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Fall 2013 Preview (we’re PUMPED!)

Hey friends! Can you believe it’s almost fall? We are so eager to have you guys back around. As we’ve been planning for fall there’s a ton of great stuff coming up that we want you guys to know about!

Our purpose in UMIN is to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples for the rest of their lives. The main way we do this is through Discipleship Groups. These groups are made up of a few of your friends, walking through life with a mentor who is a life-phase (or more) ahead of you, who will challenge you to look more like Christ during your time in college. If you’re interested in joining a DGroup, we’ll have two interest meetings when you get back – Sunday, September 15th after Sunday School in the Loft, or Wednesday, September 18th after Worship & Study in the Loft.  Plan to be at one of those meetings to find out more and sign up for this central piece of our ministry! We kick off new groups the week of September 29th.

Speaking of Sunday School and Worship & Study, we’re really eager to walk through Scripture with you guys this fall. Sunday School kicks off August 25th at 11am in the Student Building. Each fall we offer four different classes in Sunday school that you can be a part of for the entire semester, and you don’t want to miss it! In Worship & Study we will be walking through the book of Hebrews, beginning August 28th at 8:30pm. Bring your friends and come worship with us!

Every year we look forward to sharing some free, warm, buttery goodness – this year our Pancake Kickoff will be Tuesday, August 27th from 9pm to midnight. We love to welcome you guys back to school, and what better way than with free pancakes in the Student Building!?

This year we’re planning another great Fall Retreat on October 4th and 5th! We’ll be heading to Camp Hargis – it’s the perfect chance for you guys to get away from the crazy start of school and enjoy time together in community, complete with a campfire, s’mores, worship and Bible study with some great friends to lead us. You’ll hear more from us about how to signup in August, but mark it on your calendars – it’s going to be awesome!

We’re praying for you guys as summer winds down and you start to think about school again. We cannot wait to see how the Lord works in the upcoming semester, and we really can’t wait to see your smiling faces again soon!

Life in Discipleship: with Evan Musgraves

Over the past several weeks, we have been posting a blog series featuring student ruminations on their experiences of “Life in Discipleship” here with UMin. The fall is going to be an important time for new folks to get involved in mentoring discipleship relationships. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will challenge you to take advantage of this opportunity for real and deep growth during your time in college.

This post comes to us from Evan Musgraves, a senior History and Religion major at Samford.

Much of my summer has been spent in solitude as I work in Nashville at the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. The job itself is awfully quiet (it is a library after all) and I have had the house to myself for 7 weeks. This time to myself has opened up wonderful opportunities to grow in Christ as I have had time to read and reflect in quietness. I have been studying Hebrews and reading Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, a wonderful book by Paul Tripp. As fruitful as this time has been, it has also brought me to the realization that most growth in the Christian life occurs in the context of community.

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands is a wonderfully gospel-centered book on ministering to others. Tripp notes that Christians will often take great pains to prepare to teach the Word but scramble to find something to say whenever a friend encounters a tough spot in life or a difficult struggle with sin. We end up offering out of place Bible verses and meaningless platitudes. In one of his most compelling paragraphs, Tripp implores Christians to make the God the center of personal ministry rather than ourselves:

What we think of as ministering the Word is little more than a spiritual cut-and-paste system. This kind of ministry rarely leads to lasting change because it does not bring the power of the Word to the places where change is really needed. In this kind of ministry, self is still at the center, personal need is the focus, and personal happiness remains the goal. But a truly effective ministry of the Word must confront our self-focus and self-absorption at its roots, opening us up to the vastness of a God-defined, God-centered world. Unless this happens, we will use the promises, principles, and commands to the Word to serve the thing we really love: ourselves. This may be why many people read and hear God’s Word and remain unchanged. Only when the rain of the Word penetrates the roots of the problem does lasting change occur.

With this in mind, Tripp addresses the need for discipleship in community. He responds to the notion that Christians can live life on their own, thinking that they can perceive their need for God without the help of other Christians. To this, Tripp says

I need you in order to really see and know myself. Otherwise, I will listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies, and buy into my own delusions. My self-perception is as accurate as a carnival mirror. If I am going to see myself clearly, I need you to hold the mirror of God’s Word in front of me.

This is what happens in discipleship. This is why discipleship is so important. I have seen this in my own life through SMBC. Discipleship certainly brings personal change and transformation based upon the Word but it does much more than that. It forces me to think of spiritual growth as extending beyond myself. If the goal of Christianity is to think of myself less and about God and others more, as Tripp says, then discipleship in community is critical to becoming who God desires me to be. It is community based sanctification. In a discipleship group, it is harder to keep “self at the center, personal need the focus, and personal happiness the goal.” I can read the Bible on my own, pray on my own, read spiritual books on my own but I can still be self-centered in all of that—thinking only about my spiritual health, my relationship with God, and how spiritual I will look to others. Discipleship addresses this deepest problem: self-centeredness. I am forced to not only think about others, but actively love them. We see that God’s work extends well beyond ourselves. In my discipleship group we read the Bible together, we pray together, we share in the Christian life together.

In my discipleship group, we have focused especially on prayer. This focus on prayer leads us to lift our eyes up to God and outward to each other. We share our own struggles of course, but the focus is on bearing each other’s burdens whether they are burdens of suffering or personal sin. One practice that has been particularly helpful is taking turns writing out prayers. There is something special about sitting down and writing on paper what is in my heart.

But as great as the accountability and prayer is, sometimes it is just nice to have friends who you can eat barbecue, watch Hot Rod and True Grit, and build blanket forts with. But in all these things, God is molding us more into his image as we hold the mirror of God’s Word up to each other in accountability, prayer, and fellowship.

Life in Discipleship: with Amy Atkinson

Over the next several weeks, we will be posting a new blog series featuring student ruminations on their experiences of “Life in Discipleship” here with UMin. The fall is going to be an important time for new folks to get involved in mentoring discipleship relationships. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will challenge you to take advantage of this opportunity for real and deep growth during your time in college.

This post comes to us from Amy Atkinson, a junior at UAB.

At first, I did not actually sign up for the discipleship group.  Instead, I was asked by my roommate at the time if I could give her a ride to where they were meeting that night. I happened to stay for their D-group meeting and by the end of the night, I knew that God was telling me to be a part of this group of women. As Christians, God calls us to fellowship and community with fellow believers. It’s not just going to big church, Sunday school, and Wednesday night worship. It is being a part of a close knit group of people and growing in holiness towards Christ with them. Discipleship group has helped me get to know some amazing Samford girls, our group helps bridge the gaps between UAB and Samford students. We started in February and now it is already July, it is truly amazing to look back and see how far our group has come since then.

When I hear the word Discipleship I think of a group of people who are not perfect, but love one another for it.  Together, we work to grow closer to Christ and to fight the battle that sin wages against each one of us every day. I have formed relationships with these girls and them with me. This includes our fabulous d-group leaders, who have poured so much into us, and I think we have poured into them in some ways as well. I have come to look up to my Discipleship leaders as I look to the way they follow Christ. We all understand that we are flawed as humans and problems come up in our life (as we call them, “onions”). Being a part of a discipleship group encourages me that I am not alone and that there are women who have the same battles against sin as I do.

Life in Discipleship: with Anna Truitt

Over the next several weeks, we will be posting a new blog series featuring student ruminations on their experiences of “Life in Discipleship” here with UMin. The fall is going to be an important time for new folks to get involved in mentoring discipleship relationships. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will challenge you to take advantage of this opportunity for real and deep growth during your time in college.

This post comes to us from Anna Truitt. She is a rising junior nursing major at UAB.
Discipleship is beautiful. Discipleship is ugly. Ugly, because it requires one to willingly show others their sins. It demands that one humble themselves, be vulnerable, and admit that no matter what type of show we put on, we have struggles, we have sins that we just aren’t willing to let go of, and we are not perfect. (MAJOR pride-killer, there) Beautiful, because it brings our sins, once shamefully hidden in darkness (right where Satan wants it), into light. Once in the light, we find that there is no shame in this sin. There is no shame in being free from what once held us bound.

My first time being involved in a discipleship group was in summer of 2011. The fact that all of my friends I met from freshman year went home for the summer is what drove me to want to be involved in discipleship group. I needed community. I had no idea that the community of girls that the Lord would surround me with would jumpstart my desire to mature in Christ. That group of about 7 women painted a picture of what it truly looked like to follow Jesus. I saw how they were so knowledgeable in Scripture and how their greatest joy was in knowing their Lord. At this point, I knew I wanted what they had. I wanted to KNOW Him…to count everything as rubbish for the sake of knowing Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

I spent this past year in a discipleship group with 5 other girls. We were all single and hated it to say the least. I love how the Lord used community with one another to help us find satisfaction in Him. Our individual struggles became a group struggle, in a sense, and we were able to see the Lord satisfy each of us as we bore one another’s burdens. We learned that being satisfied in Him was to be satisfied with His provision, remembering that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1Timothy 6:6)

This summer my discipleship group did a Beth Moore study called When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. We learned what it meant to give grace upon grace to believers who were seduced by sin. We also saw the importance of guarding our hearts and minds against the schemes of the devil and to purposefully recognize areas in our life that the devil constantly uses to seduce us. One part of the study that really impacted me was learning that, as believers, we need to be sifted by Christ—even our pasts. Through the painful process of walking through healing with the Lord, He taught me that He has authority over my emotions, my feelings, and my attachments. This area of my life needed to be sanctified. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Life in Discipleship: with Jillie Rufe

Over the next several weeks, we will be posting a new blog series featuring student ruminations on their experiences of “Life in Discipleship” here with UMin.  The fall is going to be an important time for new folks to get involved in mentoring discipleship relationships.  Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will challenge you to take advantage of this opportunity for real and deep growth during your time in college.

This post comes to us from Jillie Rufe.  She is a rising sophomore nursing major at Samford.

This past year was my freshman year, and it was absolutely crazy, different, new, and amazing all in one!  I have grown up in church and have always been involved in a youth ministry back home, but this year I have changed and grown so much.  As I started coming to Shades I consistently heard the phrase “let’s do life together,” and I thought it was catchy, but I really don’t think I understood the impact and meaning behind those words.  A few months into my first semester I joined a discipleship group in order to meet more people and grow in my walk with Christ.  Little did I know, I would “do life” with these people.  My discipleship mentor cooked a wonderful, homemade dinner for our group every week.  We had fellowship and then studied God’s word together.  There were girls from all different places in their college journey, with all different majors.  Each of us, in our different stages of college, still were learning the same lessons and striving toward the same goal, to live godly lives that impact others for His name.  Each girl in my group happened to be from Samford, yet I probably would not have met them otherwise.  They were such a blessing to me.  Being a freshman, they gave me advice on things that they had experienced and encouraged me to become more involved on campus and in church.  I knew that I could talk to any of them if I ever needed anything. 

My discipleship leader and I also got to meet one-on-one a few times, and she became someone that I could share anything with.  She has been through college before and offered great encouragement and wisdom throughout the year.  She showed me what it meant to be obedient to Christ in love and service.  Up until this year, I have struggled with my motivations for why I go to church, why I read my Bible; was it out of duty or habit or was I following Christ because I was in love with Him?  Mrs. Joanne faithfully and joyfully displayed a love for Christ through discipleship.  She invested in me and supported me through my freshman year.  She taught us how and why to pursue holiness.   I learned that I could truly minister to the heart of God through my obedience and actions as well.

This year, the discipleship group was an essential!  My relationship with Jesus became more personal and deeper than ever before.  I always had someone I could call for literally anything.  I had the blessing of talking with others about their journeys with Christ and always started out the week encouraged.  We confided in each other, kept each other accountable, and built lasting friendships.  And, this summer, I have really missed discipleship group and the college ministry!  Being in a discipleship group really motivated me to pour into others as my group did for me.  Having someone invest in me and constantly point me toward Christ made all the difference!

Life in Discipleship: with Hannah Brancheau

Over the next several weeks, we will be posting a new blog series featuring student ruminations on their experiences of “Life in Discipleship” here with UMin.  The fall is going to be an important time for new folks to get involved in mentoring discipleship relationships.  Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will challenge you to take advantage of this opportunity for real and deep growth during your time in college.

This post comes to us from Hannah Branchaeu.  She is a graduating nursing student at UAB.

Discipleship to me sometimes seems like the process by which a group of people that love each other beat the sin out of another.  But in a loving way, and with a Bible. And I am so thankful that I have had the chance over the past year to be a part of this kind of process.  Discipleship is so deeply based on relationship, and the foundation of that relationship is that we all crave to know and love Jesus more.  Just as Christ set the example of teaching and refining others, there are older men and women in the church who have the desire to pour into us, just as they were also poured into.  The women who have discipled me and been examples of Christ in my life are precious, and I am so thankful for the wisdom and insight that I have gained from them!  Not that these women are perfect and have it all together—they are flawed, just like I am flawed, just like you are flawed.  But the point of looking to them and learning from them is that they really aren’t the ones that I’m following at all; I look to them and follow them as they follow Christ. 

And I just love how following Christ and living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ is not something we were meant to do alone.  God himself set the example before time of living in relationship when he existed perfectly with himself (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  I’ve seen in my own discipleship group how loving one another and being honest with one another has offered us chances to give encouragement and show grace as we struggle through living a life that flees from sin and honors God.  I love what it says in John 15:8-9:

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

The point and purpose of discipleship is that God would receive glory, because his glory is the only worthy pursuit of our lives.  Scripture tells us that a true discipleship relationship that is based on the example of Christ will produce change in our lives—from the inside out, we become more like Christ and abide in his love. Daily, we experience life in the knowledge and understanding of the love of Christ that moved him to die on the cross for us.  I see this example in the women who give up their time to disciple me—they love Jesus, it changes the way that they live, and that testifies to the glory of God.  And by watching them and learning from them, I feel like I have seen a picture of Christ.  Through them, I understand more fully the process by which I grow into an image of Christ, straining to live a life that wars against my sin so that my God may be glorified. 

I have seen such rich benefits from discipleship in my own life, and I feel eternally grateful to the women who have poured their time and love into me.  Living life in relationship with one another is such a beautiful thing, and my prayer is that the body of Christ would be committed to discipleship for the glory of our God!

Discipleship Groups: Fall 2012

 

Click here to complete our online discipleship group interest form – it’s not too early to let us know that you’re interest in being a part of a group this fall!