Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer With the College Group

When May rolled around earlier this summer, our usual College Group of 30 grew to a group of 70, and on some Sundays even more. More people meant we needed a bigger room, and inadvertently, more people meant better Sunday morning snacks, too. (Some details are worth noting.)
Our summer schedule from mid-May to mid-August is full. Grady teaches Sunday mornings; we gather for sand volleyball or soccer or ultimate frisbee Sunday evenings; we meet for Bible study and fellowship Tuesday evenings; we have softball games Wednesday or Friday evenings; and we have some sort of hangout planned each weekend, such as swimming or hiking or board games. Everyone is guaranteed at least four opportunities to connect during the summer weeks. 
It's a lot to fit in, but with a limited window of everyone home from school it's important to make as many intentional connections as possible. For some students, the group is simply a touch point at church while they're home. For others it's an important connection point in their spiritual growth and development. And for others, it's the center of their ministry and friendships and fellowship.
The group dynamics and needs are wide-ranging and, thankfully, we've found one other partner who is fully committed to loving and serving and engaging with the group beyond just Sunday mornings. We are prayerful for another person (or two or three or...!) to join our team in helping us disciple and develop leaders. It's a tall order and a big job.
It's a tall order and a big job because every person in that group knows that they can call anytime about anything, or they can show up on our doorstep at anytime about anything. And, trust me, they have and they will! But you know what? I wouldn't want it any other way. It wouldn't be honest love and true commitment if Grady and I were limited to showing up to class on Sunday mornings only. That's the easy thing to do. And that's the relationship-less thing to do.
It's a tall order and a big job because Grady and I have three little people that call us Dad and Mom and need a whole lot of our time. Finding childcare isn't always convenient, but it always works out. Bringing kids with us isn't always ideal, but it always works out. Getting ready for a loud or busy night with college students isn't always what I want to do after a full day of being Mom, but it always works out. It always works out because honest love and true commitment to serving other people is always central to serving Jesus. 
It's a tall order and a big job because it means Grady and I have to consistently live out the things we are continually teaching our group to live out. Serving with the College Group is personal accountability at its finest. There is a room full of eyes that watch us. A group full of open ears (whether they know it or not) that hear us. And a whole lot of confused minds that are on the  brink of making some of the biggest life changing decisions. Knowing there is a group watching, listening, and deciding helps to keep me humble before God and desperate for his grace to grant me wisdom and insight.
It's a tall order and a big job because a lot of our "free" time is geared toward participating in College Group activities or meeting one-on-one with students. It means shuffling kids and schedules and, in the process, it gives a refreshing reminder that my time isn't mine anyway and that investing in other people will always pay bigger dividends in eternity's perspective.
It's a tall order and a big job because some of the time group members don't like me, don't respect me, and don't acknowledge me. For me, it's much easier to be disliked than it is to be disrespected. For me, it's also easier to roll my eyes, walk away, and find another place to serve. But then I remember that it's a tall order and a big job and it's part of God's plan to grow and refine me. So I (try to) choose a smile, engage in conversation, and pray for patience and love.
Although it's a tall order and a big job, it's a precious opportunity with amazing blessing. It's true that to whom much is given much is also required. But in the same breath, much is also poured back. Grady and I relish in those gifted date nights the students occasionally offer us. We smile when we see good decision making develop into better decision making that develops into great decision making. We are encouraged when we see group members choose to serve the church and love other people because they have learned that it's their great joy and privilege to do so.
It's a precious opportunity with amazing blessing because my kids see and experience what being excited to serve other people looks like. They aren't just toted around with Grady and I from event to event. They have wonderful buddies in a lot of the college guys and they have fantastic babysitters in a lot of the college girls. They enjoy laughter and teasing and spoiling without being intimidated by a group of young adults.
It's a precious opportunity with amazing blessing because Grady and I see students decide, for themselves, what's important in life. We see students decide, for themselves, what they believe about God and church and the Bible. We see students decide, for themselves, what they value in friends and a spouse. Too many people either can't or don't make decisions; they simply exist. When Grady and I see students engage with their world and make intentional decisions it's very rewarding.
It's a precious opportunity with amazing blessing because Grady and I have a lot of special relationships. It's impossible to give consistent time and energy to a group and not have meaningful friendships. And you know what? We get to learn from them, too. Some have maturity beyond their years and insight that blows us away. 
It's a precious opportunity with amazing blessing because Grady and I are able to participate in a whole lot of fun! Seriously! Growing through the Passion Conferences each year. Enjoying overseas ministry opportunities. Worshiping at some amazing concerts. Feeling kind-of sort-of young(ish) and cool(ish) by hanging out at Starbucks and talking over coffee. Playing board games like nobody's business. 
So now it's August and the summer is almost through. Over the next couple of weeks our College Group slowly lessens in size and many return to campuses around the country. Although the schedule slows in the Fall, our intentionality with the group doesn't. In fact, because there are less people to love on there are more opportunities to share the love with those that are here.


  1. And this mom cannot begin to thank you enough for your love both for the kids AND for the Lord that you pour in to them day in and day out. You are appreciated and loved more than you know!!!!

  2. This is great, Sarah. So glad that you serve!

  3. I agree with will probably never know the true fruits of your labor. But the blessing of knowing that you have given without reserve, served selflessly and loved without holding back will always be yours.
    I admire you guys for all that you do and continue to do.

  4. You guys are an amazing family! Thank you for serving so selflessly!