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The weekly exhortation to “cheerfully, regularly, and humbly give of your time, talents and treasures,” as written in the church covenant, is one that New Life members have heard over and over again. Some college students may see this encouragement as daunting or difficult, but there are college-aged members at New Life who seek to serve and love families in the church well by giving of their time.
Small community groups, called Life Groups, gather weekly with the goal of building community by loving neighbors, bearing each other’s burdens, and making disciples of all nations. Life Groups are designed to establish the type of multi-generational community that Paul writes about in 2 Timothy 1:5. “ I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”. Life Groups are a common place where college students and families’ lives intersect. Angela Hanson shares how in her time at New Life she has grown in her understanding of service.
“I now see time as the biggest commodity that I can give others, and it doesn’t cost me anything. Becoming more service-minded has made me more productive for the gospel.”
This semester Angela purposely opened her schedule so that she would have more time available to serve families. On a regular basis Angela is able to care for Nathan and Rebekah Forbes’s children so that they are able to lead a Spanish Bible study. “Although I’m not directly sharing the gospel with someone, babysitting for a family so that they can share the gospel allows me to join in the Lord’s work,” Angela says.
While Angela focuses to meet tangible needs of families in the church, she recalls how she too benefits from serving, “I am so blessed by it. I get to spend time with families, be discipled by them, and see them set an example of leading their family.”
For college students who are interested in learning to serve and love families, Angela offers the advice, “Look in your Life Group, that’s the purpose of a smaller community. I think it’s good to serve three or four families really well rather than trying to serve everyone. ”
New Life staff intern Trent Cannon sees his role in serving and loving families in the church as an opportunity to build relationships with their children. Trent’s goal isn’t just to build friendships with families, but rather he sees the community as a chance to make disciples. “I don’t think moments of sharing truth and being able to speak the gospel can happen apart from knowing the child well.”
In addition to volunteering with the youth each week, one way that Trent makes time to get to know students well is through his Life Group. Eleven-year-old Josh Price is one student that Trent says he has gotten to know well from time together in both youth and Life Group. With a big grin Josh recalls, “We play Mario-cart and football. Mr. Trent even lets me ride in the front seat of his car!”
Josh’s parents Ryan and Sara Price are able to identify how they have seen their son Josh and other children respond well to college students. Reflecting on Life Group Ryan says, “Sometimes I’ll look in the backyard and see a college student playing with the kids without our prompting. They meet them on their level.”
Sara adds, “Our boys feel a part of the group because of the way college guys pay attention to and roughhouse with them.”
Trent hopes that more college students will learn the value of serving families,
“Church isn’t about just coming, sitting, and working on yourself. It’s also about giving. As a single college student, you have so much time that can be used to bless families.”