Garrett Martin, Seminary Student
I remember during my sophomore year of college God started to give me an explosive amount of clarity about how paramount he is and what he does in determining who I am and what I do. He is the ultimate driving force—not just for the general direction of my life or a few isolated priorities but for everything. I saw Christ as preeminent and his glory as my goal. The means to accomplish this goal is my joining in his mission of reconciling the world through the gospel.
I’m sure all genuine believers know this feeling of boiling inside with passion to serve an infinitely glorious God. But the frustration that sometimes follows is questioning what to do with all of that God-inspired, glory-invigorated passion.
What does God want me to do? Not just in vague terms (i.e. “share the gospel,” “disciple people,” “glorify God,” etc.). How does God want to use my gifting, my background, my opportunities? Which gifts should I be developing? What opportunities should I aim for? What does it look like for my everything to be used for his glory?
Essentially, I needed a vision. I knew God’s mission, and I knew my general purpose in life. But I didn’t know what it looked like.
One of the greatest helps in shaping my vision has been going on a city team, and I discovered that my situation was actually one of the primary reasons city teams exist.
What is a city team? City team is an initiative that began two years ago, which consists of student-led groups that connect with local churches in the USA for potential long-term ministry. City teams help students build relationship and practical bridges with local church ministries before they graduate. These teams are open to ministry-minded students from any major because the goal is to match their major with ministry significance in a specific context.
The details of the team are determined by the make up of students—their interests, gifts, etc. For example, I led a team to Denver with four other students who were studying engineering, church music, graphic design, and international studies. Because one student was wondering how she could use her passion and background of non-profit work for the glory of God, we were able to volunteer with different nonprofit ministries through the local churches in Denver. The aspiring graphic designer on our team had multiple meetings with church administrators and leaders to see the various needs of graphic design in their church. The church music major was able to meet with different music pastors in Denver. As a whole, the team was able to spend the two weeks surrounded by church members and meeting with dozens of pastors.
These are the questions that we repeatedly asked in almost every meeting as we served side-by-side with other Christians, drank coffee together, or sat across the kitchen table:
“How did God lead you here?”
“What is your vision for the gospel in Denver?”
“What are some of the most exciting and difficult things about serving here?”
“How should we be preparing while in college?
It was eye-opening to say the least. One of the joys is that these experiences not only provided a tangible vision of how to serve God with our lives, but it also simultaneously amplified our passion to serve Him.
Throughout the rest of my time in college, I found that I was often being pushed forward in my studies by looking back on these experiences. It became my aim; it was the tangible goal and need that I saw with my own eyes and heard across the table as pastors shared their burdens and vision. I’m gratefully surprised with how much those conversations have marked and motivated me. I’m further encouraged as I see students, through these teams, expressing an intensified desire to serve God and some even immediately moving after graduation to be a part of the local church that they first encountered through their city team. This typically doesn’t just happen unless there is an established relationship and a solid conviction that “God can use me there.”
Through these teams, God is spreading a vision for his mission in the church. My guess is that the large majority of students who will read this want more of that vision. So, of course, my suggestion for you is to join a city team. The teams are flexible, inexpensive, and life-altering.
I’ve shifted from a member of these teams to an advocate for them. So if you see the value and God is moving you to consider joining one, please let me know. I’d be happy to connect you with the various city teams that are being planned for this upcoming summer. We’ve had teams go to NYC; Lincoln, Nebraska; Boston; Detroit; Denver; Salt Lake City and Seattle. This year we are expecting seven more teams, some going to the previously mentioned cities and some going to new areas like Chicago, D.C., and Portland.
Please do not exercise aimlessly. God is real, and there are real people who need Him—and by extension, need you. Prepare yourself for them. Give your passion a vision.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.