Author info: As a recent graduate with her degree in Cross-Cultural Studies from Toccoa Falls College, Brittney has been on staff with Chi Alpha at American University since Fall 2015 with her husband, Josh. This small-town Georgia native has embraced urban life,  and become part of the big city. She has a heart for international students and a passion for exploring new cultures - specifically trying new international foods. In her spare time, Brittney enjoys taking short trips to new places and scouring local thrift stores for a new project. She is passionate about having deep conversations, and about creating home wherever she is. You can connect with her via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

As campus missionaries working at American University, we are continually challenging our students to have deeper and more meaningful conversations. Often our default is to remain in the realm of small talk, surface level interactions become our normal, and in turn we suffer from a deplorable lack of depth in our daily interactions with those around us. There are many reasons that could be pointed out that create this culture of relational complacency, but I believe that we are often battling a simple lack of knowledge. We must realize that as Christians, when we allow ourselves to indulge in relational complacency, we not only penalize ourselves, we miss opportunities to engage others in gospel centered conversations. Simply put, we are missing opportunities to share the love of Jesus with those that we come in contact with on a daily basis! 

Online fundraising for Reach the City - 2016

We often find that students, once engaged and challenged to overcome the anxieties that cause them to disengage initially, are simply unsure of how to ask questions that create a gospel centered conversations. As XA staff we all individually have our go to questions to engage students in deeper conversation, and to help us personally take our relationships to a deeper level with those that we are walking with in discipleship relationships. Whether in conversation with a believer or a non-believer, we believe that there are a few questions that can help anyone to have greater success in creating conversational and relational depth that opens windows for the gospel. It takes a bold step to take a surface level conversation to a deeper level, but we know that the rewards can be great. 

We would love to share several of these simple questions with you below: 

Questions to ask non-believers or those who you are unsure of their religious background:

“Do you have much of a spiritual background?”  
Their follow up questions include:
-    “Does your background have any impact on you now?” 
-    “What people have most shaped your beliefs?”
-    “What’s most influenced you to come to your current conclusions?

“What do you think about Jesus?”
Other related questions include:
-    “What have you heard about Jesus/ Christianity?”
-    “Are you a spiritual person?
-    “Have you ever thought about God in your life before?”

Questions to engage believers on a deeper level: 

“What are you learning in your time with Jesus this week?”
Other related questions include: 
-    “What are you learning in your bible reading this week?” 
-    “Do you have a devotional time? Tell me more about it.”

“How does your Christian faith impact your life on a regular basis?” 
Other related questions include: 
-    “How does your faith effect your work life?”
-    “In what ways do you practice your faith regularly?” 
-    “How big of an impact does your faith have on your relationships?”

We hope that these help you to engage someone within your influence on a deeper level this week!

Published on July 27, 2016 • Short Link:

GUEST POST From time to time, we have special guests whose voices we totally love sharing with you. This is a post from Seth Collins, he is a bearded man with a heart of gold who currently serves on staff at Yale Chi Alpha. HIs wonderful wife Brooke, used to live in DC and work with Chi Alpha, so even as we root her on, we miss her deeply! You can follow him on Twitter and Medium.

Find Part 1 here:

It was late November and around 11pm on a Friday night. I was getting ready for bed after an exhausting week of study and ministry. Scrolling through Facebook to get one last glimpse of what my Facebook friends were up to, I received a group message notification from my small group. One of the guys decided that it would be a terrific idea to go hiking up a mountain to catch a meteor shower... 

At 11pm. In November.

Being an introvert, my initial reaction was to say, "You guys have fun; I'm calling it a night." But, then I recognized that it would be my co-leader's birthday, and I didn't want to be that guy who bailed out when everyone else didn't. 

So, I put my warm clothes on and got in the car to go on this nocturnal adventure. Even though the hike to the top was just over a mile, it was much harder to get there because 1.) it was dark and we had to use our phones to see where we were putting our feet, and 2.) there was ice on the rocks that we would be walking across. 

What was I getting myself into?

Several minutes later, we're at the top and the wind was just ripping through us. It was so cold. We all clung to the rocks as best we could, trying to find some kind of shielding from the wind. At first, I thought to myself, this is crazy; I could be home right now in my warm bed. 

But then I looked up and saw the stars. 

The night firmament was incredible. I'd never seen so many stars in my life!

We started counting how many shooting stars we saw as we watched them race across the night sky. I think we lost count at around 15.

Before we made the trek back down to warmth and security, a couple of the guys from the group had hiked up the mountain with provisions: one guy had a grill strapped to his back. Another had a bag of charcoal and a dozen eggs. They were on a mission to scramble some eggs and enjoy the co-leader's birthday before heading back down!

We ate, traveled back down, and drove home.

I could have missed all of that if I'd chose to stay at home. I could've missed the memory, the laughs, the frozen chatter, the blanket of stars, and the eggs! But I went because God sometimes reveals His character and nature in such a way that reading a textbook can't fully convey. You have to get out and engage people! Engage the world around! The disciples were role models in such endeavors and, because of their companionship with Jesus and their actions, they helped change the world we live in.

The third aspect of being a small group leader is actually my second point.

2. Mentorship

I don't know if I can say enough about one-on-one discipleship (or sometimes referred to as mentorship). I love it. If there were one aspect of ministry that I could do for the rest of my days, it would be this. 

Through mentorship, I learned how to process life with students on an individual basis. The space and meeting would create an atmosphere that would allow them to ask more personal questions that they might not feel comfortable with asking in a small group setting. 

They would often ask questions about my life or how I handled a certain situation. This would create inner-reflection on my part and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the graces that I'd forgotten about or didn't appreciate as much. A perk for being in a mentoring relationship! 

Again, being an introvert, it's tough to engage a crowd, but a one-on-one setting is entirely different. Sure, there's always small talk to get through, but when you get to the deep stuff, then it gets exciting!

Mentorship created a deeper need to be vulnerable with the young men I was meeting with. By modeling vulnerability, I allowed the student to be as vulnerable as I was allowing myself to go. I couldn't ask them to do something that I wasn't willing to do myself. (Note: you should have wisdom in what you're willing to share. No need to air all your dirty laundry, but having something on the clothesline helps build rapport with your mentoring relationship.)

Mentorship also created deeper friendships. Five years later, I'm still good friends with the co-leaders I led my first small group with. I'm still friends with some of those guys that were in the group. I've been in one of their weddings, I've had a weekly home when I served as Interim Director for VCU Chi Alpha from one of them, and nearly all of them have been so impacted by my involvement with Chi Alpha that they have supported me financially.

You can go down the street and ask someone else what discipleship means to them and they could give you a totally different answer than what I just did. But, for me, small groups and mentorship are the key elements of building a discipleship culture: a culture that invites both insiders and outsiders to engage in the God-man, Jesus Christ, and to follow His teachings and lifestyle.

Published on July 14, 2016. • Short Link:

AuthorBlane Young