Starting at the Beginning

*A couple months ago I was having breakfast with some of the one28 staff men. Our conversation turned toward the subject of past one28 graduates, and in particular, the current spiritual state of those students. There are, as anyone might suspect, some students continuing to walk with Christ who are closer to Him than ever. There are other students who have given every appearance of walking away from Christ.

As we talked that morning, we wondered out loud if we as men, as a staff, and as a ministry, were doing everything we possibly could to prepare our graduates for the life outside of and beyond one28.

Of course, one28 is only a small part of a student’s development. A student’s family makes the biggest difference. The opportunities and education they get at whatever school they attend plays a large role. Many additional influences shape a student’s life as well. But the question still remains: are we maximizing our influence to prepare students for life after one28? In other words, are we doing everything we can to present every student complete in Christ?

The question has not been altogether off the radar over the last few years. When we tweaked small groups and had senior’s teach on Wednesdays and retooled snow retreat and studied soli Deo glori in the 04-05 “Year of the ‘S'” we had the question in mind. When we prayed for abounding love in 05-06, enlisting Jonathan Edwards’ help to get our heads out of broken cisterns and raise our affections we had the question in mind. When we looked only to Christ in 06-07 with Spurgeon, and when we played for keeps last year through Ecclesiastes and a snow retreat aimed at guarding the heart and had the staff teach through biblical manhood and womanhood, we had in mind our part to prepare young people for following Christ.

In one sense, we’re going to build on each of the previous years, since all of those themes have a proper place. But in another sense, we’re going to take a big step back this year, and start at the beginning. After all,

  • you can’t get old without being born
  • you can’t build walls that will stand unless you begin by laying a solid foundation
  • you can’t eat ripe fruit unless you begin by planting the tree
  • you can’t cross the finish line unless you start at the beginning

That’s the 2008-09 theme: Starting at the Beginning. And we’re going to start at the beginning in a few different ways.

Genesis

On Sundays were going to study Genesis. As I’ve already said, Genesis may be the best and most relevant book in all the Bible to prepare us to think about our place in the world, to frame our beliefs about family and history and morality from the ground up. Genesis is the book of beginnings, especially as we study the early chapters of God’s story of redemption. We will study the beginning of everything so that students will be prepared for anything.

Rightly | Dividing

Then we’re going to do a Saturday seminar on how to study the Bible. God’s Word is the beginning of our understanding of truth. God’s Word builds us up, equips us for every good work, and helps young men keep their way pure. One of the most valuable things we can do, then, to help prepare students, is to give them tools to understand God’s book for themselves. If we want to succeed and make our way prosperous, we’ve got to start at the beginning with Scripture.

Service

We’re also going to focus on service this year like never before. If we want to please God, we’ve got to serve. If we want to be a blessing to our families, now as a young persons, and later as a spouse or parent, we’ve got to serve. And if we want to lead others, we must follow Jesus’ example of servanthood. This generation seeks to be served and be given to. But that mindset must not to be the case for us in one28. In small groups and as a ministry, we’re going to provide opportunities and make a concentrated push to start at the beginning with service.

Seniors

We’re going to ask the senior guys to teach most Wednesdays again this year. In a lot of ways, students leading students makes the biggest difference in the ground war of making disciples. When students lead, particularly the guy students, the health of our ministry is off the charts. When senior guys step up, that sets the tone and pace. We want our guys to be strong, and we want our senior guys to start at the beginning by leading as servants.

Snow Retreat

And finally, there’s snow retreat. I can’t unwrap the 09SR theme for another month or so, but I promise, it is going to challenge everyone to start at the beginning.

Now all that is exciting, at least to me. But it is worthless for students unless they come up to the starting line with us. If they don’t participate, if they don’t let Genesis lay a foundation for their thinking, or take advantage of service opportunities and the Bible study seminar and the senior Wednesdays and the 09SR, they will not be prepared and will not be more Christlike by the end of the year.

That means some students need to repent. Loving oneself or one’s sin or the things of the world will keep anyone from growing. A person in sin needs to clear the plate, confess sin and turn from it. He or she needs to start at the beginning. So here we stand, kicking off another school year. We are starting at the beginning. Start with us.