The following football play occurred in September 2012, but it was so amazing, I remember it like it was yesterday. If you’re a football fan, you’ll enjoy this description. If not, hang with me, and I’ll tie it all back in.
The ball was snapped. Immediately the nose tackle (on defense, for your non-football folks) engaged the center (an offensive lineman) and drove him back two yards into the backfield. The quarterback handed the ball to the running back, who ran towards the sideline, trying to elude the defense.
The nose tackle recognized the play, and reacted. He disengaged from the offensive lineman who was (unsuccessfully) trying to block him, and ran towards the running back. He chased him down, and tackled him for a one-yard gain.
Do you see how amazing this play was? This player was strong enough to drive back another lineman two full yards, smart enough to recognize the play, and then fast enough to pursue (and catch) the ball carrier.
Drive. Recognize. Pursue. And this guy has been living like this for longer than I’ve known him.
Check out what can happen when two churches, a business, community members, and a faithful young man partner together.
I met Dan Weidenbenner when he was a student at Furman University and I was on staff at Grace Church. At that point, we had somewhere between 100-200 college students attending our church.
Knowing this was a great opportunity to disciple the next generation, we worked to get these students more connected to the church through service, community, and discipleship. But out of all the students who attended worship services, maybe 10-15% of them wanted to be more involved than simply attending.
At that point, we had a number of options for how we could move forward:
This will be our third summer in Allendale. We’ve enjoyed the camps that we’ve led and supported, mostly because it has deepened our connection with children and families in this community. And the summer camps have even surprised us in a number of ways.
One of the biggest blessings have been the college interns that we’ve had serve alongside us. In 2011, Wes Johnson and Hannah Swoap were fantastic servant leaders in Allendale. Last summer, Joseph Berry, Greg Massullo, and Anna Marshall fit in their unique (yet equally) important niches.
Of course, Hannah and Anna became especially dear to us, as they lived with us from May – August. Even so, they were only two of the about twenty people who spent at least one night with us over the past couple of summers.
We’ve had five great college interns. This year we will have zero interns, and we hope to have lots of interns.
“Why didn’t you play pro?”
In the past two years, kids and teenagers in Allendale have asked me this question more times than I can remember. It almost always comes right after they find out that I played football in college (Furman University). Playing professional football would be the next logical step, right?
(And I’m not the only one — some of the other coaches have gotten this same question.)
But what I didn’t expect how much I personally would have gotten out of the weekend. Truth be told, I was excited just knowing how good the retreat experience would be for the guys I brought.
On Saturday morning, during my solitude time, I was directed to pray for myself. I asked God what He had for me that weekend. I expected him to speak to the guys, but perhaps He had something for me.
God answered my prayer in an unforgetful way.
Are all students going to go to college? Absolutely not. But let’s not allow this mindset drive our expectations. We can raise our standards.
As I wrote, children need a model, a vision, and a push to help them earn a college degree. I gave some initial thoughts on this subject, but I also want to share some conversations I’ve had in Allendale on this subject, especially as it relates to a family’s influence on the education of their children.
The Fairy Tale of Scholarships
Last fall, I was chatting with a second grader. I mentioned something about going to college. He replied, “I’m not going to college. My mom says it’s too expensive.”
I was telling a friend how it feels like we have just arrived in Allendale. But he simply said, “No, you’ve been there a while.”
He’s right. We are coming up on two years of being a part of this community. Two years of ministry. Two years of relationships. Two years of changes for our family.
I think it feels like time has passed quickly because of every few months, our family schedule and ministries changed. I’ve switched jobs and schedules (afternoons/evenings to mornings/afternoons to afternoons/evenings to 4 jobs taking up all day to …) numerous times.
But as I reflect on what we’ve done, it makes me wonder what lies ahead.