A Spiritual Formation Powerhouse
Graduation weekend at Indiana Wesleyan University marked the beginning of the end of this current season of ministry. Graduation weekend is always a blast, but this weekend was particularly meaningful since we weren’t able to celebrate in person last year. I couldn’t help but reminisce while I was watching the ceremony. It wasn’t that long ago I walked across that stage celebrating this academic milestone myself. But this time, I was able to celebrate the students I got to pour into these last two years. It was incredible.
Since then, I’ve really been thinking about how special of a place Indiana Wesleyan University is. It has been such a privilege working for my alma mater. IWU is a ministry machine. It’s a spiritual formation powerhouse. The discipleship IWU does to form students and send them out to change the world is truly remarkable. I couldn’t help but get a little sad at the thought of leaving this place. It’s been incredible kingdom work.
But the Lord has been pressing me with this thought: “What if your church implements a culture and mission like IWU to the students of USD? What can you take from a university with an abundance of faith formation opportunities and bring to a university in need of some more?”
That question lit my fire. I don’t know the answer just yet, but one thing I know for certain: Discipling young adults and families will be a must. What faith formation opportunities can we add to what churches and college ministries are already doing for this key demographic of Vermillion and the University of South Dakota?
“To Start Well There, You Have To Finish Well Here“
Things have slowed down a lot since graduation. This has given us plenty of time to focus on concluding our current assignment well, and prepare for what lies ahead. However, I’ve heard it said that “To start well there, you have to finish well here.” I can’t get carried away with what’s coming if I don’t take the time to really appreciate everything the Lord has done here. I have been so, so, so grateful for my time working for IWU:
- I’m grateful for meeting so many amazing ministry students, who honestly have discipled me more than they probably ever realized. These kids are the cream of the crop. They gave me so much energy, and reminded me of my passion to pour into college students and young adults. When I look at these students, I know the future of the church is in good hands
- I’m grateful for teaching a Theology 101 course. It was amazing to see how God used a General Education course for students to grow in their understanding of their faith and practice new life-giving spiritual disciplines. I didn’t just teach a course; I discipled 60+ students over 2 semesters. I hope and pray they walked out with a clearer sense of the love of Jesus, above all else.
- I’m grateful for directing a program called Examen. This was one of my favorite things I got to do. Examen is a summer camp for high school students to explore their call to ministry. They get to live on campus, participate in a bunch of fun activities, and take a 3-credit hour Bible or Theology course—and the whole program is free, including the college credit. Little did I know we would have to hold a 2-week summer camp over Zoom in the middle of a pandemic. But God completely blew our minds with how he worked in the lives of these students, even through virtual means.
- I’m grateful that I got to pour back into a ministry program that played a key role in my ministry education. The Kern Mentoring Program allows ministry students to receive their bachelors’ degree in 3 years, a Master’s degree in 2 years, with a bunch of additional spiritual formation, leadership development, and ministry experience thrown in. Teaching the cohort meetings, running their annual retreats, coaching students, and contributing some extra support to the program was incredibly life giving.
- I’m grateful to have launched a new ministry from the ground up. I’ve never done that before! The Called Collective is an online resourcing center for high school students exploring a call to ministry. We produced weekly blogs, videos, and newsletters to equip the next generation of ministry leaders. And it was so. Much. Fun.
- I’m grateful for my team. For Eddy and Bryn. For Charlie and Shami. For Faith and Dustin. For Brian and David. For Mason, Mason, and Quinton. For my professors that I had the honor of calling my colleagues. For the student workers who helped me grade things. Many hours were spent laughing and planning and dreaming and executing and driving to make all this happen. Those are memories I will deeply cherish.
- I’m grateful for what I learned about myself. And this list could go on and on. I became a dad. I grew in my teaching. I discovered I’m much more of a systems builder than what I thought. My thoughts are often dictated by how my feelings. Inversely, bad thinking yields bad feelings. Counseling is incredibly important. I should do it more. Work-life balance is possible. I freaking love the local church. My wife puts up with me so much better than I could have ever thought. Living in a flat downtown is annoying. I care way too much about what other people think. Working on a team is vital. I am incredibly passionate about college students, young adults, and ministry preparation. The Lord is always good—even in the driest and darkest of seasons.
And there is plenty more that I haven’t even written down yet. So much good has come from our time here, and we are going to miss it. But one of the things I’m the most grateful for about this season is it has further formed me into who I need to be for this next season of church planting.
In Other News
We’ve been steadily packing up our belongings and purging the things we don’t need (and making a couple extra bucks from Facebook Marketplace). We accepted an offer on our house, and have everything lined up for our new living space in Vermillion.
Another amazing celebration this month was that we qualified for financial assistance covering 80% of our hospital bills from when we had Amelia. Praise God for that!
As far as jobs go, Kasey has interviewed with a couple of nursing options, so we should have clarity on her work hopefully in the next week or two! Be praying for us as we discern which opportunity will be best for Kasey and our family. I’ve also had some opportunities come up for me to do some adjunct teaching for IWU’s online ministry programs, as well as work remotely to carry some projects through the summer. This all provides us some extra income and a ton of flexibility for me to work remotely as I commute between Vermillion and Sioux Falls.
I’ve had the chance to share about our church planting efforts at LifeSpring Church’s South Campus, be prayed over at Fuel Church, and will be preaching at LifeSpring Church’s North Campus this coming weekend. It’s been so fun getting to share everything God has been up to at these churches we love so dearly!
Finally, we pack the UHAUL on Memorial Day, and then we’ll be in Vermillion by June 1. It’s getting so real! Your continued prayers are so appreciated. We’ll catch you in the next update!