What if we rethought college plans for students who are undecided. Instead of encouraging students to explore a college setting, helping them find a church in the process, what if we directed students to find a church, and then choose a college.
Hillcrest's interim-president last year was first called into church ministry when Harland Helland glided up the stairs at Hillcrest to pull Joel Egge and a couple of his friends to Minot, North Dakota. The group of friends found a college in the area and helped plant a church that is now thriving, serving the community with a Christian day school. The church of the Lutheran Brethren hold a number of stories like this, and in looking to the future Hillcrest is finding significance in stories of the past.
Last Friday, Fifth Act Church Planting advocate Ryan Nilsen visited a Hillcrest chapel. He wasn't there to meet with Hillcrest's full student body. Instead he was waiting to gather with the twenty-plus students who are a part of Hillcrest's Evangelism Club, calling the group to consider an alternative view as they look to complete their general studies in college.
Nilsen encouraged the group to consider joining a church planting initiative, serving by being hands and feet in the communities surrounding the various churches that are working to reach their communities. The Evangelism Club is studying how to do outreach, preparing themselves with conversation tools that they will exercise on the light rail and in coffee shops in the Minneapolis area in March and April.
Nilsen fielded questions from the group as they envisioned what it might be like to be in New York City, Chicago, or other large communities for the sake of the Gospel and on mission to plan churches to impact local communities. Nilsen was impressed to hear that the school had such a vibrant club that was meeting to be equipped to share the Gospel through conversational evangelism.
As the group continues to meet there is an encouraging momentum that is building. Students are looking at their college experience as a mission endeavor, and the training they're receiving in the Evangelism club is equipping to engage their world now, and preparing them for their mission fields in the future that for some will involve planting churches in large cities to the glory of God.