Back in Business
As soon as the new year started, our staff at UTD entered a bit of a blitz. On January 2nd we left town to go on our Staff Retreat in Burnet, TX. This was a great time for our staff to come out of break and get on the same page, as well as spend some time getting to invest in our friendships with each other. The staffs at other campuses were also present, which made for a great time of learning from each other, sharing ideas for how we will reach our campuses. I was also really grateful for the time I got to spend with specific members of our SMU and UNT staffs. One of the ministers at Denton is named Drew, and he and I were students together at UTD, and we got to become friends and spend a lot of time together during that time. Since he became a member of the UNT team, it has been a lot harder to find time to spend together and stay involved in each other's lives, but times like this are great for catching up! Similarly, the director at SMU, Laurence, was someone who spiritually poured into me a lot when I was a student. He was on the team at UTD, but the year before I joined our staff, he lead the campus plant at SMU. Times like staff retreat are great for getting guidance from him, as Laurence is very similar to me in personality, but with more years on life, he has a ton to offer me in terms of where I should be looking to grow. All in all, the four days we spent on retreat worked well to produce great excitement in our team for the upcoming semester, which we got to work on very soon after our return.
Just a day after we came home, we had our semesterly Small Group Leader Training. For four hours, we took time training our small group leaders on how to use this semester in a way that allows them to take the work they did last semester, and turn it into fruit. We trained them on looking for the qualities of spiritual leaders, how to caringly confront people, and how to cast a vision for growth to get guys excited about their own change. With the start of the semester just around the corner, it was great for getting our student leaders excited about the people they are working with!
Before that next semester started, we first went to our annual Winter Retreat! In the past, we would take students from all of our campuses to Sky Ranch, but this year we instead went to Riverbend Retreat Center. This change of location ended up being a big blessing to our students, as we were able to still accomplish everything we normally do, but saved our students $35 on the price. The staff at Riverbend was also so invested in the spiritual growth of the students we brought, which was so encouraging! The theme of our talks this year was "Life and Light", focusing on the themes of 1 John. Every sermon given was so well done and incredibly meaningful to our student. Two guys from my small group, Wilson and Josiah, were loving the talks. One specifically titled "Loving God means Loving People" was especially meaningful to them, and was the main topic of conversation on the way home.
(Our students from all campuses together worshipping!)
(Me and two guys from my small group, Wilson and Josiah)
(Having lunch after Winter Retreat at Coco Shrimp with some students)
Once we were back from retreat, we dove straight into the semester. The first week we were back on campus, we did outreach in the school common areas to meet new students! We showed up to campus with a table and hot chocolate for the students there, and managed to meet a lot of new people! Spring Welcome Week is never as lively as the Fall Welcome Week is, but it was really nice to meet and include so many new people. In the about 10 hours we were on campus that week, we connected to about 50 more students! Many of them are only able to really be involved in either a small group or our Friday night service, but regardless, getting them met and connected was the goal and now more people will get to have a much better campus experience!
Unfortunately for the end of January, I was battling the flu so this is where I have to the story of January, but as you can see this month was a lot! Our semester was very well kickstarted, and I am excited for the momentum we can try to carry through this semester.