Ever since Ali and I moved to Orlando, we’ve been involved with the college students at our church. Since this past September, we have lived within reasonable walking distance of UCF, the largest university in the country by undergrad enrollment.
For scale, I grew up in Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee. UCF is twice as large by undergrad enrollment. While UCF couldn’t fill Neyland Stadium to capacity, they could easily do so for any Major League Baseball stadium. In other words, we’re talking about a big school.
While there are several existing ministries on campus, they are all relatively small compared to the total size of the student body. It is a very fertile mission field with plenty of room for more evangelism and discipleship to be done.
In our five years here, we’ve seen students come to Christ, grow in Christ, and transition to adults with full time jobs living for Christ. It has been a joy to watch,and we hope to see it happen more and more.
Back in the fall, I reached out to our leadership at One Hope Church about developing the college ministry. With their encouragement and endorsement of our elders, I am seeking to formalize and further establish our ministry to college, as well as high school students in East Orlando.
So far this summer, I’ve been working on several projects. First, I am putting together a team within our church to offer mentoring and discipleship to UCF students within our church and that come as classes begin (summer B began today). This will eventually be a way of offering mentors to all of the students we are connected with, not just those that come to our church.
Second, we’ve been leading a summer community group and opening our home in various ways to the students we are seeking to reach and mentor. We’ve had movie nights for recently graduated students I taught and are seeking to figure out how we can use the space we’ve been blessed with more effectively.
Third, we’re in the planning stages for discipleship and Christian education at our church. Given the size and age of our church (and that we’ve recently become independent from a larger church movement), we are in need of a systematic approach to discipleship and mentoring church-wide. As I’m responsible for developing a plan for the 18-25 year olds, it will also mean being involved in initiatives that effect the rest of the church.
Lastly, Ali and I are developing a plan for continued ministry to alumni from the high school that I teach at part time. We want to maintain the relationships we can with those staying here in Florida, especially those students going to UCF and UNF. Right now, we are planning to establish regular gatherings for alumni staying in Orlando and at least a trip once a semester to meet up with those students in Jacksonville (UNF) as well as possibly Gainesville (UF). I was the Bible teacher for this current class of 2016 all four years they were in high school, and I’d like to continue to shepherd well in this important time.
In order for me to have more time for student outreach and for Ali to be more involved than she already has been, we have felt God’s call to step out in faith, pursue full-time ministry, and begin the support raising process. You may notice that many of the things I listed above involve mainly myself. That is because Ali works full-time, and is involved as much as she can be, but has always had a desire to do more. We are seeking to create some flexibility so that she doesn’t have to work full-time and can begin more aggressively discipling and mentoring many of these students God has placed in her life.
While we are looking for people to partner with us in ministry using their time, talents, and treasures, we are mainly in need of the latter at the moment. I opted to not get a summer job so that I could focus on planning for the fall semester and beginning to raise support. This Friday will be the second payday that I miss a check, so we are starting to feel the need in this area.
I am planning to write here more regularly on some of the vision for what we’re doing. In the next few weeks or so, we’ll launch a separate website for the ministry itself. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, you can do that below, either using the form, or by commenting. I am looking forward to sharing more about what God is doing and ask that you pray for us as we pursue what we feel God is leading to do!