Impact 2016 now has all of its staff! Five hundred and fifty-five student staff have been prayed for and selected for the specific purpose of serving freshmen by connecting them to existing Bryan/College Station communities. Recently, the entire staff of Impact 2016 gathered for the first time to pray for the class of 2020, to worship together, and to learn what it means to serve with Impact.
Impact's annual First Staff Retreat was held the weekend of March 5 and was a wild success. From games and videos to speakers and breakout sessions, it was a time for our staff to rest from their duties as students and begin to contemplate what being an Impact staff member actually looks like. Training topics included everything from the qualities of a good counselor to the value of community. One common thread wove all of our varied training endeavors together, though: Impact's passion for serving freshmen by connecting them to local churches.
Over the past few years, Impact has refocused its ministry by stressing the importance of local church membership, both for staff members and freshmen. As our greatest desire is to see freshmen understand the Gospel and encounter the Body of Christ during their time in college, we acknowledge that local churches are the best-equipped institutions for carrying out this task. Freshmen can learn, grow, and be trained by local churches while they form relationships with not only other college students but with every kind of believer that exists in the Body. Mitchell Welch, the College Minister at Antioch Community Church, puts the importance of freshmen finding security in the local church this way: "Entering into Texas A&M as a freshmen is like being thrown into a massive ocean, without any land in sight. Getting plugged into a local church is like being rescued and put into a boat. A boat that is strong, healthy, filled with other people, and moving in the right direction (towards Jesus). Without the boat, most will drown."
We at Impact are passionate about connecting freshmen to communities of believers that will grow and challenge them during their time in college. There are no better institutions to do just that than the local churches of Bryan/College Station. With that in mind, we encourage our staff to understand exactly why the local church is so important by making it an integral part of their lives in college. Our hope is that by doing so we will set up the freshman classes of 2020 and beyond for college careers that are characterized by a desire to know God and love His people.
A LASTING IMPACT
One of the most influential moments in the life of a freshman may occur at a little-hyped event on day 3 of retreat. "Ministry Fair was where I was first exposed to true community," says Alpha Levi counselor Libby Long '19. "I was able to see the body of churches in the B/CS area come together and love the class of 2019." Ministry Fair has been at the core of the Impact experience since our ministry's inception. The concept of bringing churches and Christian ministries with all types of missions and make-ups to one location for the sake of freshmen belies our greatest desire as members of Impact, that our freshmen would find a place where they are known and can know others as they grow in Christ.
And as Ministry Fair grows (44 ministries and churches attended in 2015!), one of the unforeseen consequences of that growth has been the modeling of Christian unity exhibited by all of the attending ministries. There is no competition at Ministry Fair. There are no winners and losers. There are only leaders in ministries that genuinely desire to serve freshmen and help them build a community of people to run the race of college with. And best of all, our freshmen are beginning to notice this Gospel-driven cooperation. "They all desired for us to get plugged in...," Long continued, adding, "No matter where it was we found to plug in." Many freshmen are now seeing the Gospel's message of unity played out not only in their counselors but in the ministries they've often never heard of, and that's a reason to be excited!