5 Tips for College Graduates

UM GraduationOne of the joys we have at HMCC is being able to invest in college students.  They will be the next generation of world leaders, and we get to see many of their lives transformed during their time on a college campus.

At the same time, I’ve watched as a lot of students graduate from college and struggle with the transition to single adult life.  This is a hard transition for anyone, but perhaps even more so when someone has been part of an immersive spiritual community during their college years.

Knowing how difficult these changes can be, I have a few tips to share with you to help navigate the struggle.

  1. Own your spiritual health.  One of the blessings of our college ministry is that there is a lot of structure and accountability to help undergrad students grow spiritually.  This is very beneficial, and I’ve previously likened it to going through boot camp.  The thing is, at some point you have to move on.  You won’t always have someone there to make sure you’re reading the Bible or spending time in prayer.  You won’t always be able to hang out with your LIFE Group every day of the week.  You’ll need to take ownership of your spiritual health, because nobody else will.
  2. Focus on what’s ahead.  Reflecting on your days in college is great, and you’ll probably be reminiscing about it for the rest of your life.  But if you don’t focus on what’s ahead, you can easily sink into an unhealthy nostalgia that actually hinders your future growth.  Complaining about how you can’t hang out til 2AM anymore, or how it’s harder to connect with people when you aren’t stacked on top of each other in apartments won’t do anything to help you move forward in life.  Acknowledge that your college years are behind you, thank God for what He did during that time, and look ahead to the new lessons and experiences He has planned for your future.
  3. Dive into a new community.  One aspect of looking ahead is realizing that you’ll need to develop new friendships.  Your college friends will end up all over the world, and wherever you find yourself, you’ll need to immerse yourself in a new spiritual community to help you grow and invest yourself in.  You don’t need to ditch the close friends you made in college, but holding out on building a new community won’t help you or anyone else.
  4. Context is flexible.  Purpose is constant.  Recognize that what you experienced during your college years was a very specific, isolated context which you will likely never find anywhere else.  You don’t want to end up like Will Ferrell in Old School, thinking that real life is only found by returning to campus.  Context changes, so hold it loosely.  But your purpose should remain the same.  Whatever new context God places you in, you can still grow spiritually, serve God, share your faith, and be part of transforming the world.  Don’t let your sense of purpose be dictated by where you are.  Let your purpose direct how you approach your new job, city, or neighborhood, and God will show you that He has decades of testimonies waiting for you to discover them.
  5. Enjoy yourself.  Personally, I loved starting working life.  If you are resolved to enjoy the new opportunities and relationships in front of you, there is a lot of fun you can discover in your post-college life.  The transition will be challenging, but sometimes facing and overcoming a new challenge can be one of the most fulfilling, enjoyable experiences of your life.

I’m excited for all of this year’s graduates.  Some of you will join our Community ministries at HMCC and continue to grow with us.  Some will move across the world and do incredible things for the Lord.  Wherever God takes you, I pray you will live out the mission you’ve been part of during your time in college.

Reflections on Passion Week 2014

20140421-153538.jpgIt’s Monday, and Christians around the world are slowly resurrecting after a Passion Week full of activity. I’m trying to grow in reflection and thought I’d share some of my thoughts on this past week.

  1. Prayer is powerful.  Our church has been praying together for this year’s Easter Celebration and for friends and family who would come for the entire season of Lent.  God hears and responds to our prayers, and this truth was obvious in how we saw Him working throughout the weekend.
  2. Preach the cross.  I had the privilege of preaching on Good Friday, and I was convicted that I needed to simply present the truth of what Jesus did on the cross without any embellishment.  In the end, the important thing is that we’re able to focus on Jesus, and I felt we were able to do that.  His death changes everything.
  3. Stories are powerful.  I was once told that “someone with a story is never at the mercy of someone with an argument”.  There are many people who argue against Christ, but after hearing 27 people’s testimonies at the baptism on Saturday, I think it’s undeniable that Jesus is working in their lives.
  4. The body of Christ is awesome.  So many people invested time, energy, and prayer into our church over this past week (and for weeks beforehand), and it was cool seeing everything come together.  Designers, dancers, musicians, greeters, teachers, intercessors, and so many more all used their gifts and talents to serve in specific ways.  And the rest of us all got to use smiles, conversations, and invitations to make an impact.  I love being part of a church where so many people are involved in ministry.
  5. There is real HOPE in Christ.  Pastor Seth Kim preached a great message for us from John 20:1-18, and I was reminded that Jesus really is our only true source of hope.   This hope isn’t just for those who already know Jesus, but for those all over the world who will believe in him through our testimony.
  6. It’s about community.  I enjoyed all of our services during Passion Week, and felt that God was working through all of it.  But at the same time, I’m reminded that life change really happens in community.  Easter Sunday can be a starting point, a celebration, or an encouragement, but the main event is when we begin to grow in community and live out our faith together in our daily lives.  I’m looking forward to many new people getting connected to our LIFE Groups so that they can see how we live with our hope in Christ.

He is risen!  I hope you had a great Passion Week!

Purposeful Transculturalism

I recently came across this video produced by The Village Church in Texas, and I was encouraged by their purposeful investment in ministering to people from diverse backgrounds. The video is entitled “Racial Reconciliation”, but it represents a lot of what we have been teaching about transculturalism at HMCC. Take a look:

Racial Reconciliation from The Village Church on Vimeo.

The problem highlighted in the video – the lack of diversity in the church – is obvious. And the fact that many times the secular world’s institutions exemplify greater diversity than the church makes this reality all the more tragic. I’m thankful to see other believers taking the call to reach the nations seriously at home, as well as abroad.

A couple specific observations about transculturalism from this video:

1) It’s hard. Breaking down barriers between different social groups is always difficult, and all the more so because the issues of diversity are so complex. Perseverance is needed to fight for what is valuable.

2) It takes time. It would be easy to watch this video and point out that there are still a relatively small number of minorities in the church. Personally, I applaud the church for making the effort, and we must acknowledge that change does not come overnight.

3) It’s more than race. One of the scenes of the video showed an ASL translator at the front of the auditorium during worship. It’s easy to think of transculturalism or diversity only in terms of race, but it is much more than that. God loves people with a variety of disabilities, socio-economic backgrounds, educational achievements, and cultures.

4) It’s uncomfortable. Anyone who has built a meaningful relationship with someone from a different culture knows that there can be some discomfort and awkwardness as we work through different perspectives, cultural practices, and values. But being uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel is worth it, and surrendering our own preferences is often the cost we must pay.

I’m praying for more churches to hear God’s call to reach the nations and love our neighbors as ourselves. When we can dwell in unity with one another, it demonstrates that we really are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35).