One Way to Disciple: Watch, Practice, Dream, Repeat

In college, I spent pretty much all my free time dwelling with a campus ministry called Reach Out on Campus. I serve on it's advisory board now, so I wrote this up to share with its supporters and friends. It gave me a chance to think about what the discipleship there looked like, and the impact it had on me and the person I became. And since it's already written (haha!), I thought I'd share it with you:

I watched the ROC staff and their families so very carefully to see how they navigated life and the university. I watched to see what it meant to them to follow Jesus. I watched how they managed their families. I watched how they parented their children. I watched how they talked to congregations at church visits. I watched how they planned events. I watched how they studied the Bible. I watched how they memorized Scripture and used it to form their thinking. I watched how they led small group discussions. I watched how they shepherded the flock among them. I watched them encourage me in my studies. I watched how they wrestled with life’s persistent questions in the light of the Gospel. I watched as they served others selflessly with their time and resources.  I watched them graciously respond to people from a variety of theological traditions through the grace of the Gospel. I watched them persevere. Then I tromped back down the three flights of stairs and back onto campus to try it out.

I practiced following Jesus. I practiced thinking about the needs of others. I practiced planning events with a purpose. I practiced studying the Bible. I practiced memorizing Romans 8. I practiced leading small groups, even if only one other person showed up. I practiced teaching the Bible.  I practiced resolving conflicts with other students. I practiced talking about Jesus to classmates. I practiced talking about Him to strangers as I handed them free cocoa or popsicles. I practiced praying with others. I practiced caring for them, and I practiced seeing opportunities to encourage or to bless. I practiced serving the poor at Community Meals or with Good Works. I practiced persevering when my classes were hard. Then I clumped up Jeff Hill or Union Street or across College Green with my big blue backpack, back up the three flights of stairs to the ROC House to see who would talk about life with me.

I dreamed about what my family might be someday. I dreamed about what it meant to have a Christian marriage or to live in Christian community. I dreamed about how I might educate my children, and why. I dreamed about being the church. I dreamed about how my job or career might contribute to God’s kingdom. I dreamed about how I might continue to encourage, to bless, and to serve.

Some of my dreams turned into reality: I developed a healthy marriage and a mess of kids. We participate in a vibrant gospel-centered church community. Some of my dreams didn’t: I didn't land a public school teaching job despite my best efforts, and I am not on track to become Secretary of Education someday. I never went to graduate school. I haven't written a book (yet) called There's Only So Much Love in a Hot Dog. We mess up as much or more than we succeed, it feels. To my surprise, it turns out that being an undergrad was easy and "adulting" is hard, even when everything is going well.

But I continue to practice walking after Jesus and to dream. He has brought new and unexpected things to us: we took a shot at helping a young couple in our church with pre-marriage counseling recently. He has also brought more of the same things we practiced at ROC: leading small groups, advocating for children in extreme poverty through Compassion International, serving in our church in various long-term capacities, discipling our four children, seeing ourselves as an active part of Christ's body. I continue to serve, to struggle occasionally (throughout the day), and to persevere. 

Through God’s grace, Jesus used ROC in my life to set me on a path of intentional discipleship that I think is completely vital for any believer. I know my experience was not unique, and that ROC has done this for many of my friends and others I haven't met.  That's why I believe so strongly in ROC and what Jesus does through it. ...

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