Friday, December 28, 2012

What I learned in Church: Part II, College Para-church student group

When I was 24 years old, in March 1999, I reached the bottom of my downward spiral and prayed to God for help and a new beginning.

I found a church that was pretty big in size, with a preacher that spoke in a strong Scottish accent (bonus!), but there was simply no way that I was going to realistically connect with anyone at the church in a meaningful way.

Before I had left for college, my father had told me to look up a group called The Navigators, which was a ministry group that he had found while in the military. On my college campus, there were a dozen such ministry groups and some were pretty popular and had large gatherings of students. The Navigators were only a couple dozen college students, but I found them to be genuine and down to earth. Exactly what I needed as a new follower of Christ.

The leader of the group met with me once or twice a week for one-on-one discipleship lessons which were invaluable and have stuck with me to this very day. With him, I was building a firm foundation from which I would never waiver.

I have to admit, that my life was still somewhat compartmentalized with this group. They were not my closest friends, and though I had turned my life over to Jesus, turning it over to other people - even those who clearly loved Jesus - was something that I was not quite ready to do wholly and completely.

My early years as a Christian were very much spent in solitude - reading the Bible, study materials, prayer, journaling, etc. Communion and fellowship were not a priority for me at that point, something that would have also probably done me a world of good at that point.

What I learned from this college Para-church ministry:

1. There are actually genuine, down-to-earth Bible believing Christians in existence. And they are really nice, and very welcoming.

2. You can "go to church" every single week, but if you are not building real relationships with real people then you are missing out on the big picture.

3. These relationships aren't always found within the four walls of "the church" and they don't always happen between 11 am and noon on a Sunday morning.

4. To this day, I've always felt bad that I wasn't a better friend to these people during this time. But as a new Christian, there was only so much that I could tackle at the time. And giving of myself wholly and completely to these people was not in the cards.


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