Category Archives: Student and College Ministries

College Ministries Partnership with CCO Campus Ministry

 

In 2007, College Ministries entered into a partnership agreement with CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach). CCO is a unique campus ministry in that it grew out of a vision to partner with local churches to reach college students for Jesus Christ. They work with churches to reach students on a variety of campuses, from small private schools to large state universities and commuter campuses. They reach out to traditional 18- to 22-year-old students as well as to graduate students and nontraditional students, such as through their international student ministries. Currently CCO is partnering with churches in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington D.C. Several EPC churches are already partnering with CCO. The following is the first in a series of articles featuring these exciting partnerships.

How the CCO helps Memorial Park Church reach local college students: An interview with Lead Pastor, D. Dean Weaver

Memorial Park Church is an Evangelical Presbyterian Church located in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, a northern suburb of Pittsburgh. Memorial Park Church partners with the CCO to reach out to international students at nearby La Roche College. What follows is an interview with D. Dean Weaver, Memorial Park Church’s Lead Pastor.

Why does Memorial Park Church choose to partner with the CCO?

We love the CCO’s love for college students. We share the same desire to see transformation and value their highly relational approach. The CCO is the best fit for Memorial Park—in worldview and practice!

Why is Memorial Park Church committed to ministry to college students?

We are committed to ministry to college students because they are made in the image of God—and this may be the most strategic time in their lives to engage the whole person with the whole gospel.

What has been the benefit of having CCO staff member David Kuehl working with you and with students at La Roche College?

David and his family have become integrated into both the family of Memorial Park and the family of La Roche College, and that has helped to bridge the gap with our college neighbors. David has been a great ambassador for us at La Roche, and we love all the international students that hang out with him at MPC. It makes our community life richer!

Do congregation members participate in the ministry to international students? If yes, how? Of course, students and congregation members spend time together on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings around our worship services, as well as in our members’ homes over the holidays. But the thing I love is watching folks from MPC taking a student “under their wing” to review their resume, coach them on job interviewing, and work alongside them in outreach and mission projects. That is where the transformation occurs—on both sides!

Click here to learn more about Memorial Park Church, and click here to learn more about the CCO’s ministry at La Roche College.

Collision of Spiritual and Technological Trends among Millennials

 

Online Faith Practices, Fact-Checking Sermons and Digital Donations

Most would agree that today’s Millennials (18-29 year olds) are the most technologically savvy generation to date. We are also discovering that their faith experience and practice is also unique. So what happens when these two worlds collide?

For centuries the church has taught on practices such as prayer, Scripture reading, Sabbath observance, and gathering for Sunday worship. The daily practices of Millennials include social media, finding answers to questions by “Googling it,” scrolling thorough Facebook, Instagram and Twitter during leisure time, and texting conversations and information via smart phones. Are these ancient observances and contemporary practices mutually exclusive or potentially compatible at certain juncture points?

Some interesting ideas are explored by the Barna Group as a result of their latest study – What happens when the technological trends and spiritual characteristics collide? A few of these ideas can be helpful to churches as they consider ways to reach and engage Millennials. The study brought three ideas to the surface: Faith in Real Time, Fact Checking Sermons and Digital Donations.

“Faith in Real Time”

Millennials are digital natives; therefore, church leaders are safe to assume that this fact will overlap into their realm of faith. Here are just a few examples of their online faith practices:

  • Scripture – 70% of practicing Christian Millennials read Scripture on a screen. The use of YouVersion (a free Bible phone app) is an escalating trend and Biblegateway.com is one of the top Christian websites today. One-third of all Millennials read sacred Scripture online or on their phone.
  • Church Websites – 56% of practicing Christian Millennials use an online search to scope out a church – checking it out from a distance, as a prerequisite for committing to show up in person. One-third of all Millennials have searched for a church, temple or synagogue online.
  • Online Searches for Questions – 59% of practicing Christian Millennials search for spiritual content online. The search bar is as readily used by Millennials when they are curious about a restaurant, as it might be for issues of faith. This creates an interesting opportunity for churches, since 30% of all Millennials (including non-practicing Christians) take to the internet looking for spiritual content.
  • Online Videos – 54% of practicing Christian Millennials and 34% of all Millennials view videos pertaining to faith.

“Fact Checking Sermons”

Millennials view life as interactive. One way they make their faith interactive is by bringing their devices to church and making use of them. They forage in multiple digital places at any given time, including – texting, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterist, Wikipedia, news feeds and blogs. 38% of practicing Christian Millennials say they do not take teaching at face-value and will “fact-check” to verify the content of a faith leader’s talk. 14% of all Millennials indicate they have done the same.

“Digital Donations”

Millennials are generous with their money, but for the most part, the means they use is paperless. The generosity of young adults is significant when looking at giving opportunities such as the Passion 2013 conference, a four-day gathering of 60,000 university students in Atlanta. Attendees donated over $3 million to fund organizations and causes in the freedom fight for the 27 million human slaves around the world. 20% of practicing Christian Millennials indicate they text to donate at least once a month; 10% of all Millennials do likewise. This generation is on the go and digital donations are their preferred means of giving and when presented with a compelling reason, they give generously and often immediately.

Implications of Colliding Trends

Barna concludes their research with the following findings – Millennials desire radical transparency and tend to “exhibit institutional distrust” giving them an “heightened sensitivity for artificiality and false promotion;” they “desire relevant, two-way communication on a wide-range of topics,” and there are numerous opportunities to engage Millennials online with content and in discussion, including those who have left the church.

Note: This article is a summation of the following story: How Technology is Changing Millennial Faith. For more information and graphics, see the reviewed article at https://www.barna.org/barna-update/millennials/640-how-technology-is-changing-millennial-fait

One Formula for Reaching Millennials: Five Adult Fans

 

For years, many in youth ministry talked about the one to-five ratio of adults-to-students as the optimal goal for everything from retreats to small groups.  Leaders worked hard to build a volunteer youth ministry team that reflected the 1 to 5 ratio.

Today, the world has changed. There are new cultural realities, students experience more brokenness, and many Millennials have unresolved doubts or questions concerning the faith of their parents.

Several years ago Chap Clark, author of Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers, suggested a different approach to address these changes.  He went on to say that “We need to change the definition of youth ministry from just helping kids to grow in their faith to helping them become fully developed believers in Christ in the community of the Church.”  Clark, along with other leaders in youth and parent ministry, like Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, essentially turn the 1:5 ratio on its head.

“What if we flipped that ratio upside down? What if we said we need five adults pouring into one kid?”  Kara Powell, author of Sticky Faith.

According to Clark, “Every kid needs five adult fans. Any young person who shows any interest in Christ needs a minimum of five people of various ages who will say, ‘I’m going to love that kid until they are fully walking as an adult member of this congregation.’”

Now the obvious reaction of leaders is going to be, “I’m having a hard enough time recruiting one small group leader for five kids, and now you want me to round up five leaders for every single kid?” Kara Powell, author of Sticky Faith.  But the good news is these adults are not all youth leaders.

Relationship is the key element.  Among twentysomethings who remain active in their faith beyond high school 59% report having a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church, according to a Barna study.  Furthermore, 28% of Millennials who stayed active had an adult mentor at church, other than their pastor.

Churches can really get creative in this 5:1 approach, including the involvement of a variety of adult mentors:  youth leader, small group leader, career mentors, mentors in their hobby, recent college grads, married couples, senior citizens, and prayer partners.  This approach has the potential to bless the young adults, mentors and the congregation as a whole.

Nomads, Prodigals and Exiles in our Midst

 

Taking a Closer Look at Once Church-Going Millennial

Thankfully many young adults have a growing faith and a strong connection with their church.  However, there is a growing trend that many of us have observed and recent polls by Gallop, UC-Berkley and Duke University and Barna confirm:  a growing number of Millennials (age 18-29 years old) who once attended church are either claiming no religious affiliation, dropping out of regular church attendance or are attending less regularly.

Who are these young adults in our midst and how do we best care for them, as they struggle with their faith and consequently their relationship to the church?  One way is to gain a bit more insight into the various paths these young adults took to arrive at the point where their faith and/or church are no longer a priority.

Author, David Kinnaman, in his book You Lost Me,  considered the answers given by these once church-going Millennials and deduced that they generally travelled along one of three spiritual journeys.  The three travelers are – nomads, prodigals and exiles.

Nomads – Consider themselves Christians, but have trouble identifying with a church or a particular “brand” of Christianity.  They “love Jesus, but not the church;” they appear to be wanderers, but claim they retain their faith.

Prodigals – Have lost their faith and are fairly certain they will never return to the Christian faith. They often express having some kind of intellectual change or emotional injury, leading to their long-term dismissal of the Christian faith.

Exiles – They chose to remain in the institutional church; however, they have a tough time finding a place in the church setting.  They struggle to find a way to connect their everyday life with their faith and the church.

Think about the young adults in your life who you haven’t seen at church for a while.  What path may have led them to drift away from the church?  Do you think they might be a Nomad, Prodigal or Exile?

If you have someone in mind, instead of an invitation to a church event, meet them for coffee sometime soon.  Consider asking a few open ended questions concerning:  their faith, Jesus, the church, intellectual concerns, emotional injuries, or connecting faith with their passions, career and relationships.  This journey will likely take more than one cup of coffee or one visit to the coffee house.  In following the call to “Go into all the World” we may end up venturing into the world of Nomads, Prodigals and Exiles.

Getting-To-Know Student and College Ministries Leaders

 

The Student and College Ministries Committee would like to connect with ministry leaders from every EPC church.  Members join the committee with a sincere desire to serve those who are called by God to reach and disciple the next generation.  We’ve created two surveys, just to get the conversation started with leaders (staff, volunteer, full-time and part-time).

The first is short and sweet – Just a Get-to-Know you and your ministry survey.  Please take a few minutes to introduce yourself to our committee members at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GetToKnowSCMLdrs.

Your thoughts and ideas are the driving force behind the direction the committee will take in the future.  Therefore, we’d like to dig a little deeper and hear your perspective on the important issue of how to effectively disciple the next generation of young adults, in the midst of the significant challenges they face.  If you have a few more minutes, please let us know your thoughts at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SCMSurvey2013.

Thank you for your time; your input is essential and greatly appreciated.

SURVEY: How Do We Foster Sustainable Faith in Young Adults

 

Take part in the survey by June 2013 at www.surveymonkey.com/s/SCMSurvey2013.

Most of us in ministry have heard the statistics and read the articles. The stats vary, but the numbers are still notable, anywhere from 60-75% of Christian young people leave the church after high school.

In his book Revolution (2007), George Barna, indicated that if current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today. According to pollsters, for the generation now coming of age, they believe it’s more than the usual “driver’s license to marriage license” joy ride.

Barna Research president David Kinnaman, after a five-year-study, determined that most church leaders are unequipped to deal with this “new normal.” According to Kinnaman, the two most common responses are: ignoring the situation, hoping young adults will return when they are older and have children or building the church on the preference of young people, excluding older members. Both responses miss the mark.

So the question becomes, as church leaders, how do we beat the odds? What is God revealing to His churches in the EPC?

The Student & College Ministries Committee is asking EPC church leaders to take a survey entitled, How Do We Foster Sustainable Faith in Young Adults? We believe that there is great merit in sharing our ideas, as God reveals His plan for our young people in our individual churches and in the EPC.

Your input is vital! We hope to accumulate the thoughts and ideas of pastors, ruling elders, parents, youth leaders, college ministry leaders, volunteers, staff and anyone concerned about young people. Please take the time to share your thoughts in the survey here, www.surveymonkey.com/s/SCMSurvey2013 by August 30, 2013.

Youth Adult Same-Sex Attraction: Resources For Presenting A Biblical Perspective In A Culture Of Tolerance

 

The pressure on youth and young adults today to conform to a distorted message on sex is nothing short of overwhelming. Our culture, media, internet and peer influence all contribute daily to this distortion. Teens and young adults in the church are becoming ensnared in sexual struggles and sin at virtually identical numbers as those outside of the church.

Unfortunately, many youth groups and college/young adult ministries are largely silent on this issue. Meanwhile, many are swept away from faith and church in the wake of unbiblical influences. Ministry leaders, parents and volunteer leaders often don’t know what to say. And students who want to follow Jesus and God’s design for sexuality are increasingly confused by misinformation and distortions.

Student and College Ministries seeks to enter this conversation, equip leaders/parents and provide resources to those who love a generation bombarded by the message that any form of sexual expression is acceptable.

In our search for reliable resources Student and College Ministries came across Harvest USA ministry. They are making an impact by coming alongside the local church. Harvest began as an outreach ministry to the homosexual community located near their PCA church. Today it serves numerous churches by equipping and resourcing people to step into the lives of individuals and families affected by all kinds of sexual struggles.

Some of the resources available through Harvest USA include:

  • Seminars and workshops for youth leaders, youth and/or parents
  • Harvest News – God Gives the Best Sex: A Positive Theology of Sex & Sexuality
  • Books and Sunday School series

The Harvest book series entitle “Proclaiming the Truth & Mercy” is an excellent place to start. Each book in the series is a compilation of chapters authored by different individuals writing from their personal experiences. Harvest will be adding to the series in the coming months. The series covers the following topics:

Book One – The Homosexual Debate and the Church. This book provides insights into the controversy surrounding gay-theology and cultural issues.

Book Two – First Steps of Compassion. A great book for anyone coming alongside those who struggle with same sex attraction. The book includes a section on ways to afford comfort to hurting parents.

Book Three – Gay…Such Were Some of Us. A compilation of personal stories where lives were transformed and changed.

Another excellent resource is the EPC Position Paper on Homosexuality which addresses the issue from a biblical perspective. Student Ministries welcomes additional resource suggestions, please contact Susan Holland at susan.holland@epc.org with your ideas, comments or questions.

See below for links to suggested resources.

Helpful Links:

  1. Seminars and workshops –
    http://www.harvestusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=357&Itemid=50
  2. Harvest News – God Gives the Best Sex: A Positive Theology of Sex & Sexuality http://www.harvestusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=158:god-gives-the-best-sex&catid=48:questions-you-ask&Itemid=57%20
  3. Books and Sunday School series – http://www.harvestusa.org/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=13&Itemid=39
  4. Proclaiming the Truth & Mercy Series – http://www.harvestusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=373&Itemid=59&limitstart=1%20

Student Ministries: Online Book Study – Starting May 1, 2013

 
  • Student and College Ministry Youth Workers will be reading 2 books by Mark Oestreicher, Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are and Where We Need to Go and A Beautiful Mess: What’s Right About Youth Ministry.
  • Discuss the history of youth ministry and the three significant shifts in youth culture. Having laid this foundation. consider the realities and needs of today’s teens. Then, explore creative and effective ways to minister to students moving forward, including how to apply these ideas to your particular ministry.
  • It is exciting that Marko, the author, has offered to join the study – so come ready to get his input and insights about his books and your ministry!!
  • Marko was at Youth Specialties in San Diego, an organization that trains and equips church youth workers, for 11 years, 8 years as president. He grew up as an EPC kid, at Ward EPC in the Detroit, MI area. Marko has a long-standing affection and appreciation for the EPC, and is very excited about connecting with EPC youth workers in this book study.
  • The reading assignments are fairly short (about 20-30 pages per week), so everyone can focus on discussion, getting input from Marko and sharing ideas. It is known that many of you have summer trips to plan, so no worries, that is taken into consideration.
  • If you’ve already read the book(s), join everyone for the discussion and practical application.
  • The study begins on May 1st and last 6 weeks; however, you may join the online group anytime and work at your own pace.
  • The cost is FREE – you just need to purchase or borrow the books.
  • Jump on the EPC Community site to check out more details, meet other EPC Youth Leaders and get some quality continuing education in the comfort of your favorite lounge chair.

Here’s how to Join the Online Study:

  1. Go to www.epc.socialgo.comand – become a Member of EPC Community
  2. Click on “Not a Member? Sign up Now”
  3. When prompted for an Access Code use: EPC1981
  4. Complete Registration Page by filling in your personal information
  5. When completed click on “Sign Up” link
  6. A confirmation email will be sent to you – Click the link, you will be logged in.
  7. Go to the Group link and Join our YOUTH MINISTRY 3.0 BOOK STUDY group
    (Note: Click on the New Groups link to easily find our Group).

For More Information: Please contact Susan Holland, Student and College Ministries Coordinator, at Susan.Holland@EPC.org%20or (734) 838‐6952.

Invitation to Join Student and College Ministries Online

 

Student and College Ministries would like to extend an invitation to all EPC youth workers and college ministry leaders to join one or more of our online networks. Many of you already participate, but perhaps there are additional networks that could also benefit your ministry. Welcome to those of you who are new to the EPC – we are excited to connect with you and find out more about your ministry.

Anyone interested in reaching the next generation for Christ is welcome – full-time, part-time, staff, volunteers, interns, pastors, parents and elders alike. Our goals are to connect EPC ministry leaders, encourage one another, exchange ideas and share resources.

Youth Leader Cohort: A Testimony of its Tremendous Impact on an EPC Youth Leader

 

The powerful testimony of Mikey Pitts, Director of Middle School Ministries at Bay Presbyterian Church (Bay Village, OH) was one of the factors that convinced EPC Student Ministries of the importance of this new “Coaching in Community” approach for the long term fruitfulness of youth ministries in our churches and the retention of solid leaders.

Overall Impression:
“I have been significantly blessed, empowered, and encouraged in all areas through my participation Had it not been for my involvement in this cohort I was on a fast track for burnout and discontentment making me just another statistic.”

What was your ministry experience, including why you joined the Cohort initially?

I have been serving 5 years at Bay Presbyterian Church in Bay Village, OH. We’re a congregation of about 2,200 and we recently joined the EPC.

In 2003, I purchased my first youth ministry resource, which was a book of talk outlines by Mark Oestreicher. Marko’s book saved my hide that first year of youth.

I initially joined the cohort because it was a chance to study youth ministry under Marko. I was also at a pivotal place in ministry where my wife and I were praying through if it was time to put the resume out there. To my surprise my proposal to attend the Cohort was approved and financed by our congregation. My wife and I really felt like it was God giving us a second wind at BPC.

What have you learned about yourself and ministry in the Cohort?

Marko is all about healthy personal development both spiritually and emotionally. I have learned a lot about myself that frankly, I would have had a hard time receiving in other environments. These issues and insecurities were creating problems in my ministry and with my church staff relationships. These same problems are what cause us (youth workers) to jump from church to church.

Marko emphasizes values based ministry in a world that revolves around an attractional shallow youth ministry. I learned that I had been trying to keep up with the Joneses, and had been designing a ministry for a community, culture, and set of students I didn’t have. So for the past several months, and Marko’s encouragement, I as well as my other cohorts have taken up ministry values discernment teams. It’s amazing how God is honoring and speaking into our direction and how it is lining up with our churches values.

How has the Cohort helped you grow personally and professionally?

Personally, I am more self-aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I can honestly say that this cohort has strengthened my marriage as I have learned the gift of presence and listening.

Professionally, I am more self-aware of my strengths and my weaknesses. I am beginning to lead from my values that are translating into significant ministerial health and growth. These days I am less attracted to the hype and pop of flashy student ministries that trap so many youth workers.

My Senior Pastor told me that he wished he had learned what
I am learning when he was my age.

How has your participation in the Cohort affected/benefitted your youth?

I have been exploring teaching techniques and styles that are developmentally appropriate for 5-8th grade students. My students come back remembering the faith concept/story piece we discussed the week before.

We spent some significant time discussing context culture; Every event, environment, ministry night of the week, and/or time frame now accent the flow of our community.

One of the big problems in ministry is knowing when and how to introduce change both personally and professionally. I now take time to really figure out how to walk my leaders and parents through the significant program changes.

Lastly, I have learned how to relinquish my perfectionist control of the ministry. Now we are seeing what God is doing and not how well I can plan and coordinate.

What are your final thoughts?

In closing, the thing that still blows me away to this day is how accessible Marko is to us. He genuinely cares for us as individuals and the ministries that we lead. The other youth workers in my cohort have become family and will be lifelong kingdom partners.

I think the EPC would see significant fruit in its churches if youth workers got the chance to experience the personal growth of a Coaching Program Cohort.

Click here to read the full interview with Mikey.

For More Information:
Please contact Susan Holland, Student and College Ministries Coordinator, at
Susan.Holland@EPC.org or (734) 838‐6952 by our early-bird date of February 7,th, 2013.

Making an inquiry or signing up by the early bird date will allow you to participate in the decision-making process concerning the timing and locations of the 6 meetings, during this one-year program.

For more details regarding the EPC Youth Leader Cohorts, please go to the following webpage: http://www.epc.org/youth-leaders-cohort/.

Urbana 12: Intervarsity’s Student Missions Conference

 

St. Louis, Missouri (December 27-31, 2012)
http://urbana.org/urbana-12

Urbana is a mission’s conference with a compelling message to this generation to “give their whole lives for God’s global mission.”

Urbana 12 is fast approaching and College Ministries is excited to already have 15 Scholarship Applications from EPC college students and young adults with a heart for missions, hoping to attend the conference this December. We also have over 100 students and young adults, from EPC churches, registered to attend the EPC World Outreach missions luncheon at Urbana.

Urbana Scholarships are based on financial need and affiliation with an EPC church.  The deadline for applications is December 15 and we anticipate that we will receive several more requests from applicants for the $100 scholarships before that time.

College Ministries hopes to assist EVERY approved applicant, needing financial assistance to attend Urbana 12.  Additional donatins from churches and individuals are immediately needed, in order to meet this goal.

If you or your church are able to contribute towards the Urbana Scholarship Fund please:
1) Go to http://www.epc.org/giving/;
2) Click the “Donate Today” button;
3) Select “Student and College Ministries”; and
4) Select “Urbana Scholarships.”

If you know of a college student or young adult (aged 17-29) with a heart for missions, direct them to our webpage for more information.

EPC World Outreach at Urbana12!

Free Lunch: So far over 100 students and young adults, from EPC churches, have registered to attend the free EPC World Outreach missions luncheon on Saturday, December 29th.  Please contact Alison Gill at alison.gill@epc.org or call 734-838-6945 to register for the free lunch or to ask for more information.

Exhibit Hall: World Outreach will also be present at the conference in the Exhibit Hall where mission organizations from all over the world will be showcasing various opportunities.  WO staff will be available to connect with students, young adults and youth leaders about opportunities within the EPC.

Urbana 12

 

Intervarsity’s Student Missions Conference,
St. Louis, Missouri (December 27-31, 2012)

The stated goal of the 2012 Urbana Conference is to “compel this generation to give their whole lives for God’s global mission.”  Many generations of today’s missionaries and church leaders point to their time at Urbana as pivotal in their decision to serve in full or part-time ministry.

Urbana is only held every three years and the excitement is building for Urbana 2012.  At the last Urbana (2009), the EPC was blessed to have about 120 college-aged and young adults in attendance.

College Ministries (CM) and World Outreach (WO) are working together to spread the word to our young adults (age 17-29) by reaching out to every EPC church and it’s leaders to encourage them to connect with college students, those home and away at school, and other young adults in their congregations.

While at Urbana, young adults will find unique opportunities to discern how God may be leading them, connect with others asking the same question, hear challenging calls to action, and speak with some of the hundreds of attending missionaries.  WO is sending a team to Urbana and will host a special meal for EPC college students and young adults to connect and find out more about WO missions opportunities and Engage 2025.

Furthermore, we have set up a fund allowing us to scholarship several students who need some financial assistance in order to attend.  We are also looking for donors to assist EPC students attend this potentially life-changing event.