Fall Retreat(s)

 —  October 8, 2009 — Leave a comment

Well, now is the time where many campus ministries and Christian college’s are putting together their fall retreat plans. I’m speaking at one this fall for George Fox University and I always enjoy these times. There’s a freshness in the ministry, excitement in the students, and a ton of potential in the people just getting involved. Those just plugging in could be freshmen, or junior transfer students…and hopefully some new believers. But these are key times for ministries to set the course for the rest of the year.

Note to church-based leaders: we can learn from campus ministries in this area (among a bunch of others). Instead of doing a winter trip, think about the possibility of doing a fall retreat while there is still a freshness in your ministry. Or, maybe do both. But sometimes, certainly not all, waiting until after the first of the year before something like this can cause a lack of “momentum” in your ministry. Having something in the fall can really help bond those in your ministry in the beginning of the year, helping focus the ministry for the remainder.

Note to campus ministry leaders: consider inviting a church-based ministry (or four) to join your trip. This could have some impact on the focus of the weekend, but connecting with a church-based ministry that you are in unity with can really be beneficial. In fact, I believe it’s beneficial for everyone involved. But the top benefit I see is two different ministries coming together for one purpose – reaching a campus. When campus and church ministry come together it can be very powerful.

If you’re a campus ministry leader, have you included church-based ministries in your fall retreat? Was it beneficial? What were some hindrances to your trip by doing so, and are there tweaks you made to improve in future years?

If you’re a church-based leader, have you tried a fall retreat before? Do you have a relationship with a campus leader that you could approach with the idea of joining forces for a fall retreat?

CollegeLeader Conference

 —  October 5, 2009 — Leave a comment

Today is going to be spent putting together final details for the CollegeLeader Conference coming up next week. I can’t believe it’s already here. Crazy. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can see all the info on workshops, etc. here. Also, if you don’t know, we do have a One-Day Pass for Friday. You can see the info on the schedule here. Here’s a short video of my heart for this time as well. Hope to see you there.

CollegeLeader Conference from Kristen Giesenschlag on Vimeo.

Need to laugh?

 —  October 2, 2009 — Leave a comment

This is something you don’t say in your own church, but we all feel it. Pretty funny.

Great Example!

 —  October 1, 2009 — Leave a comment

This here, my friends, is the perfect example of what it takes to lead people – especially college-age people.

10 Questions…

 —  October 1, 2009 — Leave a comment

I recently read a blog post by Sean McDowell titled, “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Professor About Intelligent Design.” It’s written to college students. I’d recommend reading it, possibly even using it as small group discussion at some level. It would take some work to put something together, for sure, but could be worthwhile. I’m not a “science person” at all, so for someone like me you’d need to boil it down and simplify the importance of these a bit. Sean is obviously much smarter than me. But if you have students in your ministry who are really engaging in the science field you might want to pass it along to them. Sean explains the importance of each of these questions in the blog post, but here are some of the questions:

  • If nature, or some aspect of it, is intelligently designed, how could we tell?
  • Should biologists be encouraged to look for signs of intelligence in biological systems? Why or why not?
  • Who determines the rules of science? Are these rules written in stone? Is it mandatory that scientific explanations only appeal to matter and energy operating by unbroken natural laws (a principle known as methodological naturalism)?
  • How do we account for the complex information-rich patterns in biological systems? What is the source of that information?
  • Do any structures in the cell resemble machines designed by humans? How do we account for such structures?
  • What are irreducibly complex systems? Do such systems exist in biology? If so, are those systems evidence for design? If not, why not?
  • The Earth seems ideally positioned in our galaxy for complex life to exist and for scientific discovery to advance. Does this privileged status of Earth indicate intelligent design? Why or why not?

Anyway, just thought I’d pass along the resource…

Book Review: Finding Organic Church

 —  September 30, 2009 — 8 Comments

Picture 3I recently read the book, Finding Organic Church by Frank Viola. The subtitle is: a comprehensive guide to starting and sustaining authentic Christian communities. I read the book because there’s been a fair amount of buzz about it from college-age people nationwide. I have heard of a sort of “rebellion” happening from people in this stage of life after reading this book.

If you’re leading a college ministry, I’d recommend reading it. My guess is this book will gain much more traction, especially with college-age people. I’ll explain more in a minute.

Things I liked: The book had a lot of really good insights into what biblical community can actually look like. And, it was practical for leaders seeking to implement community in their church/ministry. I can say that there were a lot of things I’ve been doing in my ministry for years and agree with. I think any leader can gain some insights for their immediate ministry – regardless of context – from reading this book. I can also say that I think Frank Viola (from what I can tell) loves Jesus, the Church, and is seeking to be faithful. I mean that.

But I’m also very concerned.

My Concerns: To be as blunt as I can here, this book is extremely dangerous. And, I think, it has the potential of causing damage in the body. This is all the more reason you ought to read it!!! Frank Viola’s conclusion is that there should be no long-term leadership or authority in the church. You can probably see why people could grab ahold of this and run, especially the college-age person who has been burned by a leader or has been in a ministry where the leader has abused the authority given. This book, unfortunately, is fuel on that fire. And I believe without biblical grounding.

Frank Viola of course uses a ton of Scripture to back his opinions. He bases his conclusion on a study of the patterns of the apostles – they started a church/community, then left it in the hands of the people there. One problem though: in this book he never addresses passages clearly speaking of spiritual authority in the church. He omits them and this is where the danger comes in. If you take a person who has been “burned” or experienced an abuse of authority in a church context – has a lack of biblical knowledge and only reads this book – they can be lead astray.

This book never addresses Paul’s apostolic instruction to Timothy or Titus to appoint elders in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-7 / Titus 1:5-16) or Peter’s instruction for the elders to “shepherd the flock of God among them” (1 peter 5:2), nor does he mention the role of deacon (1 Timothy 3:8-13). He also doesn’t address passages like Hebrews 13:17 where it speaks of us submitting to and obeying our leaders. What was most surprising to me was he doesn’t mention the apostle’s ongoing leadership in Acts 6 (a book he bases much of his conclusions from). The entire way through I kept waiting for his response to these passages. I was with him on so many things, but was left waiting on these.

There is more and more people feeling like the “American” way of doing church isn’t the biblical way. In some ways, of course, they are correct. We’re not perfect and over the last 45 years we’ve learned a lot. I’d recommend you reading the book so you know how to respond when/if someone in your church reads it.

CollegeLeader Insights

 —  September 29, 2009 — 1 Comment

When I was in LA I had the chance to sit down with some of my friends. One of those friends was Reggie Joiner. In case you don’t know who he is, here’s a few things that might ring a bell: co-author of Seven Practices for Effective Ministry, author of Think Orange, Catalyst Conferences, the founder of reThink, founder The Orange Conference, a guy who helped Andy Stanley start NorthPoint just outside Atlanta.

The more I get to know him I realize, beyond this STUFF that he loves God, loves his wife and family, and those around him (that live life with him daily) love him as well. This, to me, says all I need to know. You should also know that I think he is one of the top thinkers we have in the Church today. For sure. No doubts in my mind.

I have the privilege of currently writing a book with Reggie (along with another friend Abbie Smith) and I’m very excited to be processing through these issues with him. Anyway, I asked him to share ONE quick thought for those working in college ministry. He did. It’s very simple. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Why?

CollegeLeader Thoughts – Reggie Joiner from Kristen Giesenschlag on Vimeo.

Catch Up & Community

 —  September 28, 2009 — Leave a comment

This weekend I was in LA at NYWC. It was an encouraging weekend teaching, discussing college ministry with a bunch of people, hanging with friends, and listening to some good messages. I also took some video of a few friends while we were hanging out who shared some “words of wisdom” about college ministry. I’ll post some of those soon.

But, being true to my word, I wanted to write a very short bit about the show Community. The biggest insight into college-age people, I thought, came in the idea of being a part of a cause. Being a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s no secret that college-age people have zeal, but one thing many miss is their zeal to help the helpless.

This surpasses the recent awareness on social justice. This is an age-stage thing. Some might even say it’s a human thing. But what I can say for certain is it’s a college-age stage thing. Some of this is due to their place in life – or lack of “place” in life. They don’t have direction in life, but we all need direction and “a cause” to live for. Since many don’t know the “cause” for them as an individual yet, their zealous energy is funneled into a cause to help someone else.

Unfortunately when we get older we far too often lose this, focusing on ourselves.

As leaders we need to emphasize focusing on others as biblical and especially during the college-age years. It’s when we can help college-age people focus on a worthwhile cause today that keeps them from devoting their lives to worthless causes later.

I think the show, Community, had some insight into this. It was twisted in a relational mixed motivation plot, but that’s life (and television). The show highlighted this focus of being a part of a cause and I thought rightly so. I also think it’s good to process through for our ministries.

How do you help keep college-age people find meaning in eternal things? How do you help them focus their zeal on Christ-like causes?