Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August: Time to get started!

Our Focus staff has just returned from our retreat in Sulphur, Oklahoma.  It was three days of fellowship, fun, and preparation for the coming year of ministry.  We have two opportunities every year to get away together for a long weekend like this, one in August and one in January.  Our August retreat is especially important because it’s our first chance to officially welcome our new interns and staff members to our team.  We welcomed nine new interns and one administrative member, all of whom will be valuable assets to the Focus staff and powerful ministers for God’s kingdom.  During our retreat, we shared stories about our lives, both funny and serious, and got to know each other much better.  Here are some tidbits I learned about our new interns:  Matt B is extremely ticklish, Miriam knows every Disney movie character, and Christian plays badminton with a unique grace and style.  

Two of our new interns, Kaitlyn and Miriam, enjoying some free time during our retreat.

Our retreat was obviously a lot of fun, but it served the crucial purpose of preparing us to work cooperatively as a team.  Without a basis of friendship, trust, and mutual respect, we would be severely limited in our potential accomplishments.  As we build our team spirit around a common mission of making and maturing disciples, we prepare ourselves to work together to do new, challenging, and deeply meaningful ministry on our campuses.

In addition to getting to know each other and building our team, we also spent much of our retreat time discussing the values and principles that we share as a staff and that we want to disseminate to the students of Focus.  We use Leadership Axioms by Bill Hybels as a resource in many of our staff meetings, and from it we have adopted the axiom, “Language matters.”  Words are our primary form of communication and have tremendous power to do both harm and good.  

Keeping in mind the importance of our words, we spent much of our meeting time over the summer choosing a theme phrase for the new school year.  This year, we have chosen “Words of Life.”  This theme will be printed on our t-shirts and advertising media, and it will guide sermon topics at Friday nights and special events.  We chose “Words of Life” for many reasons, and soon you will be able to read about that theme on our main page.  For now, I will tell you in my own words:  We chose “Words of Life” because God’s words give life and guide our lives.  The Father spoke a word and created the universe.  Jesus Christ was called the Word.  At his word, storms were stilled, demons vanquished, and the dead raised to life.  Throughout history, God has communicated to his people through words, spoken and written, and he continues to speak to us through the words of the Bible.  Words are powerful, and the words of God are the most powerful ever spoken.

Soon we will be meeting new students on our campuses as they move into residence halls and attend their first day of classes.  Our hope is that disciples of Jesus will speak words of life to these new students, share truth with them, and welcome them into the kingdom of God.  These first few weeks of class will be a vitally important opportunity to reach students before they become settled in with their friend groups and bogged down with classes.  During Welcome Week and a short time following, students are open to meeting new friends, exploring new ideas, and joining new organizations.  

Please pray specifically for these needs:

- Pray that our Focus students would make the most of this rare opportunity to meet and befriend the thousands of new students coming to our campuses.
- Pray that students arriving on our campuses would have open minds and hearts to hear the words of life that the Spirit of God wants them to hear this school year.
- Pray that Focus as an organization would have positive relationships with the staff and faculty of all the campuses where we meet.  Without their favor, we would not be able to do anything that we do on campus.

Our staff: some of the hardest working, brightest, and most dedicated people I know!

I am looking forward to an amazing year working with our highly skilled and enthusiastic ministers, interns, and students.  None of this would be possible without the prayers and financial support of people like you, so I give you my sincere thanks!  If you’re not a supporter yet, I ask you to consider investing in Focus and enabling us to reach students on college campuses all around DFW.