Viewing entries in
Blog

Comment

Interns

Every summer, Campus Outreach hires a handful of interns for the Summer Training Project.

This year, we have nine.

There are various needs to be met on Project, and it is such a blessing to see the ways God has created individuals to be able to meet those needs.

There are two main categories for interns: Finance and Communications.

Communications is broken down further into video, photography, podcasts, and blogging internships.

Let’s start with the finance team.

This year on Project we have Maura Bickner, Ryan Carriere, and Harrison Hitt serving the Project with the gifts God has given them by organizing and handling all finances. This primarily includes support that comes in for students as well as reimbursements for those who have an overage in support. The three students have been handing out weekly support folders to keep students up to date on how much support they have and how much they still owe for Project.

Next up, the communications interns.

This summer, Luke Miller and Greg Stewart are our videographers. A few products of their hard work can already be found on the Campus Outreach website (www.cominneapolis.org). The duo is working on the Project recap, promo video, and various student testimonies. Greg is also working on videos for the global staff conference – a conference for Campus Outreach staff from all over the world.

The other dynamic duo we have serving Project needs is the photography girls! Megan Arnold and Nikki Nelson are tag teaming photography this summer. The two are using their skills and advanced cameras to capture the Kodak moments of STP. Their wonderful work can be found easily on the STP Facebook page (search Campus Outreach Minneapolis Summer Training Project).

Isaac Chan is serving by handling podcasts this summer. Are you an STP student who was sick or absent for a training? Are you a curious parent who wants to know what talks your child has been hearing all summer? No problem! Every talk is recorded, and Isaac has been uploading them to the Summer Training Project website (stp.cominneapolis.org). Check them out!

That leaves my internship as the blogger. My job this summer entails updating social media (Facebook and Twitter) as well as blogging for the website. The primary purpose for STP having a blog is to serve and update family and friends back home about the happenings at Project. Many students have limited time to update their supporters and loved ones. This is a way to keep them in the know, if only in regards to broad, overarching topics (for more details and personal accounts, keep asking the student you’re connected with – I’m sure they would love to share with you!)

So those are the interns! We have enjoyed serving the Project. Please keep praying that God would use us over the course of the next few weeks!

Comment

Comment

Campus Time: Refresh, Refocus, Remember

The four main campuses at the summer training project are Bethel, Northwestern, U of M, and St. Thomas.

On Tuesday evenings, the Project breaks off into our respective campuses to have what we like to call…

Campus Time.

Campus Time looks different for each campus depending on what the student leaders have planned for the week.

The main purposes of Campus Time are to bond as brothers and sisters in Christ, develop a group unity, and plan and pray for returning to the campus.

Relationships formed at Project are incredibly important. The fellowship to be had at Project is a sweet blessing. But the most important relationships, arguably, are formed with those who are on the same college campus.

Why?

Project is two months of the year. At minimum, we spend 8 months on our college campuses. Project has been referred to as a “bubble” because we are constantly around community and being poured into via talks and intentional conversations, and it is normal to converse about the gospel at any time.

However, home is different. When we are back on the campus, it’s easier to become complacent and caught up in putting our hope in things like popularity, body image, grades, etc. The relationships we have with our brothers and sisters back on campus are the ones we turn to for gospel truths, friendship, and pointing each other back to Jesus, which makes our friendship that much deeper.

Campus Time is not just relationally helpful, but also strategically helpful. Every university is unique in its structure, theology, and student body; from a small city-like public school like the U, to a large, private Catholic university like St. Thomas, to a smaller, private Baptist university like Bethel. Therefore, thinking and planning for ministry back on campus looks different for each group of students.

Additionally, each university’s Campus Outreach is composed of unique students with different strengths and weaknesses. We want to tailor our ministry to build off strengths and pray through as well as help each other with weaknesses.

Although Campus Time may be as formal as designating ‘ministry partners’ or delegating dorms for ministry in the fall, or as informal as getting Chipotle and bonding as we chat about our lives, Campus Time is meant to refresh ourselves, refocus our vision, and remember the campuses where God has placed us.

Comment

Comment

Life Training

Every Sunday morning, before heading off to church, we start our day with Life Training.

Which is what, exactly?

Probably what you would guess: talks about various life topics and what it means to look at the world through a gospel lens.

So...what topics?

Glad you asked!

So far, we have investigated subjects like “Free Time,” “Free Identity,” “Worry Free,” and “Free from the Love of Money.”

Obviously, there is a trend amongst these topic titles. Our overarching theme of “Free” is a topic that the staff and team leaders want to incorporate in each talk.

Cody Walkup and Patrick Rydeen are giving these talks now that staff are gone.

The point of Life Training is to dialogue about topics and equip us students for the years to come. College ministry, for most of us, is only a short season in our lives. We want to be a people who love Jesus and are walking with him for the rest of our days.

It is important, as well as practical, to address topics that everyone in our society faces through a biblical lens. We will all deal with things like handling finances, struggling with people-pleasing and body image, working jobs and making disciples in the workplace, and balancing between being over-committed and lazily idle.

That is essentially the point of life training. Once the talk is over, the floor is opened for question and answer time. We students are all struggling with different things, and certain topics really hit home for individuals. Q&A is an opportunity to ask the pressing questions that the talk hasn’t already answered. If the staff or team leaders do not have an answer, then the group collectively works to discover what the Bible says.

Although the Bible does not explicitly say, “This is how you should view working at Walmart this summer,” we can ask ourselves the question, “In light of what the Bible does say, how can we view working at Walmart this summer?” We can find Biblical truths to shape our worldview, and we can find Biblical truths to combat the lies we believe. When God is working in our hearts, the promises in the Bible change our perspective on everything.

Comment

Comment

When the staff are away...

It’s that time.

Project is over halfway to completion, which means…

…staff is gone.

That’s right. All have departed.

For those of you who haven’t been informed by your student, this is how Project works: Project is nine weeks long, and four weeks into the summer, the Campus Outreach staff leaves. Only students remain.

What?!

Don’t worry, we are not running around Myrtle Beach unsupervised. We are now being shepherded by the student leaders. As I have mentioned in previous writings, Project has two project directors, a total of 13 team leaders, and approximately 25 room leaders. There is definitely accountability and guidance and structure to the Project. We are in good hands.

So why does staff leave?

Ashley Suapaia shed some light on that:

“Staff leave for a few reasons. 1:  For student leadership – for freedom to lead and ownership in leading the Project. 2: Support – they use this time to either raise more support or follow up with supporters they already have. 3: Time with family – This month off gives them time to pursue their families and spend quality time with them before August comes and school starts up again.”

Ashley and Jared Grove are the project directors this summer. When staff members are gone, these two, along with the team leaders, are the primary caretakers of Project.

I asked Ashley how she is feeling now that staff are gone.

“To be honest, in the beginning I was dreading it because I was putting a lot of unnecessary weight and burden on myself. I was anxious because I couldn't imagine leading a project without staff there, but this was me fully trusting in man and not in God. I was not seeing that this Project is the Lord’s and His sovereign hand was over this, and He is graciously using us as workers to proclaim His name.

After staff left I definitely felt the student leadership rise up. I felt much more free to lead and to own this Project with the other Team Leaders. It has been great for our student leadership to have staff gone because it has bonded us more and helped us to depend on the Lord and each other. We now as Team Leaders have prayer every Wednesday morning asking the Lord for help with this Project which creates a child-like dependence on our Father. It has been really sweet to be here with staff gone.

I feel more tired since there are less people to do tasks when the students are gone, but I have found so much joy partnering with the rest of the Team Leaders to walk forward in faith trusting that God has us in leadership positions for a reason and to steward those in a servant hearted way rather than an authoritative way.”

For the remainder of the summer, the training talks – normally given by various male staff members – will be given by the team leader guys, and each leader has a different subject (evangelism, Bible study, etc.) that he will be focusing on. Although it can be a daunting or anxious thought to give a talk in front of everyone, we trust in the Lord. In and of themselves, these men have no power to work in students’ hearts. But God causes the growth, and he uses people to further his purposes. We are excited to see what God does while the staff are gone.

Prayer request: Pray for Jake, Cody, Brent, Jared, Reed, and Patrick as they pray about, prepare for, and give their talks this summer. Pray that they would not put their hope in their performance, but in the finished work of Jesus Christ and the Lord’s ability and faithfulness to change hearts.

Comment

Comment

Team Time

There are six teams on Project:

1)      Pimpo my Ride

2)      Gefilte Fish

3)      Rickrollers

4)      Tune Squad

5)      Tomb Raiders

6)      Servant Team

Yes, we know some of these names are strange. Each one has a back story, so feel free to ask a student!

On Wednesday afternoons, after we’re done with Bible Study Training, the teams break out for Team Time.

Team Time can look very different each week for each team, depending on what the two team leaders plan. As a general rule, Team Time meets the ‘need of the hour.’ This may include planning for upcoming events, playing games and bonding, or simply cancelling Team Time for the week in an effort to give students more time for rest.

There are over 100 students at Project. It is nearly impossible to get to know 100 people very well in a short two months. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to discern who to spend time with. Students can easily stretch themselves thin trying to get relational time with everyone on Project. It cannot be done. What can be helpful about the structure of Project is that students naturally get more time around certain people, and that opportunity allows for deeper relationships.

Let me explain a bit further what I mean by "the structure of Project": We have over 100 students on Project. However, we are placed in rooms, on teams, in jobs, and we each come from a particular college campus.

Students typically spend the most time with their roommates. This allows for deep relationships to be formed and fellowship to grow.

The second largest chunk of time is usually spent with the CO students we directly work with (i.e. all the students in apparel at Walmart). We spend nearly 40 hours a week with our coworkers, and sweet conversations and bonding time often happen while at work.

Students naturally gravitate toward people they know from their college campuses back home, so there is natural relational time with those friends.

So how do teams play out in this? Being split into teams allows us to get to know students we may not otherwise spend time around. For example, I am on team Rickrollers (shout out!). One of my team leaders, Jake, is a male from Northwestern. He is going to be a senior and he works in the sporting goods department at Walmart. If we were not fellow Rickrollers, would I have ever gotten to know Jake?

If I were to guess, I would say….probably not? Probably not.

Thus, a key component of teams and Team Time is that they help facilitate bonds and brother-sister relationships that may not otherwise develop. We are united with our teammates in a sweet way that helps enrich fellowship, and sweet fellowship points us back to our savior, Jesus Christ.

Which is what Team Time, Project, and the rest of our lives are ultimately about.

Comment

Comment

Daily time in the Word

Upon arriving at STP, one of the items students receive is a calendar of June and July. For each day – minus one day of 'catch up' per week – there is a verse or chunk of verses from Galatians to study.

There is great importance to studying the Bible each and every day.

I want to pause to discredit any ideas that we are pushing legalism.

In case you are unfamiliar with the term, here is the definition of “legalism” from Dictionary.com:

le·gal·ism

[lee-guh-liz-uhm]

noun

1. strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.

2. Theology .

       a.the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.

       b.the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

By no means does Campus Outreach or Bethlehem Baptist agree with legalism. We are saved and sustained by grace through faith alone. No amount of studying the Bible can add or subtract from our salvation.

However, there is so much to benefit from getting in the Word each day, and that is where we want our hearts to land.

I’m glad I didn’t write this blog post sooner, because Reed Schaaf, a team leader from the U of M, just gave a talk on “Maximizing Your Time in God’s Word” yesterday at Bible Study Training, and it was helpful in thinking through why we want to get in the Word every day.

There were a few one-liners that Reed said yesterday that I think are particularly helpful to this topic. I’d love to share a few:

  • “If you don’t plan to study the Bible, you won’t study the Bible.”

Because of our sinful nature and the fact that our adversary (Satan) loves to distract us from God, we are not naturally bent toward seeking the Lord above all else. We constantly run toward things that are not Jesus. Therefore, having some structure can be helpful in attaining and maintaining consistency when it comes to studying the Bible.

  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

Let’s let scripture speak for itself. This passage basically describes sanctification; we are, by the power of the Holy Spirit, being transformed and changed from one degree of glory to the next. Our old self is perishing as He changes us to be more like Himself. How does this happen? When we are “beholding the glory of the Lord.” What is one way to do that? TO READ THE BIBLE! He gave us a book about Himself! It only makes sense that we would spend time reading it in order to better know our savior.

  • “Reading the Bible is like adding soil to a pot. The more soil you add, the deeper and healthier the roots will become.”

We want to have deep roots. We want our lives to be so firmly planted in the Word of God, that circumstances and trials don’t shake us like they should. We want our hope to be so firmly rooted in Jesus Christ, that distractions of this world don’t affect us like they could. We want to study the Bible each day so that our roots my grow deep and our joy may be made more full in Jesus.

Comment

Comment

Evangelism Training

As I mentioned in a previous blog, we have several trainings each week here at Summer Training Project.

One training that is particularly sweet is Evangelism Training.

It’s a unique opportunity to have a training each week on the Biblical whys and hows regarding evangelism. Before STP, I don’t recall anyone ever truly explaining evangelism to me. I knew Christians were supposed to live out their faith and be a light to the world, but it’s hard to wrap one’s mind around that. It’s certainly true, but it’s vague. What does that mean? How do I do that?

This summer, Matt Reagan and Paul Poteat are the staff members giving the Evangelism Training talks. Once staff leaves this weekend, Brent Cramer, a student from Bethel and a team leader this year, will be giving the remaining talks.

During this training, we learn more about the gospel, the state of this broken and fallen world, heaven and hell, and the Biblical reasons to explicitly share our faith with people.

“I like Evangelism Training because it’s been giving me convictions about sharing my faith. I’ve always been too scared to talk to people about it, but my heart is starting to break for the lost. God uses people to spread the good news of the gospel to all nations, and he uses all believers to do so, not just a few believers with some sort of exceptional confidence,” explained one student.

After the training, the students break out in pairs and head for the beach. We simply walk around and strike up conversations with people about Jesus. Reactions certainly vary, from blatant rejection to awkward hesitancy to enthusiastic excitement about the Lord. Because we are in the ‘Bible Belt,’ people are usually willing to talk about spiritual things even if they themselves are not interested in the subject.

After spending about 45 minutes on the beach, the students meander back to Project. We break off into teams to share stories and pray for the people we encountered on the beach. Some stories are encouraging tales about meeting fellow believers and having mutually encouraging conversations about Jesus, while others are heartbreaking stories about pain, brokenness, abandonment, and complete distrust or distaste for God. It is amazing what complete strangers are willing to disclose about themselves.

Although some think evangelism on the beach is controversial, and we students can attest to the uncomfortable awkwardness, God has definitely worked through the years during beach evangelism. In fact, there have been several people who have become believers through it. Last year, a pair of students shared that they had talked to a middle-aged woman, and when they explained who they were and where they were from, her face lit up as she exclaimed, “Campus Outreach in Minnesota?! We met some of you guys last year!! Wait right here, I have to go get my husband – he became a believer after some of your group shared with him on the beach!”

What a glorious reminder that the Lord is faithful to his people and works in wonderful ways. We may never see the fruit, but God could very well be using us to plant or water (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Comment

Comment

Group Dates

At Project, we have a wonderful tradition known as group dates.

Group dates are an STP favorite for many students. The men have an opportunity to serve their sisters in Christ, and the women enjoy being served and affirming their brothers’ leadership.

The idea of a group date may seem foreign. Allow me to explain.

Firstly, a disclaimer for any alarmed parents or significant others back home: Although it’s a “date,” group dates are not romantic. They are simply a chance for girls and guys to get to know each other. One guy and one girl are not paired off on the date. The evening is filled with moments to interact with each and every member of the group.

The group date consists of one room of guys and one room of girls. Step one of a group date is the ask: The guys must come up with a clever way to formally ask the girls on the date. Remember homecoming in high school? What about prom? Guys usually asked girls to the dance in cute and clever ways. The same goes for group dates. Although there are no ‘rules’ of any kind when asking the girls on a date, often times the ask is a clue to the date itself.

Again, there is not a list of rules regarding group dates (that I’m aware of, at least). However, it seems to have become a tradition that the men surprise the girls. It is rare for the men to tell the girls what will be happening on the date. The only information we girls are privy to is the day and time of the date, and any other information that is imperative for the evening (i.e. dress up, wear athletic gear, etc).

As if being asked on a date the men have planned is not serving enough already, the guys also pay for the evening. Whether it is mini-golfing, dinner, or lazer tag, the men express their roles as leaders and brothers by paying for the girls.

Once the date is over, it’s time for the girls to serve their brothers. Within a few days of the group date, the girls are encouraged to make a ‘thank you’ for the guys. 95% of the time, the thank you is edible (we know how much the guys appreciate food). Cupcakes, brownies, and cookies are common. Again, the girls have picked up the habit of thanking the guys with a theme that matches the date. For example, last week a room of men took the girls out for ice cream at the end of the date. For the thank you, the girls baked cupcakes into ice cream cones and frosted the cupcakes to look like ice cream. Clever, no?

Group dates are a sweet opportunity to love and serve our brothers and sisters here at Project. The servant-heartedness is such a picture of Jesus for us and, of course, the dates are tons of fun! While most students discover group dates at Project, they are not exclusively a ‘Project thing.’ In fact, group dates are common for CO students during the school year. Serving and caring for one another is certainly not just for the summer, and group dates are a wonderful way to show that.

Comment

Comment

The wonderful world of Walmart

One of the barriers students typically face when deciding whether or not to come to Summer Training Project is the issue of a summer job.

But we are blessed each summer to be provided with 40-hour-a-week jobs!

Where are these jobs, you ask?

Well, over the years STP students have been stationed at a variety of locations. McDonald’s, KFC, Chick-fil-A, Krystal Burger, BI-LO grocery, and Piggly Wiggly have all been options.

This year, the vast majority of our students are stationed at our most popular job option…

Walmart.

‘Wally World,’ as some have nicknamed it, is always gracious in providing jobs for us. This year, about 50 students are at the Garden City Walmart, while another 50 are working at the Surfside Walmart. Our students make up a significant portion of their workforce each summer.

Students can be placed in nearly any department for the summer. Apparel, sporting goods, cashier, fabrics, pets, pharmacy, grocery, deli, bakery – you name it, at least one CO student is doing it.

Working anywhere for 40 hours-a-week can be challenging, and many find retail to be particularly difficult. Project is an overwhelming and busy two months, and interacting with customers who are often impatient to get out of the store and back on the beach can be challenging. It is another opportunity for us to die to ourselves in order to love and serve the customers as well as our fellow Walmart workers.

I asked a few students about their favorite parts of working at Walmart.

“It’s easily the people. I really like my coworkers. That can make or break where you work, and it’s a really sweet environment here.”

“I like working in Toys.”

“I look fantastic in blue and khaki.”

“The relationships we have built are awesome. I worked here last year and I was pumped to come back and see the people that I have been away from for nine months.”

No matter what department student are in, each individual has the opportunity to get to know Walmart coworkers. There are always sweet opportunities to show Christ’s love in caring conversation and acts of service, as well as occasions to share the gospel with our fellow Walmart employees.

It is such a blessing to have a job in general, and we are very blessed to have jobs while at the Summer Training Project. 

Comment

Comment

Bible Study Training

I’ll be honest…

When I came down to South Carolina last year for my first Summer Training Project, I basically had no idea how to study the Bible.

I grew up with Christian parents, I went to church my entire life, and I studied the Bible with my youth group throughout high school.

But when I was alone and I reached for my Bible, I was paralyzed.

Pessimistic thoughts flooded my mind:

“This book is huge.”

“How do I even start this thing? The beginning, right? Or does that matter? Do I just read and read until I get tired, or do I stop at the end of each chapter?”

“What’s the point of the Old Testament if Jesus basically voided out the law anyway?”

“I seriously cannot take another ‘and so-and-so begat so-and-so,’ or read another section on how many ‘cubits’ a tent was. This is boring and pointless.”

“Why do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all seem to say the same thing? Why didn’t they just condense all the stories that repeat themselves?”

…But I digress.

So these were some of my raw thoughts as I approached the Word of God. I had always felt ashamed to tell people that I didn’t know how to study the Bible – a good Christian girl should know how to do that. It wasn’t until Summer Training Project when someone sat me down and said, “Studying the Bible is incredibly important, so let’s break down how to do that exactly.”

Welcome to Bible Study Training.

Every Wednesday afternoon, we gather together as a Project for Bible Study Training. First, a staff member gives a talk elaborating on some aspect of the Bible. This may be expounding on the fact that the entire Bible, cover to cover, is about Jesus (yes, folks, even before He was born). Another example is clarifying the fact that Bible is ultimate authority and requires that we believe all of it or none of it.

After the talk, we collectively take a look at one of the daily verses on the calendar for that week. Because the book for the summer is Galatians, every Bible Study Training verse we study will be from Galatians.

Although it is certainly not the only way to study the Bible, Campus Outreach has found the inductive method to be very helpful.

The inductive method is comprised of three parts: Observation, Interpretation, and Application.

Let’s break that down.

Observation: What does the verse objectively say? This is where you must check your preferences at the door. Don’t infer what you know, or what you think you know. There are no assumptions during this time. For example, let’s look at John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Observations could include: God loved the world; God had a Son whom he gave; belief directly correlates to eternal life.

After observing what the text says, ask questions! Back to the example: Why did God love the world? Who was the Son? Is believing in him the only way to have eternal life? There is no such thing as a dumb question, especially when you really want to dig into the text.

Interpretation: Now is the time to start bringing in what you know from the rest of the Bible. It’s also time to answer as many of your questions as you can. Example: Who was the Son? We can interpret from other verses (John 10:30, Matthew 3:17, and Matthew 17:5 to name a few) that Jesus was the Son of God.

Application: As we read through the Word of God, and the gospel is rooted deeper and deeper within our hearts, our lives should be changing as well. Application is the opportunity to think of a practical way the text can affect our lives on a daily basis. We attempt to have applications that are M.A.T. – Measurable, Attainable, and Timely. Saying, “My application is that I want to be a better person,” is pretty vague and doesn’t require mulling over and internalizing scripture. It would be more helpful to say, referring back the example, “In light of the fact that God loves the world so much that he sent his only son to die for us, I want to do acts of service today for those around me. Not because I will get brownie points with God, but because I am fully loved by him and want to extend that love to others.”

If you have no idea how to study the Bible, you’re certainly not alone. Don’t give up in frustration or embarrassment or whatever is keeping you from the Word of God. Ask someone! Study with a friend! Try the inductive! But do something, because the Bible is God’s gift to us and through it we get to know more about the Son of Man who rescued us.

Comment

Comment

So, I'm in this thing called a 'D Group'....?

Every Tuesday night is set aside for D Group.

But what’s a D Group, you ask?

Good question.

Different ministries and churches use different terms: small group, prayer group, accountability group – the list goes on.

We have D Groups.

The ‘D’ stands for Discipleship. Campus Outreach is a life-on-life ministry in which we strive to know more of Jesus and grow as a community by walking through daily life together, pressing into each others’ lives, and pointing each other to the cross of Christ.

Every D Group, whether at Project or back on the campuses in Minnesota, has a D Group leader. At home, the D Group leader is usually whichever Campus Outreach staff member is on the campus. If there are more D Groups than the staff member has a capacity for, leadership primarily falls to older students in the ministry.

At Project, roommates are in a D Group together. The room leader also serves as the D Group leader. It’s an opportunity to grow together as roommates, friends, and fellow believers in Christ. Life-on-life discipleship is especially sweet when you literally live life together every day.

The first night of D Groups on Project are traditionally the ‘testimony night.’ Each person in the room has the opportunity to tell his or her story. Students can share as much or as little as they are comfortable with. Some are contented sharing twenty minutes worth of information, while others take hours to share their testimony. Both are wonderful to hear, and testimony night is helpful for students to dive into vulnerability and get to know one another on a deeper level.

After the first week, the remainder of D Groups during Project look a little different from room to room. Each room is comprised of unique students, and room dynamics vary, resulting in different needs for different rooms. Regardless of the goings-on in each room, D Group is a sweet opportunity to intentionally spend time as a room, speak Truth into each other’s lives, and help each other know more of Jesus.

And knowing more of Jesus is ultimately the point of….well, everything.

Comment

Comment

Time to get Social

          STP sync swim socialThursday nights are a special time at Project. The weeks are packed with work and trainings, and it’s not uncommon for students to burnout.

But Thursdays are different.

Thursdays are rejuvenating.

Thursdays are socials.

Project socials are weekly opportunities for students to spend time with each other on some sort of crazy adventure or embarrassing escapade. Let me give an example: Last week was this summers’ first Project social. Each room was told to dress its room leader as a Disney character. There were standard results – a prince here, a fairy there – and there were also those who thought a bit more outside the box, like Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast and a paper boy from the Newsies.

Dressing up like characters from our childhood (who am I kidding, we all still watch Disney movies) was simply step one. Next, all 110 college students marched half a mile down the Myrtle Beach boardwalk, 40 of us still fully Disney-fied, to play an 18-hole round of mini-golf. Did people stare? Of course. Did we care? Nah. The confused looks on people's faces adds to the fun.

That was merely one example of a Project social. I asked around to students who have attended at least one Project before to find out which social was the favorite. Three popular responses were Synchronized Swimming, Boat Social, and Broadway Scavenger Hunt.

Let's start with Synchronized Swimming. Throughout the summer, rooms of guys take rooms of girls on group dates (that’s a blog for another day), and Synchronized Swimming is a chance to mix it up. First, the rooms of men have to create a synchronized routine to perform in the pool in front of all the ladies at Project. One female room in particular will be deciding if the routine was ‘worthy of a group date,’ which they always are. The room of girls will then take those men on a group date they have previously planned. This social is always hilarious, and girls love the opportunity to plan a group date, which is a task the men usually take on to bless their sisters.

Another crowd-pleaser is the Boat Social….literally, a crowd of passers-by gathered last year to see what on earth was going on. The different teams on Project break up and plan a skit to perform for the rest of the Project. Here’s the twist: the scene must involve some sort of boat, whether it be a ship, a raft, a steamboat, or a canoe. This boat must be crafted within the allotted two hour period, and the finished product must stay afloat from one end of the pool to the other, while at least one student stays on board at all times. Not your average skit anymore, is it?

That leaves us with the Broadway Scavenger Hunt. In the heart of Myrtle Beach lies a magical place called Broadway at the Beach. I would deem it as a cross between Mall of America and Disney World, but on a much smaller scale, of course. There are countless restaurants, shops, and random attractions scattered throughout the designated area. The social we have come to love is the scavenger hunt in this chaotic environment. Again, we have a twist: the hunt is not just for items, but for people. While groups are attempting to find and take pictures with countless items on the list, students are walking around as ‘bonus points’ if they are found. And let me tell you, the bonus is well worth the hunt. About 20 students from the CCP team dress up in any way they want (hats, sunglasses, fake uniforms, and dyed hair are all fair game) and can walk around as we search for them. If your group spots one, you discretely walk over, ask for the token, and they hand over a small golden medallion. The group with the most points at the end wins.

So that is a glimpse into Thursday nights at Summer Training Project. Socials are wild, a bit crazy, usually embarrassing, and often some of the most fun memories students have at STP. If you want to know more, ask students you know about their favorite socials. And as always, entertaining pictures of our adventures will be posted throughout the summer!

Comment

Comment

What's a Theme?

CO-Logo2013

Every year the Summer Training Project is structured around a theme and corresponding Bible verse. Past themes have included Known, At All Costs, Awake, and Exiles. So what purpose does the theme really serve, and what is the theme for STP 2013? Great questions. Don’t worry, I won’t leave you in suspense or keep you guessing. The theme for Summer Training Project 2013 is ….

….FREE!

Yes, “Free.” The book we are digging into this summer is Galatians, written by the Apostle Paul. We want to explore what the Bible says about living in freedom because of the gospel of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Our theme verse, Galatians 5:1, says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” So…what does that mean?

Christ did not die on the cross, taking on all our sins forever, so that we would feel burdened or shackled by anything. Because of Christ, we are guiltless. We don’t need to work for our salvation; we could not possibly do anything to add to the finished work of God himself dying on the cross. This summer, we want to explore what it means to live in light of this Biblical truth.

The CO staff has created a calendar of daily Bible studies for the next two months. Galatians, a book broken into 6 chapters, has been broken into nine weeks worth of daily devotions, including one memory verse per week. Needless to say, students will have plenty of opportunity to mull over and deeply engage what the Lord has to say in this book.

In addition to Bible study, the theme each summer acts as a framework for the four weekly trainings. These include Theme Training, Evangelism Training, Bible Study Training and Life Training. So far, we have had a Theme Training titled “The God who is Free,” an Evangelism Training called “Free-King Out!” and “Free Time” as our first Life Training. See a trend? The theme will be pervasive in all trainings this summer.

There are so many things we would love to be set free from: anxiety, pain, fear, burden, stress, peer-pressure, addiction, brokenness, grief – the list goes on. This summer, we are praying the Lord works in our hearts to set us free from these things as we learn more about who Jesus is, what he has done for us, and what that means on a daily basis for believers in Christ.

Comment

Comment

The Start of Project

It’s been a week since the leaders’ caravan rolled out of the Bethlehem Baptist parking lot, cars packed with excited students ready to head down to the Summer Training Project. Since then, the leaders have worked hard cleaning, unpacking, and preparing the Aquarius Motel to feel like home. We loved spending time getting to know each other and grow as a team before the disciples arrived, but everyone was growing in anticipation and excitement as Friday drew near. The first car from the disciples’ caravan came cruising in mid-afternoon on Friday. They were ambushed with loud cheering, signs and dancing. Needless to say, everyone was a bit over stimulated and overwhelmed.

A few hours and countless introductions later, the students all headed over to the church across the street for the first rally. We flooded through the doors, welcomed by a high-energy CO staff team and a pump-up dance to the Cupid Shuffle.

Mike Polley gave the first talk of the summer. Our theme for this year is “Free,” and we will be digging deeper into the book of Galatians. Polley walked us through the main verse for the summer: Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” We are set free so that we may walk by faith in freedom, not in slavery to the law. It will be sweet to see how God works in students’ lives through the wonderful truths about Jesus Christ found in Galatians.

Every Project is different of course, but this year is particularly different for several reasons, one being the change in location. Our summer home, previously located in Garden City Beach, is now in Myrtle Beach. The area is much more populated and, of course, tourist-y. There are countless souvenir stores, restaurants, and coffee shops within walking distance from Project, which is definitely different from Garden City Beach. There is even a 187-foot Ferris Wheel a block away from us! So there are plenty of options for socials, group dates, and general hang out spots this summer.

The norm for Project is to be crazy busy and have tons of exhausting fun, but the first few days are always crazier than most. As this week continues on, students will have the opportunity to spend relational time with their roommates, schoolmates, and other brothers and sisters in Christ. There will be a lot of information to take in and plenty of new names to remember, but as the week passes and people settle in, Project will feel more and more like a home away from home.

Comment