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

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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.

tree

3 Ways to Activate Summer Growth

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Resources 0 Comments

With the end of school drawing near and students preparing to transition I wanted to discuss ways for us to activate our summer for maximum growth. Students will be going home, traveling, taking on internships or working. Some are graduating, some are sticking around for summer classes. As students and leaders, there is an excitement that comes with summer as we look forward to a slower pace, vacations, adventures and time for relaxing. However, there is also an acknowledgment that with summer break comes not so great things; things like apathy, temptation, and busyness. Without a regular meeting, how can we encourage our students to keep seeking after Jesus?

1. Stay Connected

Most BASIC groups have some sort of social media outlet (Instagram, Facebook,  ie.) that you can utilize to keep the group connected. It is an easy way for you to post weekly sermons, worship songs, prayer or scripture that can grow and stir the students. Encourage all members to participate by posting things that stuck out to them in their own time with the Lord. By taking the time to do this, you are showing the students that they are important and that you are available for them.

2. Church Participation

While we can connect with out students on social media, nothing beats face to face relationship. We know the importance of being part of a local body and the benefits that come with it. For some students, the BASIC meeting is all the church experience they have encountered. Encourage students to get plugged into a church over the summer. By regularly attending and serving at church, they will have multiple opportunities to grow, ask questions and mature in their walk. Participating in church also surrounds us with people who will care for and support us. Some students might be going back to hard circumstances and the church can be a place for them to find the support they need.

3. Make Goals

For students and leaders alike, making goals for our summer helps us work towards something. Summer is the perfect time for reflecting on the year, looking at areas for improvement, and studying things we want to learn more about. Check out this summer growth plan: http://campusministry.org/tools/summer-growth-plan. It helps us ask good questions and make healthy goals. Do you want to read more books? Do you want to learn more about the Holy Spirit? Do you want to grow in prayer? Take time to study and learn!

These are just three ways to take this summer season to the next level! Summer may look different for all of us, but we can all continue to seek after all God has for us in this season. There are things God wants to teach us and grow in us, how will we take Him up on it? What other things are you going to do to position yourself to grow this summer? Be encouraged that in every season, God is active and moving in you and through you!

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.

5 Things I Learned My First Year in Ministry

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

Summer is rounding out and in a few short weeks the college students will be making their way back to campus. Classes will resume, excited freshman will flood the hall, textbooks will be rented, dining halls will put out their best food, and everything will be buzzing with the hopeful optimism that comes with the start of every new year.

For a campus minister, this part of the year might be better than Christmas (might is the key word). I know I personally can not wait until my students return!! It was as I was thinking about them and the excitement that comes with the beginning of a new school year, I started to reflect on my past year as a campus minister.

Here are five things that I have learned this year.

1. Time is valuable

This year I learned the importance of time management.  And to be honest, I’m still working on it. When juggling coffee dates, leadership prayer, and planning meetings it’s easy to fill up your schedule and feel like you are constantly running. Having a schedule and planning ahead ensures that you don’t burn out and can be truly present when you give people your time.

2. Students are the best

You wouldn’t be in campus ministry if you didn’t have a heart for young adults. I always loved college students but never knew how much I would fall in love with my students. The absolute best part of my job is having the opportunity to serve them, know them, and encourage them. It has blessed me exceedingly and abundantly more than I could have ever imagined.

3. No one actually knows what they are doing

This was one of my favorite lessons this year, though it was probably the hardest to learn. Striving was something I really struggled with. As a new minister I was convinced that if I just read the right books, got the best discipleship material, and talked to enough seasoned ministers that I would finally have a handle on what I was supposed to be doing. The reality is, everything I read, researched, and heard all said the same thing. None of us know what we are doing in this life. Our only hope is to trust that God knows. We can trust that we are exactly the right people at exactly the right time on exactly the right campus. Very early on in my walk with the Lord a friend told me the familiar saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

4. Prayer works

When you realize you don’t really know what you are doing and no one else really does either, it can be a little uncomfortable. It is a human desire to be in control and to want to know what to do and what comes next. However, the Lord is infinitely wise and made it so we had to depend on Him, completely. I learned this year that the only difference between a successful meeting and one that was a little rough was when I took the time to pray about it. Prayer works every time.

5. Just Jesus

Your walk with the Lord is always the most important thing about your ministry. I found when I let weeks go by without spending real quality time with Jesus, feelings of worry, doubt and fear started creeping into my spirit. Jesus is what gives our ministry life and we just get to partner with Him. Any good that I could ever do is a direct result of Jesus’ work in me.

Maybe this isn’t your first year as a minister or leader on your campus but you learned a lot this past year. Maybe you even identify with some of my points and can add a few of your own. I encourage you to think through some for yourself. What did God teach you this past year? What are you excited about for this year? What can you improve upon? Reflecting always helps us process and become better leaders and ministers!

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.

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.

Coffee and a Book

The Principle of Self-Investment

Jamie Sinclair Advisors & Student Leaders 0 Comments

This idea isn’t original to me, nor am I the best practitioner, but I have found that self-investment is important for every leader because we impart who we are. So an important question might be, who am I? And more important than how I measure up for a given healthy/unhealthy metric is this: am I growing healthier? No one is perfect, but if I am becoming more like Jesus, that is worth imparting to others!

As leaders, we have an obligation to keep our edge sharp. Thus, it’s important that we take stock of our personal health. This is something to do year round, but for those of us in college ministry, the early summer is a perfect season to step back and evaluate and maybe take some fresh steps.

Obviously the foundation is spending time with Jesus. It is all about Him; apart from Him we can do nothing! Spending time in His presence changes who we are (2 Cor 3:18). But Jesus created us and wired us to learn and grow through a variety of means. And I would like to share three areas to which I am looking as I consider self-investment this summer.

1. Reading

Leaders are readers, right?

Regular Bible reading is a must. If you aren’t already following a reading plan, they can be helpful. Personally, I’ve used several plans on the Bible App via my iPhone (also available on other platforms including any web browser) and loved them! There is one plan I’ve read multiple times and has been great for me and many others: Jesus Culture Bible Challenge: A 30 Day Journey.

But what else might we read?

Have you received prophetic words in the past? What about your church or college ministry? A few years back I collated a number of words I had personally received into a single document, that way I can easily review and be encouraged and inspired by them. In Paul’s first epistle to Timothy he says to wage warfare by prophetic words and for Timothy to give himself to them (1 Tim 1:18, 4:14). When God speaks, listen! Further, this summer I plan to spend some time reviewing prophetic words spoken over my local church.

Beyond that, read some books written by Christian leaders who’ve seen God move and have advice for us. I could recommend books all day, but to keep it simple: I just finished (and loved) Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities, and in a couple days Finding Your Way Back to God: Five Awakenings to Your New Life will arrive, and I very much look forward to reading it.

And if you’re more of an audio learner, that’s cool too. Listen to messages and books on tape! I semi-regularly listen to Steven Furtick, Jim Cymbala, Matt Chandler, and Greg Boyd just to name a few.

I find that I rarely read anything that isn’t the Bible or a book directly related to an aspect of my faith. But such books can be helpful in expanding my imagination and understanding of various perspectives. A couple months ago I jumped at the opportunity to join some friends in a book club. First we read America by Baudrillard, then Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, and now some poems by Theodore Roethke. I am not specifically recommending these works, but they are definitely interesting and I appreciate reading them!

2. Running

I know, not very spiritual, right?

But for me, putting effort into running is healthy both physically (I used to weigh 270lbs) and spiritually; it is a very specific opportunity for me to grow in discipline. I have some goals, which I am very interested in reaching, but I will consider this a win if I’m running at least a couple of times each week.

God hasn’t called me to be a super athlete…I don’t have the genetic potential for such a thing, and trying to become one would waste a lot of time. But He has called me to take care of myself and to be self-controlled and diligent.

3. Friendship

The point of life isn’t information, it’s transformation. And the point isn’t even to read more and run more, it’s to be more like Jesus and closer to Jesus.

I need a few people in my life who will support and encourage me in these specific goals, and also be there to sharpen me in other areas, maybe concerning things of which I’m not yet aware! And, unfortunately, in the business of life, sometimes relationships grow a little distant. This is a good time to approach a couple of my closest friends and strengthen those connections, for their sake and for mine.

We need someone else to be a part of our personal growth. For support, for encouragement, for accountability.

These three areas are not the end all, but hopefully they will help you as you consider your own self-investment.

photo credit: What I’m Currently Reading 4 via photopin (license)

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.