New Year, New Vision

Anna Marie Magyar Advisors & Student Leaders, Event Ideas, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning, Resources 0 Comments

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19

Hello, friend! I hope this blog finds you well and with a great big cup of coffee! I would be dishonest if I did not share with you that as I write this it is currently 8:00 at night, and I am enjoying the most delicious vanilla sweet cream cold brew!

As a sixth grade teacher and a volunteer serving in college ministry, the summer presents itself as an invaluable time. I am intentional to rest and recuperate, but also in preparation for the new school year. I begin to pray and ask the Lord what new and exciting things He will do. I celebrate as I recall His marvelous works the year prior, and recount the ways He provided, opened doors I thought were sealed shut, and gave us opportunities I could not have asked nor dreamt of.

I also bring to the Lord the areas I may need wisdom in, situations I felt were challenging, and things I feel we need to do differently or completely get rid of. Without failure, the Lord meets me in this time of dreaming and visioning for the new year. I am filled with a new hope, new excitement and joy, and a new vision for how we can show the unconditional and unimaginable love of our God to our campus.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” -James 1:5

As the topic for this blog began brewing in my mind, I was reminded of James 1:5. For so many of us, we expect the same from the Lord that we have received or encountered with people. Circumstances with influential people in our lives begin to influence the lens through which we see our Heavenly Father. It becomes easy, even natural, to question if we deserve what we seek from the Lord, or if Jesus is truly faithful to give as generously and freely as He has promised.

It is for this reason I am so thankful for the Word, and the wisdom James received and shared. The Lord is faithful to give to you generously and without finding fault; not because He gains anything, but because He made you, He loves you, and He is pleased with you. If you question this, I challenge you to put it into practice. Seek the Lord, be open to Him doing a new thing, and watch as He amazes you with His faithfulness.

I am so excited for the new things the Lord will do this year. I am seeking Him as I embark on the new challenge at my job in doing math centers to improve learning opportunities for my students. Excitement fills me as the leaders and advisers of Saint Rose BASIC begin a whole new structure to our weekly meeting schedule (read on below if you are interested to see what this format will be). And I am filled with joy and wonder in the new thing the Lord has for you!

My friend, I want to encourage you that there is new vision for your future, your family and your life. The Lord promises to do a new thing, and I believe that is possible for you regardless of your season of life. I pray you seek His face diligently knowing that although change may seem difficult at times, you have a God who is so passionate about you that He would never leave you nor forsake you in the midst of these changes (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5).

Saint Rose Basic Meeting Schedule: Fall 2017

Starting in the fall, we will run our meetings in a four week rotation, as follows:

Week 1: Meeting will include a worship set of three songs and a message from an in-house speaker, like our advisor. A student leader will be asked to take notes on the message to share a summary of at the next week’s meeting.

Week 2: We will have worship, most likely a shorter set to account for time, and then the student leader who took notes the week prior will come up to briefly share a summary of week one’s message. This is done so that anyone who missed the week prior will not be left out of the small group discussions we will be transitioning to after the summary. Small groups will be led by student leaders who will have focus questions that will build off the week prior. We will end our meeting with a social activity of some kind.

Week 3: During this week, we will have a typical worship set of three songs, and a guest speaker. The plan is to get guest speakers from our sponsor church to help our students get even more connected.

Week 4: On the final week, we plan to have a fun get-together. We chose to incorporate this into our meeting schedule for several reasons. Firstly, many of our members already plan to attend the BASIC meetings Thursday nights. Trying to plan an event on another evening often loses several people who can’t come because of classes or other commitments. Additionally, our leaders work so hard and pour so much of themselves into the bi-weekly leaders meetings, weekly BASIC meetings, getting together with students, and their own personal to-do lists and responsibilities. Oftentimes planning additional events on top of this can be too much for our leaders. We’re making this change to avoid burnout in our leaders, and to prevent what is supposed to be a good thing becoming a burden upon them.

Words cannot express how excited I am with the changes we are making! I hope to update you on the progress of this shift in the future. 

About the Author

Anna Marie Magyar

Facebook

Wife. Cat mom. Lover of Jesus, coffee, and all things Disney. I was a student leader in my BASIC group at the College of St. Rose and have continued to help out with the group after graduating.

Ministry outreach ideas

Optimum Outreach

Sam DiStefano Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Planning, Resources 0 Comments

Whether you have been an advisor or student leader for ages or you have just started, it is always helpful to get new ideas to spark creativity and bring fresh momentum to your ministry. Ultimately, you and your students know your campus best. Take a look at this list of outreach ideas and think of ways your group can adapt it or make it better for your school!

Our heart is to see students encountering and being forever changed by Jesus. You are the hope to your school and I believe God is going to use you to make a difference!

Hold a Campus Blitz

If you are finding a lull in attendance or that students just don’t know your group exists, consider doing a Campus Blitz. You can contact the BASIC office if you would like staff to come and do a focused time of outreach and advertising for your school.

If the staff can’t come, there is no reason you can’t put on one yourself! Get your team together and plan to do a two day event where all hands are on deck. Set up a table in a highly trafficked area, play music (if you can), hand out candy, play games, and most importantly invite people to your meeting!

Have other students handing out info cards throughout campus on this day. You can chalk, paint, set up flyers, make announcements, write on whiteboards, do whatever you can to get the word out about your group! It works best to do this the day before and the day of your meeting.

That night have pizza or snacks, a sign up sheet, and a clear gospel presentation. It is a surefire way to stir up interest and attention for your group, as well as get new people involved and invested!

Organize Major Events

Though this takes effort, pulling off a major event well speaks volumes about your group to your campus. To regularly attract students, consider doing a major event at least once a semester. Here are a few suggestions:

-Bonfire

-BBQ/Pizza Party/Taco Tuesday

-Ice Cream Social

-Hot Dog/Hot Chocolate/Lemonade Giveaway

-Coffeehouse Open Mic Night

-Evangelistic Concert (Check out Circuit Riders)

-Kickball/Volleyball Game

-Campus Wide Capture the Flag

-Campus Wide Scavenger Hunt

-Operation Christmas Child

-Host a Movie Night

-Host a Food Tour Around Local Coffee & Food Stops

-Host a Debate

-Partner with Another Ministry (Guitars for Glory, Ugandan Water Project, etc.)

Holiday & Everyday Hand Outs

College students love free stuff and free food. Think about ways you can work this into your group’s budget. There are many excuses to give out some encouragement and love. Christmas and the candy cane opportunity may have passed, but there are still plenty more.

Consider handing out Valentine’s with scripture on them, or candy with encouragement. Earth day and Easter also present themselves as opportunities. Every year finals come around and giving out granola bars or water bottles with a smile can really be the bright spot in someone’s day.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. Feel free to comment or share any events or outreach ideas that you have seen to be successful! You are making a difference on your campus AND having fun! Keep pressing in and watch what God can do!

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

Twitter

Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Top 10 Posts Of 2016

Top 10 Posts Of 2016

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning, Resources, Social Media, Technology 0 Comments

With a new year right around the corner we like to take a look back at the top posts from this year. We appreciate you taking the time to read the blog this year. We know that there are plenty of resources available to leaders and we’re honored that you have chosen us. Our goal is to empower you to take your ministry to the next level and we hope that what our team shares has helped you do that.

Before we close out 2016 here’s a look back at the top 10 posts from this past year determined by how many times they were viewed.

  1. Fun Idea For Meetings: Interactive Trivia Games

    This idea incorporates a fun trivia game that anyone can set up and run for free. You could have it be a fun activity leading up to your meeting or as a way to break up the night.

  2. Why Everyone Should Pray To Be Baptized In The Holy Spirit

    There’s a lot of different perspectives on the third member of the Trinity and His role today. This post breaks down misconceptions about the Holy Spirit and explains why having Him in our lives is so important.

  3. Intentional Leadership Education & Training

    This was a guest post from Ryan Raflowski, a leader at the SUNY Oswego BASIC group. He shares about a workshop series they put together to communicate more intentionally with their group leading up to the election of student leaders.

  4. Rejoice In The Middle

    In life, we can allow ourselves to be disappointed with the process of becoming. Sometimes we need help to refocus our gaze from the struggle and circumstances we are in to the greatness and faithfulness of Him who called us.

  5. 16 Inspirational Quotes for 2016

    This post is exactly as advertised – 16 quick quotes that we gave you to kick off 2016. If you keep an eye out you might pick up on a theme next week.

  6. How Anyone Can Do Great Graphic Design For Free

    Great graphic design is hard to come by and often costs a lot of money. But it doesn’t have to. Here are some free resources that can take the headache and hassle out of designing something for your ministry.

  7. Authenticity In The Age Of Duplicity

    Students have been taught to question everything and they do. In this ever changing time, students long for some stability and authenticity. Let’s lead them to the most authentic love they will ever encounter.

  8. The Why Behind What We Do

    This short post from Sam DiStefano is a great reminder of the effect campus ministry has had on history and why it’s so important.

  9. 3 Practical Ways To Activate Your Prayer Life

    Prayer is something we all know we should do more of, but often it gets overlooked. Most of us have a desire to pray more, but saying it and actually doing it are two different things. Here are some practical ways to increase your prayer life.

  10. How To Be A Leader Amal Zeidan shares about how the secular leadership principles from the book The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership have a Biblical foundation that can also apply to those leading in a Christian context.

So, those are the top 10 posts from 2016 all collected in one place so you can easily catch up on anything you missed. Thanks for reading and have a happy New Year!

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Telling Your Story

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Personal Development 0 Comments

I love stories. One of my favorite questions to ask a new friend is, “What is your story?” We all have a story to tell and our stories are powerful. They are proof that we have existed, conquered, stumbled and survived. Eugene Peterson once wrote,

“ The reason that story is so basic to us is that life itself has a narrative shape – a beginning and an end, plot and characters, conflict and resolution. Life isn’t an accumulation of abstractions such as love and truth, sin and salvation, atonement and holiness; life is the realization of details that all connect organically, personally, and specifically.”

We all can identify with and enjoy a good story.

This is how Jesus operated as well. While there are MANY examples of transformational stories in the Bible, John 4 recounts the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Her experience with Jesus left her changed, so much so that she ran immediately back to town to tell everyone. She was not embarrassed by her story, she told them honestly, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.” Jesus had called her out on her junk but she was no longer ashamed. In verse 39 it says, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” One woman’s story about her encounter with Jesus impacted an entire town!

Why is it then, that so many students struggle with telling their own story? Why, when asked to tell their testimony, do many students hang their head low and explain they don’t really have one? Why are some students embarrassed to be real about their struggle? I believe we need to empower students to share in a way that is different than we have in the past.

You all know what I mean. In an effort to make sharing practical and simple, we have boiled it down to three main questions: What were you like before Christ? How did you meet Christ? What is your life like after receiving Christ? While this is a good basic outline, some students don’t fit in that neat little box. It’s a good story, but not the only one. For some people their journey was long and gradual, for others they knew the Lord once, ran away a time or two and have made their way back. If we teach students this is the only way to tell their story, it might keep them from wanting to tell their story at all.

Instead of a script to follow, encourage your students to reflect on the times they were transformed by an encounter with Jesus. This doesn’t always have to be a conversion story, it can be a time when Jesus dealt with pride, lust, or un-forgiveness in their heart. When we live this life with God, there will be many moments in our journey where we are changed, gain better understanding and mature. Every trial or circumstance that they have walked through is an opportunity to share about the goodness of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

In Revelation 12, when Christ comes again the scripture says the enemy was defeated “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” We have to encourage students that their testimony is one of the singular most powerful tools they have for sharing the gospel. In our society and culture today, people are more often drawn to a compelling story than a logical breakdown of facts. People just can’t argue with your own personal experience.

Rich Richardson, author of ReImagining Evangelism, wrote, “ Your transformation stories are your greatest personal asset for sharing your faith. If you have any tales of transformation, you can be a great witness to the love and power of God.” Helping students to tell their story is important and incredibly powerful.

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

Twitter

Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Go The Extra Mile

Go The Extra Mile

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning 0 Comments

We’ve all heard the phrase “go the extra mile,” but did you know it comes from the Bible? It actually comes from the most famous sermon in the Bible when Jesus is preaching His sermon on the mount. In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about how to treat our enemies or anyone who wrongs us and then He goes on to say this:

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.Matthew 5:41

That’s a powerful statement. Especially considering that He says this in the context of how we approach those who disagree with us or want to do us harm. It’s something good to remember with the current cultural context we live in, but I think there’s another application we can take from this that applies specifically to campus ministry.

When students come to campus they are bombarded by activities, events and opportunities. There’s so much available to them that it can be hard to get their attention. Every day people pass each other in the hallway and miss opportunities to form new friendships. Students might stop by your table and then never visit a meeting. They may check out your meeting one week and then you never see them again.

How many people would come to your meetings if students started getting intentional about forming relationships? Wouldn’t it be great if you could get people to do more than just stop by or visit once? How much would your group change if every person who came to your ministry came back? Now, to get a 100% return rate is unrealistic, but I believe that if you implement the principle of going the extra mile you’ll be surprised by the growth you see.

Let me explain a little more what I mean by going the extra mile. I’m talking about doing something so nice and unexpected that it makes a lasting impression. Sometimes it’s about putting on a big event and other times it’s about meeting a need. It could be a big or small gesture, as long as it’s memorable. This is the wow factor that makes your table stand out at the club fair or makes reputation of your meetings spread all over campus.

For example, years ago we helped the Binghamton BASIC group table at their college’s club fair. The leaders had ordered collapsible water bottles with the BASIC logo printed on them to hand out for free. They were very cheap and the idea didn’t take much to implement, but they stood out from what everyone else was doing. This small concept generated a lot of buzz and students kept coming to the table to hear about BASIC all because they had heard about these water bottles.

To meet a need and form relationships you could organize and advertise free tutoring with students from your group providing the instruction in subjects they are strong in. 

If you’re looking to do something more unexpected you could implement the idea my friend came up with for his youth group. Every time a new person visits they have them write down a Chipotle order and then they buy it for them if they come to the group the following week. If you’re like me, nothing beats a free burrito and that’s something I wouldn’t be expecting when I visit a club for the first time.

On a bigger scale, you could plan an event that really stands out and gets attention on campus. A number of years back I suggested this Love is coming. Love is here. event that I think would be amazing to put on around Valentine’s Day. 

That’s just a few ideas to get you thinking, but you get the picture. It’s not so much about using one of my specific ideas as it is about looking for ways to go the extra mile in a way that leaves a lasting impression and makes someone feel welcomed and cared for.

So, what are some ways you could implement that concept as you plan for the spring semester? How could you do this personally as you interact with people during the Christmas season and beyond? How can you go the extra mile?

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Reaching your campus context

Reaching Your Campus Context

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Leadership, Planning 0 Comments

When I began working with BASIC in 2009, my wife and I were tasked with starting a college ministry at SUNY Geneseo and Monroe Community College (MCC). These two colleges couldn’t be more different. SUNY Geneseo is set among corn fields in a small rural town, while MCC is positioned on the south side of Rochester and boasts an enrollment twice the size of the entire city of Geneseo.

It didn’t take us long to figure out that what worked on one of those campuses didn’t always work on the other. The apostle Paul gave us an incredible strategy for evangelism when he wrote to the Corinthian church saying,

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

Paul realized the importance of studying your current context and tailoring your message in a way that will reach that context. Missionaries do the same thing when they go to a new country. They must learn the culture and the people; the tribe they want to reach. Since your college campus is a mission field, and knowing that campuses can vary widely from one to another, how can you best reach your campus context? Let’s look at it in three steps.

Experience Your “Tribe”

Observation is the first step in determining your campus context. Walk around campus to see where students are hanging out. Eat meals with students on campus and spend time in the dorms. Go to athletic events. Work out with students at the campus gym and attend events at the college. Observing the culture firsthand is always the best way to pick up on what’s going on and what the student body is like.

Learn Your “Tribe”

As you spend time with students on campus start asking questions that will help you learn more about them. Here’s a bunch of good questions to get you started:

  • How many students live in dorms/commute?
  • What are the most common majors?
  • What are the most popular activities/events with students?
  • Do students spend a lot of time studying?
  • What groups are the most influential on campus?
  • What is the overarching perspective of Christianity on the campus?
  • What percentage of each ethnicity is represented?
  • How many international students are there?
  • What are the biggest struggles people deal with (ask counseling services)?
  • What are other clubs/ministries doing on your campus that are successful and what can you learn from them?

If possible, you could also go on the freshman or incoming students tour to learn more about the campus. You can also put together brief surveys to do among students that will help you gather information so you can better serve the campus.

Reach Your “Tribe”

This is when you take what you’ve learned and apply it. Look at the current context of your group and what you’ve learned about your campus context to decide how to plan events/activities and advertising that will reach that context.

For example, when I was at Oswego I came across an event put on by the Black Student Union called Casino Night. The place was packed and people were having a great time. I happened to walk through a couple hours later and not only was the event still going, but many of the same people were there.

Now, I’m not advocating that you do a casino night, but people loved this event because they got to hang out, play fun games and they had the chance of winning big prizes. You can easily take away ideas from an event like this and implement them into your own activities.

Before I wrap this up let me offer two more words of advice on studying your context. First, make sure that you don’t let your personal background inform your observations of the campus. You can’t avoid this entirely, but as much as possible try to view the campus through fresh eyes.

Second, remember that you can’t reach every people group on campus at the same time. If there are other Christian groups on campus it could be helpful to see who they’re targeting and then find your niche based on what you’ve learned. Your group might be best positioned to attract the intellectuals or the international students. It’s also likely that the audience you attract will change as time goes on and the campus climate adapts.

Now I want to hear from you! What are some things you’ve already observed about your campus context?

 

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Top 10 Posts Of 2015

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Leadership, Planning, Resources, Social Media, Technology 0 Comments

Believe it or not, 2016 is almost here. It’s been a good year here on the blog for college ministry. Our team wants to thank you for taking the time to read this blog and invest in the lives of college students. Our hope is that in some way we have helped take your ministry to the next level.

Before we close out 2015 here’s a look back at the top 10 posts from this past year determined by how many times they were viewed.

  1. A Cheap, Easy Way To Advertise Your College Ministry This idea combines cheap materials like water bottles, lollipops, mailing labels and some decorative packing tape as a great tool for advertising your group.
  2. Which Is Better: Flashy Large Group Meetings Or Deep Discipleship? Long debated in Christian ministry circles, here’s my take on the answer to this classic question.
  3. Idea For Using Technology: Using Periscope For Ministry Read about the app that launched earlier this year and how you can best utilize it for college ministry.
  4. Is Praying for the Lost to Be Saved Biblical? We should long to see the lost come to know Him and praying for their salvation is Biblical. Read more about why it makes sense.
  5. Idea: Use Video Chats to Connect Over the Summer Many times, our college ministries increasingly pick up steam throughout each semester, and we feel like we’re just getting into the groove, when summer or winter break happens. Keep the momentum going over the summer and into the next semester by connecting with your students via video chat.
  6. Resource For Seniors: Start by Jon Acuff Over the summer I read the New York Times bestseller Start. by Jon Acuff. As I worked my way through it (it actually wasn’t work at all due to Acuff’s offbeat humor), I couldn’t stop thinking about how every senior should read this before they graduate.
  7. Ideas For Using Technology: Meeting & Event Group Text Reminders How many times have students missed your meeting because they simply forgot about it? Find out how to set up easy and simple text reminders so they never have a bad excuse for missing it again.
  8. How To Address Hot Button Issues With college students facing hot button issues every day on their campus and in our culture, how can we address these things without offending people and driving them away from God?
  9. Opening Weekend Activity: Explore Your Town Scavenger Hunt A fun idea that will help form relationships between the current and new students in your ministry, something that can be challenging at times.
  10. 5 Things I Learned My First Year in Ministry Sam DiStefano reflects on the most important things she learned in her first year of working with BASIC.

So, that’s it. There’s the top 10 posts of 2015 neatly organized so you can easily catch up and get prepared for 2016. Thanks for reading and have a happy New Year!

photo credit: Nailed it! My picture is a perfect 10! via photopin (license)

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Why Do You Believe?

Jamie Sinclair Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Resources 0 Comments

Why? How? Idk…

Does God exist?

How can you believe Jesus rose from the dead?

If God exists, why do bad things happen?

Faith and Reason

Humans are emotional beings, but we are also rational beings.

And as ambassadors of Christ, we hope to be all things to all people. Christian apologetics (the field of explaining the reasonability of our faith) has always been important and even used by New Testament authors like John, Luke, and Paul, and it is as important today as it has ever been.

Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.1 Peter 3:15

Apologetics is too large a field to compress into a single post. In the future I might share brief apologetic arguments, but here I want to explain how I’ve personally used apologetics in campus ministry, and then point you to an excellent online resource. (A resource I recommend for everyone from novice to expert.)

Apologetics on the College Campus

More than once I’ve received some variation of the following question: “Wait, you believe in God? But what about science!?”

You see, no one exists in a void. I’ve found that our culture in the North Eastern US is fairly secular, and what many are taught is a world view that looks down on faith in God as something that was significant only before science explained life and the universe.

Science is amazing, and truly has advanced remarkably, and I hope it continues! That said, science points toward the answer for some key questions and that answer is itself God! In fact, modern science brings questions concerning the origin of life and universe to head in such a way that the only reasonable answer for both is God. Further, as we better understand the complexity of life and the universe, there are three possible conclusions: intrinsic necessity, chance, and design; and the most reasonable of these is design. By whom? God. And this is apologetics, providing these answers (and in much greater depth).

When it comes to apologetics, it’s possible to have futile debates. I generally avoid debating at all. When I’m debating someone, they’re probably not interested in changing their mind. In fact, even when I won handily, my opponent simply walked away saying if they studied more they would win next time. For the record, I do occasionally engage in such debates, but generally when there are spectators and I want to make sure truth is represented.

What I prefer to debates are discussions. Especially with persons who are searching for truth but have some intellectual roadblocks keeping them from putting their faith in Jesus as the Son of God. And these students exist. Here’s one example:

One evening fairly late (10 or 11pm) I received a text from a student asking me to come meet her and her friend. Turns out her friend was interested in Jesus, but she had questions concerning the existence of God, the problem of evil, and why we would believe the Bible. I met them that night and walked through a number of defenses of the faith, and she was super interested! At the end of the conversation, she didn’t put her faith in Jesus, and, actually, she transferred after that semester and I didn’t see her for a year and a half. But guess where I saw her next? At a Christian conference (BASICcon)! I walked in on a Friday night and realized the girl sitting in front of me was the same person with whom I’d discussed these various apologetic arguments more than a year earlier. I was able to reconnect, and that conversation had been a part of her journey to Jesus!

In short, I’ve found that because of our cultural context, sometimes apologetics is necessary for evangelism. Someone might be seeking God, but if they feel like it is irrational to believe, they will be understandably wary.

Further, apologetics encourages the faith of those who are already born again. As they face a barrage of criticism, they don’t necessarily always need to argue back, but an understanding of the basics of Christian apologetics will allow them to stand strong.

Note: our relationship with God must go further than just our minds (intellectual ideas), but I think it should include our minds! (Luke 10:27.)

Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig

At times I’ve felt woefully unprepared to defend my faith. When people ask questions and we don’t know where to turn for answers, we often get emotional, defensive, and maybe our own faith is shaken.

First and foremost it’s important that we have a grasp on the basic doctrines of our faith. Things like salvation, justification, water baptism, our future resurrection, baptism of the Holy Spirit, prayer, worship, the Word of God, and more. And there is no substitute for just plain old spending time with Jesus! But the Bible encourages us to be prepared to give a defense of our faith.

Most of us are familiar the basic doctrines of our faith or at least know where to find info. But what about apologetics?

There are a number of resources, but there is one that has particularly impressed and encouraged me over the years: Dr. William Lane Craig. He has a ministry called Reasonable Faith, he is super well published (grab a book or two), and their website is outstanding!

(Public domain graphic: Syllogism Venn and cube by Tilman Piesk.)

About the Author

Jamie Sinclair

Twitter

Slang, theology, history, computers, politics, and more; Jamie is a guy of many interests...but living with Jesus tops them all. His life is full, simple, and crazy...and he strives (imperfectly) for both contentedness and godly ambition. He lives in Potsdam, NY where he serves his local church, working primarily with college students and young adults. You can find his infrequently updated blog at www.jamiesinclair.com.

About the Author

Jamie Sinclair

Twitter

Slang, theology, history, computers, politics, and more; Jamie is a guy of many interests...but living with Jesus tops them all. His life is full, simple, and crazy...and he strives (imperfectly) for both contentedness and godly ambition. He lives in Potsdam, NY where he serves his local church, working primarily with college students and young adults. You can find his infrequently updated blog at www.jamiesinclair.com.

Explore your college town with a scavenger hunt as part of your college ministry's opening weekend activities and events.

Opening Weekend Activity: Explore Your Town Scavenger Hunt

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Planning 0 Comments

It’s August and the fall semester is almost here! The beginning of the semester is always an exciting time and a great opportunity. Before you know it thousands of new students will be converging on your campus. If you haven’t figured out all of your opening weekend activities yet, I wanted to offer up this fun idea.

This idea puts a little twist on the typical scavenger hunt by adding the element of exploring your college town. Instead of the scavenger hunt clues or things you collect being found around campus you partner with local college hot spots (pizza shops, movie theaters, etc.) that participate in the event. You can also include some landmarks like parks and beaches.

These businesses can provide a clue that leads students to the next location and include a coupon or giveaway. It’s a great way to introduce new students to the community and the businesses that they will need to frequent in the future.

This idea works best in cities where there are a lot of establishments close by the college. Of course, you’ll also need to include returning students in this activity so that the new students have someone who can help them navigate their way around the town. Working together will also help form relationships between the current and new students, something that can be challenging at times.

Moving to a new place can be daunting, but an event like this is so helpful for making people feel comfortable while being fun at the same time. In fact, it’s so useful that students who aren’t Christians will be interested and your school administration may even want to help you promote it as part of their opening weekend kickoff.

What other ideas have you found to be successful for opening weekend? Share in the comments below and we might even give it a dedicated post in the future.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.