by Abbie Smith and Tim Walker
An encouraging word is a big deal. It can change the whole course of your day. It can shift the way you see something or someone. It can give you the fuel to keep going. And several encouraging words? Well, when that happens, you just have to share the news with someone.
Recently, we received some encouraging words from a group whose opinion we value very highly—our XP3 College partners. We sent out a survey to find out how our partners are using the Conversation Guides, who they are meeting with and how everything is working out.
Here are a few things that we’ve learned:
Diversity of Use and Users
People are using the Conversation Guides to connect generations in a variety of ways. Some are meeting one-on-one between a college-age person (18-25) and an older adult. Others are meeting in small groups of college-age people in a home. Some are even utilizing the Guides while leading a college-age Sunday school class.
Lisa Ledeboer of In Spirit Church in Michigan says their crew, “seems to have more conversation with XP3 College than they have with other resources.” This is a key value for us. Conversations are our means of studying God’s Word and standing alongside one another’s lives.
Diane Gagne, who works with Jonathan Hutchinson at Peace Tower Church in Ontario, writes, “XP3 College complements our corporate gathering and provides the tools we need to support our campus ministry vision of building relationships through one-on-one intergenerational mentoring.”
From church classrooms and Starbucks, to dorm rooms and University dining halls, the Conversation Guides are making marks in churches, parachurch organizations and homes from countless angles.
The Simplicity of a Biblical Approach
Our goal with the Conversation Guides is to make them user-friendly and relevant, while maintaining our commitment to honoring the Scriptures. Most material today tends to err on the side of ultra-hip, or preaching at an individual, versus moving with him/her, in humility, toward truth and Kingdom-living.
Diana Gagne describes XP3 College as, “clearly laid out, with a step-by-step approach to each topic, so that it’s easy to follow. It is well supported by Scripture, and the conversation format promotes a two-way dialogue, engaging with, and involving the college-age person.”
Josh Macklin of Fellowship Church Southwest in Texas appreciates that XP3 College, “hits all the areas that students are dealing with. It helps to answer some questions, but also brings up questions for them to begin seeking out.”
And Gary Clemmons of Liberty Heights Church in Ohio, says, “I like the material, and it seems easier to use than other stuff I have used in the past.”
Simplicity and biblical sturdiness are core values for XP3 College. In an age where everyone and their mom and their mom’s cat have a new approach and answer, we want to simply and directly meet folks where they are, but with the relevance of where God has been for eternity.
The concepts of mutual fascination and transformation were introduced in the book The Slow Fade, by Chuck Bomar. Mutual transformation is the fruit of what we refer to as, “mutual fascination,” whereby you’re just as intrigued and teachable toward an 18- to 25-year-old as he/she is toward you.
In the survey, we found that both leaders and college-age people are being impacted.
Mike Duenas of Triumph Church in Texas said, “We have a diverse ethnic group of young adults who spark interest on many levels.”
Another mentor had an “aha moment” while studying one of the Conversations. “There it was—explaining to me and revealing the reason behind something I have struggled with, but have never been able to see with such clarity. I’ve also learned that honesty and vulnerability between mentor and the college-age person are not to be avoided, but rather used to facilitate greater connectedness between themselves and God.”
We’re excited to hear how a generation of college-age people are being connected not only to the heart of God, but also to the church through relationships, not just programming.