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Rats, Llamas and Christian Leadership

The Rat Pack. House of Jacob. Bean Squad. Holy Ghostbusters. Super Drama Llamas.

You might be thinking, “Does that actually mean something? Has she gone crazy and started typing random things?”

That’s a legitimate question. But I haven’t gone crazy, and yes, each of those represents an STP team this summer. STP is divided into teams and then further divided into rooms to facilitate deep relationship growth and development; there are two team leaders over the whole team, and then each room has a room leader. I’ve talked in general about what it’s like to be on STP, but being a room leader is a whole different ball game. I am on the Rat Pack this summer, so I asked Nirmal and Christa, our team leaders, a few questions about what it’s like being in a leadership role.

What brought you back to STP as a leader this summer?

Christa: I was asked in November to consider being a team leader. I grew so much the last two summers, and each summer I learned something new; I was excited to learn more about sin and the gospel and myself, as well as to live in super intentional community for the summer.

Nirmal: I’m going on staff with Campus Outreach, and Mike Polley [campus director at the U of M] said it would be the most strategic thing for CO ministry for me to be here this summer. I wanted to help and serve wherever is most helpful, so I was totally willing to come back as a team leader.

How do you think your expectations have been different from reality so far?

Christa: I came in expecting being a team leader to be like being a room leader, but the team leader role is so different. Also I’m not working 40 hours a week, so this summer is more restful. Living with five team leader girls and getting to know the room leaders on my team is a lot sweeter and more exciting than I expected.

Nirmal: I think I expected it to be harder and to encounter more challenges so far, but it has felt really natural to build relationships with the guys on my team and others. I’m anticipating things getting harder, but for now I’m enjoying it being surprisingly easygoing.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a leader?

Christa: Leading a team with each room and girl having very different personalities and figuring out what’s most helpful for each girl has been a challenge. Deciding what questions to ask to get to the heart of issues is much more of a person-by-person decision than I thought, but it’s good. It makes you think more about everything.

Nirmal: Balancing all of my different priorities this summer has been hard: investing in the room leader guys on my team, the disciples in their rooms, and guys from the U of M. Going to Athletes In Training has been helpful in that, since a lot of those guys are involved in it. I’m also raising support for the coming fall to be on staff so prioritizing has become key. Getting rest in the midst of all that has been hard, but it’s been good to learn.

How are you seeing glimpses of God’s work and the gospel in what you’re doing?

Christa: I’m learning a ton about forgiveness: how it practically works with my relationship with the Lord and my peers. The first theme talk about the prodigal son hit me hard. I realized I’m like both the younger and older son; I desire the Lord but run the other way. That realization has been convicting and beautiful at the same time.

Nirmal: I’ve talked to guys or heard from others about how the talks have been impactful: guys are seeing the depths of their sin in a new way and understanding more of what’s going on in their hearts, which I’m excited is laying groundwork for great growth throughout the summer.

Being a leader is never easy. But seeing Jesus in a new and deeper way and having the privilege of watching God work in others’ lives are unique in Christian leadership; leadership changes you way more than it changes anyone you’re leading. It’s absolutely worth it.

 

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Retreat to Victory

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A weekend retreat to a camp in the rolling hills of southern Minnesota, when the trees are budding and flowers are blooming…who doesn’t love the sound of that? Add to that the fact that the retreat is put on to prepare a group of college students to be effective servants of Christ, and it has the makings of the best weekend ever.

A couple weekends ago, about fifty students, including myself, attended a retreat just like the one I described,  better known as the Leaders Retreat, at Camp Victory in southeastern MN. These students have committed to be leaders on the Summer Training Project, Twin Cities Project, or Cross Cultural Project this summer. This retreat was a time of training and bonding to prepare us for a summer of spiritual growth. With four talks, three workshops, Bible studies and worship packed into two days, there is so much to share, but I want to give you a sneak peek into what the leaders retreat is all about!

Servanthood

Now, you may be wondering why this post is titled "Retreat to Victory." It wasn't meant to be just a funny pun on a retreat happening at Camp Victory. We learned a lot about what it looks like to be victorious as a leader this summer. The talks given by staff members Matt Reagan, Paul Poteat, Mike Polley and Eric Lonergan highlighted the truth that victorious Christian leadership is not about leading the most people to Christ, having all the answers or telling people what to do.

It's about being a servant.

Mark 10:43-44 states, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”

Servanthood sounds great, but nobody naturally wants to be a servant. It can be a lot of pressure thinking that we have to be the perfect selfless leaders for a whole summer. But we also learned that because of the grace we have received on the cross, the success of STP, TCP or CCP has been redefined. Success no longer looks like us being model Christians.

Success looks like being faithful stewards of the Gospel and growing deeper in our relationships with Jesus Christ. The results of the summer are up to God.

When the results aren’t up to us, we are free to fail. But we are also free to take risks, to step out of our comfort zones and experience the grace of God in a whole new way. That kind of victory makes this summer incredibly exciting! 

Leadership in Action

Saturday morning of the retreat, the STP leaders attended six mini-workshops designed to equip us for being team leaders and room leaders. We learned how to effectively spend time one-on-one with students, studying the Bible together or just having fun. But we also learned that all these things should be done with the aim of knowing them on a deeper level and pointing them to the Gospel. We also learned how to lead a discipleship group, do beach evangelism and study the Bible using the inductive study method.

Seeing day-to-day what it means to be an STP leader this summer helped adjust expectations to reality and allay a lot of fears!

Field Day Fun

Of course, we couldn’t spend a weekend at a beautiful camp without getting some time in the great outdoors. On Saturday afternoon, the CCP team put on a good old fashioned field day for the rest of the teams and staff. We competed in a three-legged race, wheelbarrow race, tug-of-war and lip-syncing contest. During free time on Saturday, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, mini golf and exploring the river area kept us busy; in the evenings, games like Mafia, Nertz or Bang were the popular attractions. It was awesome to see everyone come out of their shells a little more with people from other schools through the fun, informal times!

So much more happened at the retreat, but now you have a few snapshots to give you a taste of what we experienced! We’re so excited for this summer and can’t wait to share more about what God is doing! 

Here are a few pictures from the weekend: 

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2015 STP Internships

Every summer we have students who are talented in different areas work as project interns. There are several positions available for this summer:

FINANCIAL INTERN  |  Help pay project bills, learn to manage money using Quicken, and work with Josh, the CO Financial Manager

COMMUNICATIONS INTERN  |  Help write copy for the project’s blog, learn how to utilize social media, and work with Karen, the CO Communications & Web Manager

PHOTOGRAPHY INTERN  |  Help capture the moments during the summer and compile project collages

VIDEOGRAPHY INTERNS  |  Help produce recruitment videos and help students relive the summer

WEB CONTENT INTERNS  |  Help make all of the summer resources available to students

 

APPLY FOR AN INTERNSHIP

 

We'll get back to you by April 9th by email.

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