Welcome to the Inn 2011-2012.
Saturday, September 24, we got back from our student leadership retreat with 80 student leaders full of energy ready to make our beloved first fall Inn happen last Tuesday night. The first thing at the Inn that everyone saw was a video made by one of our own student leaders this year entitled, “Home.” (See the link above.) It was a beautiful video. And for those coming to the Inn for the first time that night, I bet they enjoyed the video. But for those of us who have made a true home at the Inn every Tuesday night, it was like watching our story be told. The Inn’s theme this quarter is starting off with the topic of I Belong. I think home is a word that summarizes belonging. Whether that be a place you gather with friends or that longing to be in our final destination.
Other student leaders of the Inn, from this year or 10 years ago, watch Adam’s video “Home,” and a lot of those who have graduated and moved on tell me they tear up because they miss this real home they had here at the Inn where they felt like they belonged. So I am excited for a new year at the Inn and a place to provide tons of new students with a place to call home in their future. I am excited to write the October blog to you followers as we work towards real life in this God we follow.
Most importantly for this week is my reminder to you all about Core Groups. I write this not as a plug but because I genuinely want to remind you blog followers that Core Groups are where all the juicy stuff happens. Whether you haven’t signed up for one and are thinking about it, or you are reading this as a college graduate and debating whether or not to become a leader, I request that you do. No, I don’t request, I demand! (Editor’s note: “I demand” = “strongly encourage.”) We are just now going through our fall application process of meeting with people applying for groups and it is going amazingly well, but I don’t want you to be left out on the two best hours of your life every week.
Cheers and talk to you soon!
Kelly Thoma, UMin intern
I joined my first Core Group when I was a sophomore in college. I remember being scared – were they going to make me pray out loud? What if I can’t find the book of the Bible they ask me to open up to? Do I have to share everything about my life with them?
I remember these feelings most poignantly this time of the year, when we offer Core Group sign-ups to college students at the Inn. As I get to meet with some of the women signing up, I’m reminded what I risk it was when I first put my name down on the Core Group list; I’m also reminded how I was certain it was all at once exactly what I needed to do and something I was terrified to do.
What gets me excited, though, is remembering the community I found in Core Groups. I was blessed by a sophomore group that gave me the freedom to pray in silence until I was comfortable enough to pray out loud with them. I was blessed by a group of women and a leader who – though they had mostly grown up in the church – would unwearyingly explain things to me I didn’t understand (and help me find the book of Isaiah when I didn’t know where to start looking). Most importantly, they let me be myself.
I actually had a couple of different groups during my 4(+) years at the UW. Both groups became places where I could let down any guards and share how I was really doing, what I was struggling with, what my questions were about God, or what frustrated me about the church. We are reminded so often in scripture of our need for community. It’s right at the very beginning of the creation story: “”It is not good for the man to be alone.” We were created to be in community. I quickly learned that my belief that faith is my private business held no water. My faith was not private at all. Personal, yes; private, no.
Not only did Core Group offer peers to grow alongside, it provided leaders to emulate, who would challenge us. Both of my leaders were valuable mentors throughout my time in college.
Core Group is the place I learned how to both challenge my faith and share my faith. I am certain that I wouldn’t have grown as much by simply going to the Inn and talking with friends when I had a chance, even though I learned a lot from the sermons and was often challenged in conversations with friends. Without the set-aside time to be intentional about learning, growing, sharing, and walking alongside others in the faith journey, I would not be the same person.
That’s why this time of year is so full of excitement and hope for me. As I see men & women come into the office to meet with staff about Core Groups, I know a lot of them are taking a big risk. But I also know from experience that the risk can change their lives.
Written by Becky R.