One of the many things that I love about working with Cru is the uniquely fluid job description. Right now the spring semester is in full swing and my team is focused on building community and training our student leaders in various ministry skills. In the summer I have the pleasure of working with a new team in an exciting location on a summer mission, like Jackson Hole. In the fall my focus is 100% on sharing the Gospel and building our local campus ministry. Near the end of our first semester, my responsibilities shift with the winter weather to collaborate with other staff and work toward an elaborate and impactful conference experience, like the one that took place in Atlanta just after Christmas.
My Winter Conference experience to this point was primarily as an assistant to my Team Leader, Monica, who oversees the conference experience and ambiance. This year I worked under my new teammate, Mia, to create thought-provoking content for The Gallery: a 24-foot long prayer tunnel. The object of The Gallery was to give students who had five or ten minutes before their next meeting or session something to do that would keep their focus on spiritual things. With free creative license and only the somewhat vague theme of the conference (Witnesses) to work with, I settled on focusing my content on evangelism.
Working in campus ministry, we talk about evangelism a lot. Most of my conversations with college students on the topic of evangelism are about why they don’t want to do it. I decided to tackle this issue under the assumption that many other students at the conference had reservations of their own about sharing their faith with others, using the two walls of The Gallery to communicate two ideas about evangelism.
On one wall, I used ten frames and interactive materials to bring to light some “Barriers” to the gospel (in other words: excuses I hear from students about why they don’t share their faith). The frames expressed Barriers and prayer points for students who struggle with that Barrier. For Example, one Barrier was “Evangelism is not my calling.” After a quick paragraph with scripture references explaining that all Christians are, in fact, called to evanglism, I added at the bottom, “Pray that the Lord would share with you His heart for evanglism and show you how to be an effective witness.” The interactive materials were simple colored pens, note cards, and a box that I bought from Michael’s and painted one of the conference theme colors. The instructions were to write out a fear you have about evanglism and drop it into the box, as a symbolic way of “casting your cares on Jesus” and trusting Him to help you conquer your Barrier.
I tried to be a bit more positive on the opposite wall. My idea was to take nameless examples of effective witnesses from the New Testament and share their stories with students who fear evangelism or feel ill-equipped to share their faith. I wanted to use examples who were not mentioned by name in scripture because they are more relatable than a “Saint So-and-so” would be. Inspiration for this wall came at an Advent service when my pastor* talked about the first witnesses of Christ’s birth: the nameless shepherds, and the powerful nature of their testimony in spite of their lowly social standing. The effectiveness of a nobody’s testimony or boldness encouraged me because I identify with the little guy more than the super saint, and I’m sure that students do, too. The format of my “Biblical Witnesses” frames was telling a wittness’s story from scpriture, making a connection between the story of the witness and our own spiritual journey, and tagging it with prayer points asking God to make us like the witness in some way.
The Gallery was incredibly well-recieved by students and was mentioned by many as a highlight of the conference. I was so blessed and humbled by the compliments I recieved, both from students and from fellow staff memebers. I love writing and have been a skilled wordsmith since I was very young. I can’t imagine a better way to use my gift than this! I am thankful for the seasonal nature of my job and projects like this that allow me to use my specific giftings to glorify God.
*For the sake of giving credit where credit is due: Micah and I are members of Fullness Christian Fellowship in Vestavia Hills pastored by Bart Brookins, who I mentioned above. If you ever find yourself in Birimingham and in need of a church to visit on a Sunday morning, please come to church with me at Fullness! Check out the website before you visit: fullnesscf.org