Let’s follow Jesus together

The pandemic changed everything. 

From the way we worked to the way we socialized, our personal and communal lives underwent a number of strange alterations. Our resulting amorphous reality beheld differences in the way we practiced our Christian faith, impacting church attendance the hardest.

No longer were we able to gather face-to-face with fellow believers to worship the Lord and sit under his teaching. Instead, many of us were confined to solitude within the four walls of our rooms, watching our pastor give a fiery sermon behind a screen to an in-person audience of one. 

Here at APU, chapel changed as well. Our chapel bands and campus pastors led worship and ministered the Scriptures faithfully, all the while not receiving the normal audio-visual feedback of a live audience for an entire year. Yet, with in-person corporate worship now setting new rhythms, students of our university have a fresh opportunity to reinvigorate their relationship with Christ through community discipleship.

So, here are a few reasons why you should consider getting involved:

You Will Find Community

When I arrived at APU as a wide-eyed freshman, one of the stabilizing routines of my first year was D-group. Several other freshmen guys and I gathered together to study the Bible, see how it applied to our lives and support one another in our respective walks.

One of the most amazing aspects of my group was our variety of backgrounds. Some of us were raised in military families; others, in a pastor’s home. Our differences provided room for us to expand our worldviews, and our various perspectives on Scripture helped us sharpen one another’s views (Pro. 27:17). 

Yet, not everything was so austere and serious. We went on hikes together, shared meals and begged Disneyland employees to “make magic” for us—which actually worked! The memories I made will always have an impact on me. 

You Will Be Equipped to become a Culture Changer

In the midst of a sinful and fallen world, we need young men and women of God to spiritually affect our society for generations to come. 

Our culture tends to glorify the mind and body, leaving out the reality of the spirit, though it is a vital part of our human existence. How do we recognize what our spirit needs, and what do we do about those needs?

“A lot of us grew up knowing how to brush our teeth, clean ourselves and take care of our bodies, but not everyone has had someone to model how to take care of our spirit,” commented Pastor Rebekah Loufik, Discipleship Mentoring Coordinator for the Office of Campus Ministry. 

“Identity and self-awareness are key … We don’t even know how hungry we are spiritually because, oftentimes, we haven’t learned how to recognize, listen to or care for our spiritual selves.”

Through participation in D-groups or mentoring, you will be surrounded by fellow believers who want to model proper soul care and encourage you as you form your own spiritual habits. 

In my own mentoring ministry, I have done my best to walk alongside my mentee, showing him different methods to engage with the Lord on a daily basis. Through our weekly meetings, he has grown from a newly baptized Christian to a mature believer in a matter of months. At the start of the school year, he was able to read the Scripture; but now, he is able to articulate the meaning of the Scripture to others. He understands that his role as a disciple is not just to be a disciple, but also to disciple others. 

“Discipleship is the art of recognizing you are so much more than a do-er. You were created to be, to discover who Christ is and who you are,” said Pastor Loufik. 

Participating in campus ministry as a disciple or disciple-maker is just the first step in making this crucial discovery. And not only do you have the ability to shape our culture at large, but you can shape APU’s culture in a very particular way.

“We’re solidifying and naming our culture as a campus,” Pastor Loufik remarked, encouraging students to get involved in the process.

For instance, our group of peer mentors decreased from 20 mentors in spring 2020 to five in spring 2022. If you are an upperclassman, you can help name APU’s culture by signing up to serve as a mentor with the Office of Campus Ministry. Our Campus Ministry staff team of pastors will equip you to walk alongside a younger believer, offering them wise counsel and supporting them as they try to be like Christ. 

You Will Learn How to Walk in the Spirit

Galatians 5:25 reads, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” 

The central message of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is that followers of Christ are not to abide by the Law, but by the Spirit. We attain justification through the imputed righteousness of Christ, not through our own works. In light of this gospel truth, we must indeed keep in step with Spirit. 

“We can keep looking at our rule books and just do our Christian walk alone, but because we have been graced to live a life in the Spirit, we now have access to so much more,” commented Pastor Loufik concerning the freedom we have in Christ. 

“Jesus’ death and resurrection have made us a new person (Col. 3:3) and you now get to discover who that person is through discipleship relationships. You get to learn how to grieve, how to love, how to question, how to feel, how to discern … You get to walk in step with Jesus and others day by day, working out your salvation. It’s not just about following rules.”

We who serve in discipleship want to help you grow into a free, joyful and convicted disciple-maker. This is what our Lord desires for you as well: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18b-20).