FIRST-PERSON: CBU’s Collegiate Ministry Gathering Provides “Deep Encouragement” For All Kinds of Ministry Spheres

Written By Joe Cosato

FIRST-PERSON: CBU’s Collegiate Ministry Gathering Provides “Deep Encouragement” For All Kinds of Ministry Spheres

It is a pivotal time in our culture, where young adults are facing all kinds of social, political, educational, and spiritual challenges. It’s because of this challenging time that it’s vitally important for ministry leaders to build relationships and collaborate together over how best to serve our young adults, and California Baptist University’s first-ever Collegiate Ministry Gathering (CMG) proved to be an incredible experience.

It is true that the speakers, food, and free books were all great, but the best part of the conference was being around many other ministry leaders versed in today’s issues regarding young adult ministries. This community of fellow leaders provided deep encouragement for me as we talked through our own struggles, victories, strengths, weaknesses, and more.

The Collegiate Ministry Gathering provided valuable space for leaders from all kinds of ministry spheres, including campus ministry, young adult ministry, and churches aspiring to establish a ministry for college students, and it provided an opportunity for participants to talk through important issues, exchange ideas on ministry models, and share best practices.

Common themes that arose out of these conversations included:

  • How to create a more welcoming and inviting environment in our ministries,
  • How to develop leaders and
  • What kind of mindset ministry leaders should seek to “put on?”

Beyond offering a space for strategic conversations, this event was refreshingly different as there was no main thrust to push any kind of agenda or proclaim some new ministry vision. Rather, by design, the focus was more about creating a space for ministry leaders to experience uplifting community.

In the opening session, CBU’s own Damon Horton first addressed the need for compassion in our ministries. In session two, we heard from collegiate ministry giant Neil Walker. Neil, who has served in collegiate ministry at USC for decades, stood at the heart of the conference and provided content worth its weight in gold!  His presented material was a well of wisdom as he shared lessons learned through years of serving in collegiate ministry. In short, his points were:

  1. In college, adults are deciding what they want to give their lives away to.
  2. The secret to a fruitful life of ministry is abiding.
  3. Discipleship is a team sport.
  4. Your example makes all the difference, and,
  5. Real change takes place when you shape perspective and values.

Neil began and ended his time with a strong emphasis on abiding in the Lord, His word, and prayer. In my own experience, it has been easy to run headfirst into the endless to-do list of ministry, and Neil’s encouragement to abide in the Lord as the means by which we bear fruit was no small reminder.

Headed by Jacob Ravenscraft, CBU’s Dean of Spiritual Life, and Brian Zunigha, Director of Discipleship, the CMG was steeped in their shared heart for young adults, a passion for discipleship, and prizing the Gospel above all else. Together, they closed the sessions by speaking on discipleship in the context of evangelism.

To all collegiate ministry leaders who must carefully pick and choose which events to give your time to (which is probably all of us!), I would definitely encourage you to consider putting CBU’s Collegiate Ministry Gathering towards the top of the list!

Photos provided by Nic Moore

About the Author

Joe Cosato
Pastor of Adults & Families, Immanuel Baptist Church

Joe Cosato serves as the Pastor of Adults and Families at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, California. He earned his Bachelor of Applied Theology from California Baptist University and a Master of Divinity from Gateway Seminary, where he is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Old Testament. Joe and his wife Brianna have been married for over 5 years.

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