The Gospel Coalition hosted a workshop during the 2018 Women’s Conference titled “University and Beyond: Discipling Students for a Lifetime with Christ” with Aimee Joseph, Kori Porter, Danielle Sallade, and Shar Walker. The panel discussed the importance of intentional discipleship that prepares college students to follow Christ long after their university days are behind them. They addressed key elements of discipleship, teaching versus sharing, content and context of relational discipleship, biblical literacy, glorifying Christ through their studies, apologetics, facing cultural issues with a biblical worldview, and a number of other topics regarding best practices for leading college students into deep, lasting relationship with Christ.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Danielle Sallade: I know that at this point in the conference schedule, you have already taken in quite a lot. And I know that for many of you, you have left at home people or situations that maybe you’re thinking about in between the plenary sessions or in the downtime. So as we begin these workshops, I thought it might be nice to just pause for a moment together to pray for the people that we have left behind at home and lift up any concerns we might have so that we can focus fully here and on the people around us and on the wonderful topics we’re going to hear about this afternoon. So join me in prayer.
Heavenly father, thank you so much for the opportunity to be at this conference. Lord, we thank you for the organizers and all of the people participating just to make it happen. We thank you for traveling mercies for all of us from so many different places, we thank you for financial provision to be here and we thank you for loved ones that have made it possible for some of us to be here. Thank you for spouses at home encouraging us to come, thank you for ones taking care of kids in our absence.
Thank you for kids who are happy to see us leave in a good way. Thank you for those who might be filling in taking care of other loved ones that we care for normally. Father, you know some of us are really thinking a lot about people back at home or situations back at home. Father, please watch over these people, watch over these situations and help us to know that you are with them and you are with us. Help us to rest in you and father, may we fully focus on everything you have for us at this conference for the rest of the time. Father, by your spirit, teach us things we need to learn, show us areas where we need to grow or change.
Father, help us to deepen relationships with other people that we’re here with or meeting and finally, Lord, help us to worship you. Thank you for the chance to talk about college students for the next hour. Oh Lord, we dedicate this time to you equip us and use us for your glory in Jesus name, amen.
Danielle Sallade: Well again, thank you for coming out. My name is Danielle Sallade and I have the privilege of moderating this panel. I’m excited for all of you to hear from the women up here with me. We’re going to very quickly introduce ourselves, our bios, we know you have our bios so we won’t repeat all of it. But we want to just begin our time by telling you the context in which we are serving and then also very briefly our heart for college students.
Before we do that, it would help us to know a little bit about some of you. Can I just ask quickly how many of you are in campus ministry, would you raise your hand? Okay, great. How many of you serve at churches where there are a lot of college students who come? Wonderful. How many of you are parents of college students? How many of you are college students? Great. Okay. Wonderful. Well I know if you’re here, you love, sorry?
Danielle Sallade: Teachers, oh yes, professors. I should’ve thought of that. Right here, anybody else? Oh, fabulous. Okay. Sorry, thank you. Yes. Well, thank you. I know you’re here because you love students. So hopefully we will encourage one another in loving them. Well again, my name is Danielle, I work at Princeton University. I’ve been in campus ministry there for 20 years now and I work with students, discipling them through Bible studies through one-on-one mentoring times called personal hours through many large group interactions.
I have a particular heart for college age students because I myself grew so much. It was a pivotal time in my life where I was blessed with wonderful leaders who really impacted me. And so as I moved on into life and was choosing what to do, what a privilege I thought it would be to pour back into college students myself. So that’s just a little about me and I’m thrilled to share with you more as we go. Let me hand it to Aimee.
Aimee Joseph: My name is Aimee Joseph and my husband and I work with college students on the West Coast in San Diego, California. So our role has shifted over the years from more student facing to a little bit more staff development facing, but we have college students that are in and out of our home probably three nights a week. So we’re still around the college students a lot.
And similar story in the sense of, I was not raised in a Christian home and came to faith through young life at the very end of high school, but knew nothing, knew nothing about anything and grew to love God’s word, was trained in evangelism discipleship all through college ministries. And so as soon as that happened, I was like, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.
Kori Porter: Hi guys. So my name is Kori Porter. I’m originally from Oxford, Mississippi and when I was at the university of Mississippi, right before my freshman year, two campus ministers gave me the gospel. So it totally transformed the trajectory of my life. So with that in mind, when I start to go to seminary, I started to think about job opportunities, I was like, what is my first love and it’s college students, right? And so God gave me the opportunity to work at a couple of churches and then now I’m at a parachurch ministry that works at Princeton University, separate of Danielle, but in the same space with Danielle.
Shar Walker: My name is Shar Walker and I also serve on staff at campus outreach but on the East Coast, so complete opposite end of the country in Lynchburg, Virginia. So I became a Christian my freshman year of college and honestly, that probably is where the heart for college students began because similarly, I think probably one of the most pivotal times in my life, not just in terms of redemption but definitely in being developed and established in the faith and just saw godly examples of different women and who were single, who were married across the board. So yeah, I love, love, love college students. I love the energy and the excitement that they bring to pretty much everything. So, yes. For me, they keep me young.
Danielle Sallade: So we have prepared some questions just based on our shared expertise. I’ll ask those questions first of the panel and I’ll watch the time and then after a few moments, we’ll open it up for questions from you all. So make sure there’s plenty of time for that. Okay. So first question is for Shar and here it is, what does intentional discipleship look like in your ministry and what would you say are the key components and why are they essential for this age group for college students?
Shar Walker: Yeah. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the phrase in terms of teaching that things are caught not taught. But I think sometimes with discipleship for me, it’s both and things have been both caught and taught. So there’s an element of my discipleship that has been more taking your students along with you and inviting them into your life and even simple things like taking a student to go to the grocery store with you or to cook a meal. I had one student she’s a Christian now and walking with the Lord, but I remember we built a relationship because we saw a movie at The Dollar Theater pretty much every weekend for months on end and we developed a friendship.
But there are elements of discipleship that I think are just the nature of walking and sharing life together. And then there’s also the element of it that’s more intentional and more thoughtful and I think that’s the parts that are more taught. And those are the seasons where there are some weeks I, usually I would meet with students one-on-one every week in a more formal sense and we’re going through some element of content, studying the Bible, praying.
Many of the students I was discipling, they just became Christians during college. So I feel like my discipleship has mostly been very foundational things that the faith, why is community essential, how do you share the gospel, those kinds of things. Reading your Bible, praying, et cetera. So those have been my experience for discipleship. I don’t know if you guys would add?
Kori Porter: Say the question again [inaudible].
Danielle Sallade: Oh, sure. Just what are the key elements of discipleship?
Kori Porter: Yeah, I think I’m with Shar, I didn’t understand that discipleship was two fold. When I came to faith, like I said, two ministers gave me the gospel, they were actually men. And so because of that dynamic of gender, I was more taught in the word than I was life on life. And so when I became a campus minister, I was like, I take a girl where, I do what with her? I didn’t know how to interact with her in a personal informal way, right? And if you’re really going to invest with someone and really built their heart with the scripture, you have to invest in her life also.
And so for me, it was a real conviction when does I read scripture and Paul says, “I loved you so much, I gave my very life to you.” And so for me in discipleship, it is two fold, like you said, Shar. So I definitely back what she’s saying.
Danielle Sallade: Yeah. Great. Thank you. Aimee, we know that a lot of discipleship involves building relationships, making space for women to be known. How do you balance teaching God’s word with listening and speaking into the life, the issues your women bring up for counsel? And getting practical, how do you structure the time that you have for your discipleship meetings?
Aimee Joseph: Yeah. I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, but when you get a small group of women in the room together, there’s a pull towards the subjective and that’s not wrong. I think initially, I’m such an objective, I love truth, I love the word, I tended to overvalue maybe the objective and kind of, oh, that’s just fluff with the subjective. But it’s a balance of the both content and context, right? Subjective and objective that there is an experiential element, especially with the younger generations, being seen and being heard.
But one of the things that I do just structurally is at the beginning of our groups, I usually have us pray through confession or pray through adoration or pray through the names of Jesus or the different life stages of Jesus or whatever to say from the beginning, hey, this is ultimately about him and sometimes we connect with each other rather than just sharing, which there’s a time for that. But sometimes I’ll intentionally say, we’re not connecting today, we’re going to connect directly with the Lord and we’re going to connect with each other through that. So we’re going to be very caught up in each other when we confess our sins, right? And we’re also going to talk about the silly stuff, right? We’re going to do that. That’s important.
So I think that’s significant and then I think I said this last night on our one-to-one discipleship panel, but I think the always having opening the word with them, is really significant because I think otherwise there’s a pull towards relying on self personality, experience, wisdom, their self, their personality, their experience, their wisdom rather than the scriptures. And so it’s a both and, it’s not an either or, but I think one has to have priority and so that they know that this is what this is about ultimately, and I am a part of it. It’s not about me, it’s about him, but it involves me and it includes my story.
So I think that, and then the storyline stuff has been very helpful in our discipleship towards that end of he is the hero, he’s the main character of this story. Your part is significant, but it’s not about you, my friend especially in the younger generation. So…
Danielle Sallade: That’s good.
Kori Porter: Yeah. I think another practical, so when I’m sitting down with a student and we’re doing a one-on-one, what do I start with? How do I even talk with her about God, how we get there? I think it depends on her maturity level, to be honest, how you enter into the conversation. To your point, it needs to be rooted in scripture, it needs to be rooted in the wisdom of God first and foremost. I’m a little fundamentalist about this. I don’t use a lot of secondary literature to be honest, I actually opened the texts because our voice, how powerful it is at that young age and that’s great that we get to form them, but you have to be careful because eventually your voice will become mute. Whatever stage of life to get into, whatever circumstances they have, they won’t have access to you 24/7, but they will to God’s word.
If they haven’t learned to trust it with your care and your guidance, you can become a situation where your many God in their life. So for me, I’m definitely with you at opening the scripture and getting them to understand that God word is what gives them life and brings them to them. But I also look at three ways in which I actually approached them that are categories, the soul. What is going on within your soul? What are you wrestling with right now, the depths of with you and God? Is it a family issue where you don’t understand how he’s right and he’s good in that issue? Another thing I do is the body. Now this comes into how you’re caring for yourself and health. We at Princeton and students take their body to the limit and they have several consequences before that. So I’m always asking, how are you eating?
How are you feeling today? What stress level do you feel like you’re have? And because stress levels also open the students up to more and more sin levels, right? And so if you’re stressed here, then your body may naturally want an immediate gratification and so you’ll see your levels of pornography watching go up or you see masturbation go up or you see anorexia go up because the girl is so overwhelmed because she’s not caring for her soul. And then lastly, our students are academics. And so I never create this dichotomy, I’ve heard it once that you are your Christian first and a student second. And I just think that’s a horrible advice.
God has given these women four years to educate themselves and they should be able to do that with excellence. So how do you take your studies seriously as you glorify Christ? So those are the three areas. Again, I go soul, body and I go mind and I’m trying to get them. And they don’t know that I’m using this formula and I may bounce around to different areas, but I’m always keeping track. So next time I follow up with them, we can actually have somewhere that I’m going. I’ll know what did she say about her soul last time, what did she say about her mind?
Shar Walker: Yeah, I would say additionally for the Bible study context, a really good practical, especially if the girls don’t know one another is to have, in their all believers, each week maybe one person shared their testimony, like how they came to faith. So you’re just built into the structure of the Bible study, you’re creating a context for them to get to know one another and for you to get to know them as well. In the one-on-one, I feel like I do similar things. Someone, I don’t know who coined this term, maybe someone in CO, but they called it the power hour and they structured their one-on-one times with students to be the first 20 minutes is that shepherding or care for them, the next 20 minutes is time and God’s word and the last 20 minutes are spent like prayer and supplication or adoration, any of those elements of prayer.
But it just gives you a little bit of a structure to go in with. Although then there are times where you have this great thing planned out you’re going to talk about and a student is like, “Oh my gosh,” yeah, exactly. And the Holy spirit just changes your plans right there. So, we hold them loosely in other words.
Danielle Sallade: Yes. Well, that leads to this next question about biblical literacy particularly among students today. All of the social metrics out there are telling us that biblical literacy is always decreasing and it’s particularly low right now with current generations of students. So how are we communicating the importance of God’s word of knowing it, of believing it, of applying it to our lives? How are you all doing that? Direct this first toward, sorry, Shar, this was for you. You prepared this, but then I’ll jump in.
Shar Walker: Yeah, I think this goes definitely for more Bible studies that are with believers, but I’m going to gear it a little bit more to evangelist type of Bible studies, because a lot of the students that at least the campus I was at are from, this is an observation, often the ones from the Northern part of the country have a little less biblical literacy or context for scripture. So this past year, my evangelistic Bible studies were dummy-proof, I’m not kidding.
I made them, they were 25 minutes tops. Sometimes they were 20 minutes and I would tell the girls, hey guys, I would love to invite you into investigating what the scriptures have to do at your life, would you commit to doing this for four weeks, for 20 minutes? And I tell them, because they’re not believers, I’m like, you don’t have to change anything about your life right now, because I think that’s one of the biggest fears. In this time, what I’m trying to do in a lot of ways is a lot of them feel like, how does the Bible relate to me, is this relevant? And I want to create a context that shows them, this is how God’s word is relevant to your life.
We typically look at one passage or one scripture and we’ll have one main point. So that’s why I say it’s very simple, very accessible, but you have them in God’s word where I’m just trying not to overload them with it. And also making it engaging is helpful where it’s a bit more of a conversation versus a sermon or a monologue to them about it. So those are a few of things, especially in just more of the evangelistic type of context because I feel like those might be a little bit different than Bible studies.
Kori Porter: Yeah. I definitely agree with that. That’s really good. I didn’t think about, I think sometimes I have these high expectations and goals that are lofty that sometimes I personally feel a little bit, not okay with lowering my expectations, but to your point, it’s allowing them to be able to actually consume whereas if we, I think we put the lofty goal too high, we’re not actually ministering to the people that God has called us to. For me, I feel like what I had to do was understand the redemptive narrative myself before I tried to teach little sections of the Bible in systematic ways.
And so the easiest way women to do this and be very honest, is it to take a children’s Bible and read through it, just take the children’s Bible and read through it. You get a grand narrative of the gospel from Genesis to Revelation. So when you’re in Romans and he makes a call from the old Testament about Abraham, you may not know all the stories of Abraham, but you remember, oh, he was the husband of Sarah. Oh yeah, he did have a son Isaac, right? And so it connects dots for you just in a really touchpoint way and I get my students involved in the grand narrative.
So once they understand the big picture, you give it to them as a movie or a plot or some type of story, they’re able to more make connection dots to it and so they’re not lost in the text or not really knowing what’s going on. The last thing that I do is also, I try to make sure they understand there’s two translations when you read a second Timothy 3:16, one is, is God breathe and one is it God inspired? And the actual right translation is that the God’s word is God’s breath. And when the students actually realize that this is the actual voice of God speaking to them, you guys, they are in awe because they start to anticipate him speaking to them in the text.
So I think it’s actually seen at meta as this ancient antiquated data of books, but actually the living word actually coming to them and helping them with their understanding this world and to getting relief and to knowing Christ more sweeter.
Aimee Joseph: Yeah. And I would echo the redemptive narrative, the whole meta narrative a good book, I think you maybe have read it, but God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts, is great in that it goes through the theme of kingdom and just gives you an overarching structure. And especially in San Diego, we’re dealing with students who have, in fact funny story my husband was sharing with when we first moved to San Diego and he was like, “I’m not going to get the bookends wrong. I’m going to start at sin, I’ve got to start at creation.” And so he’s talking about Adam and Adam and the guy stops him is like, “Who’s Adam? Is Adam your friend, is Adam your staff guy?”
And he’s like, “How do you do this out here? How do you share the gospel when they don’t even know who Adam is? They don’t even know what Genesis is.” And so that the meta narrative thing has been huge for us of the synthesis is significant. So synthesis the big picture, what’s the whole of the thing. And then Jesus, so they have a concept. So they have an eye down towards the scripture and then an eye up towards why is this important that we’re studying the book of Ephesians? Why are we digging into this? And then I think not avoiding the old Testament is significant. Once you get that and you can’t do that with a freshman at San Diego State, but you can do that when they’ve walked with God for a few years of helping them see Jesus in the old Testament.
So the Jesus storybook Bible is great, especially for nonbelievers because it’s just that, he’s the hero, he’s the… And then we try to teach our students through the lens of creation, fall, redemption, restoration, the four chapter gospel and I think that helps baby steps towards a Christian worldview. Okay. So gender confusion in our culture, let’s talk about that creation, fall, redemption, restoration. How did God intend the world to be? And so I just think giving them a paradigm like that is a helpful beginning place for biblical literacy.
Danielle Sallade: Yes, we definitely have a different approach depending on if it’s a seeker or someone who’s coming with a strong background already. But we go into this discipleship with a program in mind of what would happen if we had a student for four years. And so in the Bible study, so every student if they’re fully participating would be in a class Bible study by gender with a leader, and then that leader would also offer to meet with each person in the Bible study one-on-one for that mentoring time throughout the week.
And the Bible studies for the freshmen it’s looking at a gospel, who is Jesus, and what did he do? So studying a gospel for the entire year. Sophomore year is the drama of redemption from Genesis to Revelation giving the big picture of the whole Bible from beginning to end. Junior year is the book of Ephesians, God’s call that we belong to him in Christ, but we also belong to a new people. We’re part of a people, the church. What does that mean? What is our life to look like in community with others? And then senior year an emphasis on God’s heart for social concern from the old Testament, looking at all kinds of topics like money, justice and roles of men and women, and also things preparing them for beyond graduation. Everything from relationships to work, to giving, to how to find a church, how to be in a church.
And in that one-on-one time, we use the book of Romans. So Shar’s description of 20/20/20 with plenty of time for personal interaction in life counsel also week by week, going through the book of Romans and connecting it to whatever is going on in their lives. Sometimes there’s no direct connection, but so often whatever we’re studying in the book of Romans, the student is realizing, oh, yes, this is speaking to what I’m going through right now. So that’s just a snapshot of an idea of a program of how to build in biblical literacy to our students right now.
I want to switch gears a little bit and ask my colleagues a question about current college students. So I’ll direct this toward Kori but all of us can jump in. How would you characterize the current generation of college students? What do they get easily about the gospel and what is challenging for them? So, Kori start us off.
Kori Porter: That’s a lofty question. Wow. I mean, the current college student would be categorized as a millennial. And so I think oftentimes when you see millennial 18 I think it’s 18, actually to 34. So many of us are fit in that category up here, but 18 to 21 who we were probably ministering to. I feel like there are social change agents. They naturally get advocacy, they naturally are inspirational, they want to make a difference in this world. But the sad thing about that is, is that they are the most unchurched generation. And so while they have this inner calling to actually do something and make the world a better place, they have no guidance into how to do that.
They have no authority, no ultimate voice telling them this is right and good. So everybody’s left up to their own devices to figure out how they feel the world should look if sexual ethics, dealing with race, dealing with different money topics and social discrimination. So just depending on where the student is or what the student upbringing is actually surfaces what their rally cry is. And so that’s unfortunate because what they get about the gospel is that even our church are unchurched, I think they do get that Jesus loves or Jesus saves, right? But the reason why that is somewhat cheapened is because they don’t understand the holiness of God. And that there’s a holy God who has a holy reference about himself and there is no way on this earth to be reconciled with him without a costly price.
And because the students don’t get that, they scream Jesus all the time or they say, oh, Jesus is good and they’re willing to identify themselves with him, but they’re not actually making Jesus the Lord over their life and in their decisions. And so to me, it becomes a lot about self promotion or a lot about what I think is right in this time. And no matter what your understanding or background is, you have 18 years of life. So, I mean, you don’t have your eternal perspective given to you by the wise counsel of God, you’re going to make folly decisions.
So to me, a current college student gets that the gospel is something that is good in some way, but they don’t actually get or understand how to actually utilize it and make it a part of their life, make it a part of the ideology that they actually walk in, if that makes sense.
Shar Walker: Okay. Yeah, what’s beautiful about college students is they do oftentimes have this zeal. I think the element of the social aspect that seems to be in the DNA of a lot of college students today is they’re probably in generations in the past that might’ve been absent in a care for the marginalized, a care for the oppressed. Those are very admirable things and in the same time, more in the same vein, I mean more of a generational thing. With millennials, I think sometimes there can be a difficulty committing to one thing, which I think could easily transfer into your faith, being committed to your faith.
And there can almost be, I think in the social media age and all that stuff, lessening of just the slow, steady faithfulness every day of walking with Jesus and not these grand juror like, I went to, I can’t think of [inaudible]. Yeah, like you did all these things for the Lord but I’m like, I think honestly, just waking up in the morning, walking with Jesus, working your job faithfully and taking care of your family, that’s very honoring to the Lord. You know what I mean?
Aimee Joseph: So that’s what I was going to say. I think that the flash and the experience are great draws initially, and they are. But if you’re coming to Christ because of a flash and a draw and an experience, that’s not going to send you to hard places to lay down your life and that’s not going to send you through cancer. And so I think a lack of the theology of suffering is really high in our people and entitlement is really high. There’s also, I mean, I’m just saying the hard things, but there’s also beautiful things.
But I think one of the things that I try to press in and because I’m a mom it’s easier to do is a long obedience in the same direction. This is how we walk with God day in and day out, it’s not always flashy. So I think an intimacy with God that goes beyond information is significant because they’re so experiencial, they get that. But that connecting the disciplines to experience that we experienced God’s through the disciplines because they only want to, and we talk a lot about duty desire and delight that if they don’t feel delight, they will go straight to disobedience.
And so creating a grid again, because maybe the generations before us were so focused on duty, that our culture has over swung so far to only if I feel it as it real. And so we creating that structure around it that says, sometimes we want to, sometimes we love God’s word and sometimes we do it because it’s what we do. And they feed into each other, but you cannot just jump from delight to disobedience. There’s a space for duty. And I think showing them the liturgy of the ordinary and inviting them into how do we see a God-breathed universe, right? Like God is here and he’s in this and he cares about this. And so, yeah, I long obedience in the same direction is.
Danielle Sallade: All of you mentioned a passion for social change and identification with the marginalized. So these would be really praiseworthy things. It’s really exciting to be able to say, look at these old Testament passages in the profits, do you see that our God actually feels the same way you do about social change and social justice? So those are two good things you mentioned. Can you think of anything else that you would say is beautiful or praiseworthy that you would mention of this generation of college students?
Aimee Joseph: I think authenticity almost to a fault. But they are not afraid to be broken. And a quick draw to the broken and the beautiful and I think that they’re much quicker to admit their brokenness and their need. And I think they understand maybe because of the Tim Keller suite through the church, I think they’re beginning to understand sin is more than things we do, but really the idols of our heart. So I think they’re really good at those things.
Shar Walker: Yeah. I would say, especially for a lot of the students I know who have become in college, who didn’t grow up in a Christian home, when they do come to faith, there is a beautiful excitement about God’s word, about who he is. It really it’s amazing to see someone go from spiritual death to spiritual life because they actually look like they’re spiritually alive now. And one of the greatest privileges for me is getting to see the Lord vibrantly change students’ lives. And he does it, the college campus just because it feels a little more sped up, it happens quickly versus maybe when you get out of college and you’re probably ministering a little bit more in the local church.
But I think there is a sense of, I like that students are often excited about their faith, not all the time, but honestly, when they are, it spurs me on to want to be that way too. So…
Aimee Joseph: Yeah. Great. Great insights. Okay, so I’ll direct this one towards Shar, but then of course everyone can jump in. What do you believe are the biggest mistakes current students are making with technology and social media, but on the flip side, where do you see it being used for good? And how do you advise students?
Shar Walker: Yeah, I can hear by the giggles that this is obviously a good question. Yeah, I mean, I’ll go on the record of saying, I really like social media and I really like technology. So I’m not a basher by any means of the form itself. But I would say this as a caution to college students and probably everyone else as well, just because social media and technology are amoral does not mean they’re powerless. And I was talking to Melissa Kruger, we were flying back from a thing in Colorado and she was saying her generation, she has kids in high school, I think even about to go to college, she was like, we really didn’t know a lot of the effects of the social media and the cell phone and all that because it was just happening.
Our generation does not have that excuse. We cannot plead ignorance and I think my biggest fear with students is that we would educate and learn the effects of it, but completely ignore that and just go, we just don’t put up. I guess my caution would be, don’t be foolish to not put up appropriate boundaries especially with social media and to guard your heart and your walk with the Lord as it relates to that specifically. Because even when we think, oh, it doesn’t affect me, it’s one, I just spent two hours scrolling on Instagram, it’s no big deal. I do think those things actually do affect our soul maybe even more than we realize at the time.
So I would just say use it to God’s glory, be cautious as we use it. I’ve used it to meet students. Like if I’m meeting a student and I can’t particularly remember what they look like, it’s been a great way to remind myself, okay, this is what they look like, this is where they’re from, those kinds of things. So I’ve seen it used positively and for God’s glory but again, I feel like appropriate boundaries might need to be set in place to protect ourselves spiritually even. There’s so much that could be said on this topic. [crosstalk].
Aimee Joseph: I mean, I think one way I like social media is one of the hard things for me about college ministry is turnover. We disciple and we pour into these women and we love them and then they go off, which is part of why college ministry so strategic, right? They’re going to be influencers and gospel pacesetters in the nursing world and the teaching world and overseas. But it’s really hard to keep up with them. So I have loved that. It gives it a casual, there’s a depth to our relationship, but I don’t get to see these people. I haven’t seen most of them in five, six, seven, eight years. So I love that in the sense of harnessing continued relational networks and keeping up with people.
But I agree boundaries are huge. And I think boundaries start external before they move internal and they feel rigid before they feel natural. And so yeah, I don’t know exactly how to play that out, I know what we do with our children, but I don’t know how maybe practicals of how that would play out on campus.
Kori Porter: Yeah, that’s good. I definitely see the positive of social media. I personally abstain from social media just because it feels a bit overwhelming to always be connected. I’m a strong introvert. So I need my downtime to be away a little bit. So it’s to constantly be stimulated, does feel a little bit overwhelming, but the positive effects I’ve seen in social media is that you can use it, like you said, to connect across time and space. I went to Cambodia I think five, seven, no seven years ago for mission trips for women in sex trafficking. I’m still able to keep up with that same ministry, I know what’s going on, I’m abreast of what’s going on in their country or whatever’s going on with that ministry because I’m able to see on Facebook and we’re able to connect.
So that’s a beautiful, really beautiful way to be able to use it toward the kingdom. For college students, what I’ve noticed though, that it does two things, particularly with my college student, is that it allows them to have the excuse not to be in golly community. It allows them to be able to say, that I’m able, oh yeah, I got time with her the other day because you Snapchat, that’s not time with a sister in Christ to really search the scriptures or to bear your heart, but they really feel like it’s an actual connection. And so it’s substituting real deep walks with each other, I think for just a superficial, just quick assessment of a relationship.
And another thing I noticed too is when it comes to sin patterns, it does allow you to be able to secretly hide sin quicker than if you weren’t on social media or if you weren’t using technology toward your benefit. And what I mean by that is many of the girls I counsel I noticed when it comes to pornography or it comes to looking at women and body image issues, they are just overwhelmed by social media in certain things that they wouldn’t have saw any other way. And so, yeah, I just noticed that those are the two things that technology may be using for this detrimental.
Aimee Joseph: One other thought is I think this is from Neil Postman’s entertaining ourself, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Amusing Ourselves to Death, but he talks about the value of action value. And so if one of the ways, at least I, from my own personal intake in my children’s is if we’re receiving news, like news used to be localized and so so-and-so’s house is on fire, you should go and help them put it out or the market’s closed, there’s no more eggs. But now we’re getting so much information with no action value. There’s nothing we can do and I think it increases anxiety and fear and depression. And so asking myself and my children, what is the actual value of that? Is there something that we can do about that? And if there is, let’s do it, let’s pray. Let’s stop, Let’s send money, let’s write a letter.
If there’s not, then is this important? Do I need to be receiving this because we can be overwhelmed. We’re not meant to process that much information, faces, images, pictures. So it’s saying what’s the actual value of that for you? How does the watching the bachelor really help you walk or whatever it is?
Shar Walker: A great thing like practically for college ministers here, if you guys do any summer projects or any training environments, having sessions on appropriate uses of technology is instrumental. I feel like most, I don’t know, I don’t know if I could say most many of the campus outreach regions at least have been incorporating into their trainings at different events, like elements of that. So it just seems with the generation of millennials and then the coming generation, that probably is going to become more and more essential.
Danielle Sallade: Yes. I’ve been around college students long enough to really see the change that has happened in our society with technology and campuses have changed too. I mean, when I was a college student well we did actually print our papers then. But you still printed a hard copy and you had to go to the departmental office and turn it in. And now you just email your papers in and so professors have actually changed the way they run deadlines. I mean, papers are due at midnight on a Friday night. Well, our campus fellowship where we want all of our students to come at 7:30 to gather and worship and be together, so often a student hasn’t finished a paper, so they’re back in their dorm room, cranking it out because that deadline is midnight and they can email it in.
And so even something like that has changed the pace of life or the way of life of doing ministry. I will never forget, we have a dear professor, he’s a professor of German languages, he’s a strong Christian, he plays worship music with us and he loves to mentor students. And he does these very fancy Titanic dinners in his home for freshmen where he recreates the meal, the last night of the meal of the Titanic [crosstalk]-
Shar Walker: I am coming to his house.
Danielle Sallade: I know. Students love this. And so it’s this 10 course meal. It was actually 10 courses. Anyway, we drive the students to his home and then we pick them up and drive them back. Well, I will never forget when iPhones were just beginning was just reminding Shar, it was 2006, 2007, we went to pick up the students to take them back and they didn’t have their phones at the table. So they were in their coat pockets or somewhere else. But the moment the dinner was over, they all reached for their devices and heads down, looking at everything that they had missed. And I remember waiting to walk out the group went with me out his door, down his stairs and not one turned around to say, thank you professor for having us for this amazing meal.
And it’s because they were distracted and that’s not just them, that’s all of us, right? So we actually spend a lot of time teaching social interactions now that maybe have changed or have been lost because of what has happened with technology. So for example, in a Bible study, people are very, very slow to share their deep struggles with each other yet I scroll on Facebook and I see everything they’ve posted, I’m like, “Hello, you’ve just said it to everybody in the world, but you haven’t said it face-to-face to these women who are committed to you weekly, something’s wrong here, what can we do?”
So again, many blessings that we see of technology, of course, but many challenges as well too. I’m going to ask for the sake of time, one or maybe two more questions to the panel, and then I’ll turn it over to you all to ask your questions, okay? Switching gears about churches, we all work for a parachurch organizations but yet we also believe in and are connected to our local churches. So this I’ll direct toward Kori, but again, everyone jump in, what do you do in your ministry to encourage students to be connected to the local church? How do you equip them to jump into a local church when they move on?
Kori Porter: I’m going to let that run going to look down. Yeah, that’s a great question because I actually didn’t start with a parachurch ministry. I started by working as a campus minister, I was associate director at our local church for campus ministry, and that’s a totally different ball game. And why it’s different is because we’re under the authority of a local church already. And so we have elderships and we have them to have that authority. They actually give guidance to what’s going on and wisdom, and actually commission us to do our job. So there was a bit of a difference in that and because it was tied to the local church, but it was at Michigan State, tHey also knew a culture was already built in to go to church on Sunday because this church that hosted their large group on Thursday night is now inviting you to Sunday.
And so we were very active about making that connection. Now being in parachurch ministry, I think would all parachurches should be doing is what the word actually means, right? So para, it’s a Greek word to mean alongside and so alongside of what? The church. And so parachurch ministries are never to take the place of, but to actually work alongside the church and help supplement or bring in the gospel to a particular context, i.e. college students. So it’s contextualized in that sense. And so my campus ministry, what we try to do to make sure that they understand that this is a culture where you’re to participate in our campus ministry, but you’re also to be connected to a local church, is that we try to actually help them to get there.
So who were you riding with, what connections have you made? Another thing we used to do was with community groups out of a local church, we would make sure that they were partnered with a local host family, if you will. And so you had three college students from our organization, they would then be in the life group or a community group and a local church. And so a family at that church knew our students and they were not isolated. It was intergenerational and they were always connected in that way. So I think those are ways that we foster that connection.
Danielle Sallade: Right. That’s great.
Aimee Joseph: And this is actually a weird hybrid so we are actually under the authority of a local church [crosstalk] It’s fine. So it’s a little bit easier like Kori was saying for us, so because we’re under the threat of local church, we’re all members of the local church, they come with us on Sundays most of the time. And then one of the things that we typically do is their senior year just clutch and break you slowly let off, right? We slowly let off the discipleship and slowly invite in more of the women in the local church to take that role. And there’s a shift in initiation and pursuit that they are now initiating and pursuing and we’re still available, but they’ve got to learn to go get rather than having it offered on a silver plate, because what we don’t want to do is create disillusion in the local church.
And there’s often a big gap. And then one of the things that we’ve had to do in San Diego, particularly because it takes so much longer for students to come to faith, we don’t get to run the program the way we used to run the program because they’re not coming to faith till their junior year and they’re just still babies. And so we’ve helped create within local churches, a program called Vision Pathways, which is just an extension of our college ministry, but they’re connected with a career mentor and they’re small. So there it’s a very much a discipleship orientation, but the table leaders are not on staff, they are church members, they’re meeting with families, so they’re actively engaged.
So we’re giving them baby steps and getting them plugged in to where we can pull out. And they’re thriving in local communities. And it’s cool because the church has actually taken, a lot of the smaller churches that we go to, great ownership and they been infused with the passion of discipleship because they’re like, this is so cool. So it’s a really sweet partnership of the intergenerational. So I think, yeah, we’re just really big on college ministries come and go. We do not want you to be those people who look back on college and say, oh, those were some great spiritual years for me. Your best spiritual years are still ahead of you and the local churches is Christ bread and that’s the way you’re going to get it. So…
Danielle Sallade: Yeah, we just really want students to have that intergenerational exposure. College is such a strange bizarre time where you are on a campus with only people just like yourselves. I know even on our campus, when students see somebody pushing a baby in a stroller across the campus, they’re like, “Whoa, what’s that?” Or dogs. So I think it’s just crucial that we, yes, fully participate in our program, but also leave time to be involved at church and college the curriculum does not include life skills. They are spending hours and hours in classes pursuing wonderful academic things, but they are not necessarily learning how to balance their budget or cook or care for different aged people.
So service opportunities at church are really important. We urge students to work in the nursery or to help teach Sunday school or mentor in the youth group. And we equip them and then they are turning around and equipping others. So then when they leave campus, they’re ready to take initiative. I mean, we’re all there as staff pouring into them and if they graduate and move somewhere and they’re sitting there waiting for a church to come find them, that’s not going to work. So they have to be equipped to reach in. And so by encouraging them to do that with a church as they’re in their student years, it really helps with the transition beyond college.
Kori Porter: Another quick practical that we did that we always use Mark Dever’s, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church with our seniors, so that when they did get ready to go out into the world, they knew how to identify healthy church. Because what you don’t want is unnecessary frustration for your student when they leave, when they can see, oh, this church may not be the best because I have not seen the pastor open scripture one time. I’m seeing a lot of him, but I’m not seeing any of Jesus. And they’re able to identify that and they’re able to see certain things that really were probably invisible to them, but were the structure that they were living in and they just didn’t know how to identify it. So I think Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, that’s the name of the book by Mark Dever was what we used.
Danielle Sallade: That’s a good resource. Let’s have some questions from all of you. We have more, so if you don’t have any, I’ll go back to our list, but I’m sure, out here let’s ask some questions. I saw you in the back in the red, could you stand and ask your question? Thanks.
Great question. Thank you, Ashley.
It’s Ashley, right?
Danielle Sallade: Okay. So Ashley lives in Cleveland around seven to 10 universities, I’m paraphrasing this, and she’s wondering what her local church can do to partner with students to support them. I’m assuming students in your congregation?
Danielle Sallade: Okay. Okay. I think my initial thought is on the school websites, a lot of times the organizations that are Christian organizations that are recognized are listed there. And I would say, get in touch with their staff because honestly, staff, we could always use more help. We will take it if you offer it. So I would definitely say, get in touch with some of the college ministries, intervarsities, crew, CO, what are some-
Aimee Joseph: AIA, I don’t know if there’s Athletes in Action.
Danielle Sallade: Athletes in Action, those are some great ministries. Also Navigators is a great one.
Aimee Joseph: StuMo.
Danielle Sallade: Yes. StuMo, great college ministries if they’re on the campuses.
Ashley: If they’re not on the campuses, what’s the other option because some of them have done that exodus from that area.
Kori Porter: It depends on the reason why I’ve seen a lot of campus ministries having to leave public institutions because our faith has an exclusive call and a proselytizing that people were to come. And because of these places are publicly funded and church and state are separate, a lot of campus ministry can lose their charters at universities. And so then you have to be a little bit more shrewd in how you approach to campus. I know of campus ministries who are not chaplained and actually work functionally on the campus by allowing the student groups to be the leader in who are actually recognized. And then they come alongside and help the students. So there are ways around it to be a little bit more shrewd to actually get the gospel on the campuses.
Aimee Joseph: And to be honest, I mean, I really think relational is the way to go. You can draw students in sometimes events, macro events, few micro events, the relational stuff. So maybe, I mean, we don’t do a lot of door to door, tabling or things like that, but being on the campus and eating in the cafeteria, I mean, those are the most awkward first interactions on the earth. Every time we have so much of our testimony, it starts with, well, I was sitting down at the cafeteria and this awkward guy came up to me and I was like, “What are you doing?” That happens all the time. Because I mean, there needs to be someone, a few people who go and start that relational, that headway, making a beachhead there.
And then once you have a few people, I think love those people well, disciple them well, feed them, they love food. And babysitting, hook them up with babysitting. I mean, bring them into families. I think sponsorship programs like that are big, but you need to have relational context to be able to do those things. So I think having physical bodies, like our pastors at some of our churches actually come and hang out on the campus, which is so cool. And they’re just there. So finding some people who are wanting to do that and just post it up for a couple hours and having conversations and then trusting God to give you a few relationships.
Kori Porter: Another practical, you can contact the dean of student life on any campus and you should be able to say, how can I help freshmen move in? So move in is really important. And what you get is not only the students, but you get their parents and that’s what you’re really after, right? And so the parents can also understand that, oh, we’re a local church, we want to help your student just to move in. Here’s a water bottle or some Clorox wipes to help you with the dorm room, things like that. Just basic ways to help serve them. So when that student does start coming to your church, they may be 10, 15 minutes away, the parent knows, oh yeah, that was so-and-so who helped me move in. So yeah, it’s practical.
How about another question? Okay. Right here in the black and white.
Abby: My name is Abby. I go to school in Providence, Rhode Island. I’m really involved as a leader in my campus ministry. I was wondering if you guys had any advice for weeding through preconceptions about Christians as they’re portrayed in media? I think it was, Gandhi who said, “I liked your Christ, but not your Christians.” So ways in evangelism of weeding through some of those conceptions.
Danielle Sallade: Great question. [crosstalk] I think it was like ways in evangelism of weeding through the misconceptions that Christians might have within the community or our country.
Kori Porter: Yeah. It depends on who you’re approaching. So everyone’s a skeptic because of their own background, right? And so if I’m approaching evangelism in there, the woman is upset because of homosexuality and the church’s stance on that. First and foremost, I usually lead with a posture of trying to hear and trying to understand and help me to understand exactly why are you concerned about this? Are you yourself same sex attracted or are you more because you’re advocating for a friend? And there’s a difference there also once you actually hear what you’re saying, apologize for when you are able to.
There are things the church unfortunately has done wrong and being able to admit, I am so sorry that the church did not represent scripture like it should have been. And I think that gives you a lot of social capital to be able to actually move in with the gospel. And that’s the way I approach it. I actually come less on defensive like, well, the church would never work, God would never, God doesn’t need to be defended. Like he’s ultimate, right? He’s eternal. So I don’t need to defend him. I’m just trying to show you and reveal to you and I think that posture and apologetics is a little bit different than just trying to cram down their throat, this is what it is.
Danielle Sallade: I’ll just throw out a couple ideas in case they help. We’re in a similar context to Providence, Rhode Island. In fact the ministry that I serve with was founded in 1932. So over 80 years old, it’s been the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship for all these years and after much prayer and discussion with our board and alumni, we actually changed the name and we are now the Princeton Christian Fellowship. And it’s because in our context, the word evangelical was just a huge stumbling block to too many of our students who wouldn’t even come and listen or check it out because they assume what that word means by how it’s used most frequently in the media.
So I get the context. One of the things our students have been doing, this has been so successful. So I recommend it. They copied it from England where there’s something called text for toasties and at Princeton they call it Q for Q, Questions for Quesadillas. And they assemble as teams and they break up into our dorms and through GroupMe, through all sorts of social media or even some posters, they say, text us a question, any question you want about God, about faith, about the church, about Christianity, text it to this number and we will make you a quesadilla, and we will bring it to your room, deliver it for free, free study break.
They make quesadillas they bring little salsa and sour cream on the side and they go in pairs and they answer the question. Questions for quesadilla. Actually we partner with all the groups on campus, everybody comes together to do this and they do it from 10:00 PM to midnight. And they actually do it the first weekend before midterm exams because students are in their rooms and they are studying and they’re often looking for a study break to procrastinate. And you might think that you get really provocative, annoying, questions just meant to push you and there are some of those, but honestly, what we have discovered is that people really want to talk about these things and they just don’t know how.
And so our students go door to door with these quesadillas and they’re answering things like well, how can there be a God when there’s evil and suffering? How do we respond to Christianity and gender? All sorts of questions, you name it, it’s asked. Some of these, that’s it, it’s a one-time answer the question, they never see each other again but so many of the times it leads to further dinners, further conversations, friendships are born. So the last time we did this there were 210 questions. [crosstalk] And this is a campus of 5,000 students, this is not a big campus. So anyway, throw that out there in case it might open some doors. Okay, more? Oh, I got so many great questions. In the blue, right here?
Robin: My name is Robin and I am a mom of college students at a small liberal arts Christian school. And so I have lots of questions, but one of them is well, my two top questions are dealing with feminism among kids who’ve been raised in Christian homes. This is like huge issue that I’m slamming, putting our kids in the face of [inaudible]. Girls are coming even from Christian home, but they have just been fed so much feminism that it’s really startling. And the other question is just, do you have favorite resources that you’ve used in discipleship either in [inaudible]?
Aimee Joseph: I think the feminism question I tried to get further above the water line on that one, like further upstream and I try to bring it back to the Trinity and Philippians two. And so that sense of entitlement. I think there’s what can we accept, what do we reject, what can we redeem is a good way to look at things that are happening in the culture except reject redeem. And so what is right about feminism? So starting with what is good, at the heart, you could look at it historically, you could look at it socially, culturally, because most people aren’t talking about historical feminism, they’re talking about the cultural angersty, I don’t know what you would call it.
But I think giving them a historical let’s trace, what was feminism? Where did it come from? What were its roots? Because they’re completely unmoored. They’re not more to history in any way and so there’s no concept of, well, okay, that was initially for women’s rights or so were yes for that. But I think the question, the spirit of entitlement is antithetical to the gospel. And so that’s a hill we’ll die on in discipleship because Christ being in very nature, God did not consider equality with God so the needy grasp or utilized, but laid himself down and we get to be Jesus, that’s a privilege.
And so going back to the Trinity, I think is really significant anchoring it in something that eternal as a starting point. But I think starting to diffuse it because it’s a complex thing. When you say feminism, what are you seeing in them, where is it coming from, are they advocating for rights? What are they advocating for? And who is it that in the old Testament said to Abraham when he was lying about Sarah, what has been done to you? That was the question he asked when he realized he had been lying about his life. What has been done to you and I think that was a very insightful question. Where’s this coming from is significant because if it’s coming from a place of abuse, that’s one track. If it’s coming from a place of, I just want my voice to be heard and I want to be loud, that’s another track.
So I think understanding where this is coming from, what are the streams of influence, what are the heart things that are being tugged on, is very significant and channels the way you direct it.
Danielle Sallade: Let’s mention a few resources quickly.
Shar Walker: Yeah. I feel like I’m like you, I have mostly used the Bible in the resource, I would say is One-to-One Bible Reading. I think it’s actually in the bookstore, very simple method of just, it’s similar to OIA, but I would say maybe, or the Inductive Bible Study method, a little more simplistic, but helping students to learn how to study God’s word, that’s a great resource. But that’s really, I feel like that might be the only one I’ve really used.
Kori Porter: I think you can use Desiring God as a catalog, because if you look on Desiring God website, it has topics. So say I do want to go and only use scripture, I can look at Desiring God blogs and I can see church and then under church, it has church discipline, church purpose, church whatever. And they’re like, okay, church purpose, and then it’s like, okay, now what scriptures can I look up? So now it gives me an idea or some type of verbiage that when I’m speaking with her, it can readily come to mind, but I honestly want her to trust God’s word. So I probably had those resources, I don’t push them as readily.
Danielle Sallade: For apologetics, Tim Keller, Reason for God or Making Sense of God. Anything in the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries website, great articles linked there. There’s a, in our books, I’m trying to think of things that I know are in the bookstore. The Good Book Company does a series of Bible studies on books like Romans For You, Judges For You, they’re wonderful little lay commentaries and then they have Bible study books as well. Those are really great if you’re doing one-on-one Bible study and you want a tool.
Kori Porter: John Nielsen has a book out is then The Devotional Narrative of Scripture, something like that but it’s for students specifically is like aimed toward students. So I think that has been helpful for some people.
Aimee Joseph: The J.I. Packer, Knowing the Bible, is knowing the Bible series a little one, does it knowing [crosstalk] Yeah. It’s J.I. Packer Knowing the Bible series are small and very accessible. They’re set into 12 set units, they have good theological insight, but they’re not overwhelming. It feels very accessible. So I feel like they’re solid but accessible. So J.I. Packer, Knowing the Bible series.