He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:18-21).

Here we are. It’s mid-July. In a little over a month, a new school year will be upon us.

This is an exciting time!

All around the nation, Chi Alpha pastors are gearing up. We’ve been planning the next year, reorganizing, reinventing. Now is when we start getting all of our ducks in a row. All of the events before, during, and for a month or so after move-in? We’re getting those plans finalized, filing the paperwork (we work with universities—of course there’s paperwork for all of this), making reservations, crossing our Ts and dotting our Is.

For most of us staff, we’re working overtime starting the first week of August. Why?

Because the first few weeks of the school year are the best time to make connections for the new year. It’s the most strategic time. It’s huge.

The momentum we get from the first few weeks is what we build on for the rest of the year.

The first few weeks are when we plant the mustard seed. It’s when we put that small bit of yeast into the flour. And it will grow and spread through the campus for the rest of the year.

So we work hard to make sure that conditions are as great as possible. Because we want to see the Kingdom grow—and grow big—on campus.

One thing we tell all of our student leaders before move in every single year is this:

There are people who we haven’t met yet, who are coming to the campus in just a few weeks. And they will be a major part of our ministry here. In a few months’ time, it will be hard to imagine Chi Alpha without them. And we haven’t met them yet.

These first few weeks are the biggest opportunity to meet those people. The people who will be a major part of your life for the next few years. Your closest friends. Future leaders in the ministry, even future Chi Alpha staff. And it all starts when you meet them in a few weeks.

This is huge! This is exciting!

Some of you are going to meet the best man or maid of honor at your wedding. You’re going to meet the people you’ll go on vacation with when you’re 35. You’re going to meet the best friend you’ll name your first child after.

You’re going to meet hurting people. You’re going to meet people who may not seem very loveable. You’re going to meet people who may not like you at all.

You’re going to meet people whom God loves dearly.

And you’re going to show God’s love to all of them. And you’re going to disciple them. And you’re going to help them grow into a strong daughter or son of God.

You’re going to see these people grow and mature. You’re going to see them healed—mentally, spiritually, and physically—and not only that, but you’re going to help them with it. You’re going to be there for them when they just don’t want to be alone anymore. You’re going to be there for them when they triumph and when they fail.

And it all starts in just a few weeks.

So start getting ready now. Because the first few weeks of the school year are crazy. You won’t have time to get ready once it’s already going. You need to come in ready. You need to start now. You need to be praying hard and fasting about this.

Practice meeting new people. It sounds weird, but try striking up conversations with people in the grocery store. If you don’t want to be the lone crazy person in the grocery store, bring a friend along and you can both practice.

You can even practice on each other. Pretend to be meeting for the first time. Practice striking up a conversation. Try to go past the superficial (name, year in school, major, home town). Make things hard on each other.

Start planning out your small group. Even if you aren’t strictly a small group leader (though most of you are), you can still lead your ministry like a small group. It’s just a specialized small group. You can be a leader in charge of the music team or the A/V team and lead those ministries like a small group. You don’t have to be a leader to mix audio. Ministry leaders are disciple-makers. If you’re not making disciples, if you’re not discipling people, then are you really a leader?

So get ready to make new friends. More than that, get ready to make a lot of new, lifelong friends.

And even more than that, get ready to disciple these people.

Get ready to serve God and to expand his Kingdom.

Get ready to see God do amazing things!

Happy New Year!

All views expressed on this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, U.S.A., U.S. Missions, and The General Council of the Assemblies of God.

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