set the direction of our ministry. 

Our vision is that we desire to be a family of disciples on mission with Jesus at UBC Okanagan. But in order to live this out, we need our community to see this vision and commit to taking steps to get us there. But how do we do this? 

The most effective way we do this is by providing a free pizza dinner. No, not really. Well, yes really. After all, free food is the love-language of students. But when the pizza is done, what we do is facilitate a discussion by looking in three directions. We succinctly remind them of our mission and then we ask the following three sets of questions:

(1) Looking Back
  • What successes did we have? 
  • How have we accomplished our mission this past year?
  • How have people become disciples this past year? 
This first discussion is usually pretty easy for people to have, so we facilitate it in an open-mic format with the large group. Just over 30 people were in attendance and almost everyone shared something. 
(2) Looking Around 
  • What opportunities are there right now?
  • What might God be calling us to move into next year?
  • Where is God already at work? 
  • What do you see?  
This second discussion is a bit more challenging, so we break people up into groups of 4-5 for a table discussion. One person records the main points. After 15-20 mins we encourage them to go on to the third set of questions. 

(3) Looking Ahead 

  • What needs to change
  • How do we need to adjust our current trajectory to be faithful to our calling? 
  • How can we be more effective at making disciples of Jesus? 
  • What do we need to do less of, in order to do more of something else? 
We find that question #2 leads into #3 and back and forth, so we keep them discussing in their table groups. After about 20 minutes we ask each table to report their highlights to the large group and we record the notes on a big white board. 
As you can see, we were not short of things to discuss. That's okay. Every voice matters. Everyone deserves to be heard. And that is a key value in this whole process. 

When we ended, I shared that what we need to do now is pray, filter, and discern. We leave our Vision Night allowing the Holy Spirit to bubble up to the top what matters most. We value the community voice, but we trust the Holy Spirit to work now on our hearts and minds to set the course needed from what we heard. Common themes emerged. Reinforcement of similar points occurred. And the job now is to gather our leadership and set goals in the right direction. 

Pray for our New Leadership Team 

At our Vision Night we also elected our new club executives. These students have committed to taking on key roles and responsibilities for the ministry and help us function as a student club on campus. 
  • Jane C. - President
  • Andrew B. - Vice President
  • Natasha P. - Treasurer
  • Karl P. - Executive-At-Large
  • Morgan J. - Executive-At-Large
  • Rachael P. - Executive-At-Large
  • Ellie H. - Executive-At-Large
Leadership Retreat - On March 20-22, we will take the new leadership team away on a retreat to Fairhaven Retreat Centre, about 45 mins out of town. There we will take time to build relationships, respond to the vision night discussion, and discern what roles and responsibilities each team member with take up, based on their gifting. Please pray for our time away.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Watch Emerge Recap (3 mins)

Click the image above for a 3 minute recap video of our Emerge Retreat weekend - made by our very own campus pastor at NIC, Jabin Postal. 

Emerge Retreat 2015

A bus-load of 48 students from UBCO joined our UCM province-wide retreat, in Hope, BC on Jan 16-18.  It was a wonderful time away. I especially enjoyed our times of student-led worship. I am so proud to see how God is raising up the next generation of leaders who truly want to give their hearts of worship to him.

Mark Buchanan, who was our speaker for the weekend, inspired us to "Be Still, Be Holy, and Be Dangerous”:
  • Be Still -  an invitation to reconsider the command to remember the Sabbath. Like 52 snow days a year, it is a gift! 
  • Be Holy - an encouragement to live our lives under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Holiness is the life of the Spirit of God totally set loose in us.
  • Be Dangerous - a challenge to not pray “make me safe”, but “make me dangerous!” The Christian community is not a private club, but we're meant to turn the world upside down!
It was an inspiring weekend! There was an incredible time of prayer ministry on Saturday night, as I saw students praying for their peers, strongholds being broken, and seeds of new hope being planted. 

All mountain top experiences come to an end. But our community came down that mountain with momentum. A spirit of expectancy has continued at our Sunday Night worship services on campus. Students have been coming ready to share a word, passage or testimony as we regularly make space for this aspect in our worship. We are seeing God speak into students lives and we are hearing testimonies of how Christ is rescuing them from the darkness. At times UCM can feel like a pub, a social gathering where people are finding belonging, but more and more we are seeing it also become a hospital, where students come as they are, wounded and broken, but are finding healing in Jesus.