I'm 24 years old, and I just accepted a "discipleship-making" internship with the Navigators’ 20s Mission in Chicago. It's the Navs' first internship program like it in the United States. I love the community they have already fostered and will continue to create in the city, but I gotta be honest: I hadn't heard of the Navigators until March of this year, when a friend of mine from Wheaton College invited me to speak at a "Navigators' 20-something gathering" at Big Bricks Chicago. The topic at this gathering was homosexuality. He'd read the feature article I wrote for Christianity Today in January ("Hope for the Gay Undergrad"), and thought it would be helpful for me to host a small-group discussion of sorts on this controversial topic in the church with like-minded peers in a secular context.
So I went. A small group of us had a great time discussing what the church and Christian colleges can do better to love individuals who identify as "same-sex attracted" or LBTQIA in the church (read a full synopsis of the event in my April 2013 blog post). When that event was over, I realized how important it is to have these "hard" conversations - but how little it actually happens. Luckily for me, when the Navigators (an international, interdenominational Christian ministry with a branch in Chicago) recently launched that 20-somethings internship program in Chicago I mentioned earlier, I applied to become part of it--and was accepted.
Our goal? In part to continue these "controversial" conversations, and in part to grow in faith and confidence navigating life for Jesus through Scripture reading and memorization together.
Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?
Before accepting the internship, my main concern was that I'd become a bit overcommitted, but I knew all along the internship wasn't going to be about me -- it was going to be all about glorifying the God who created me. So I took it.
What it's all about
When I met with the group of nine interns and three directors for the first time last week, it was amazing. We're a diverse group containing two medical students from Loyola Chicago and UIC, a couple of girls who work in the nonprofit realm, an engineer, teacher, and nutritional scientist -- led by two fearless leaders who recently returned from serving abroad in Kyrgyzstan -- and we're ready to take on the world for Jesus, together. Here's a short list of what's coming for us between now and May 2014:
- Colorado Conference: This weekend, we're flying to Colorado Springs to attend the "20s Mission: Right Where You Are" conference - essentially, meeting a bunch of 20something Christians in Glen Eyrie who are all trying to get to know God more, and figure out how our own personal stories fit into God's eternal plan for peace, justice, and compassion to ring out on earth.
- Bible reading: The team will be reading through the entire Bible and memorizing several verses.
- Mentorship: For one hour every week, we'll be talking with one-on-one mentors about how to Navigate our lives for Jesus by working through questions about church, culture, faith, and doubt
- Discipleship: We are going to intentionally walk through what we're learning during our internships and Bible reading plans with one other person of our choosing on a regular basis
- Service & outreach: We're planning 9 service-oriented events around Chicago for the next 9 months. Any ideas to get a large group of 20somethings together to do service?? Suggestions welcome!
Some may say we're overcommitted individuals, but I believe if I ever start to feel overwhelmed, that just means I'm letting my view of God – the one who created the entire universe -- get too small. Which is impossible. My main question basically is: was Jesus overcommitted? I’d say yes. Taking on the sins of the entire world was a pretty daunting task, but he did it anyway—through blood, sweat, and tears.
I'm not Jesus, but I really love him, and know he sent the Holy Spirit down so we could accomplish some pretty awesome stuff (can I get a "what what" for Pentecost?!). His life inspires me to say to the world: bring it on - and, most importantly, to God be the glory!