Keeping Christ at the Center: Priority # Update and Goals

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1 Keeping Christ at the Center: Priority # Update and Goals At NU, our spiritual and academic vitality, vocational training, and societal engagement all originate from (our relationship with) Jesus Christ. Through the Strategic Planning process, we institute goals to keep ourselves on track with these priorities and make faith integration a hallmark of an NU education and service to the Kingdom of God and society a fixture of our institution. Team Lead: Phil Rasmussen Members: Dr. John Bangs, Dr. Wayde Goodall, Christian Dawson, Rick Engstrom, Teresa Regan, Dr. Clint Bryan, Megan Reese Assessment of Priority 1 Goals for the Academic Year The overarching theme of this year was making intentional programmatic and cultural changes to more thoroughly integrate spiritual vitality and formation into all aspects of Northwest University, effectively collaborating across departments to facilitate rich expressions of our faith. To that end, chapel credits were renamed to Spiritual Life Credits, and the 35 required credits can now be attained through a greater diversity of events. In the fall semester, there were 66 opportunities for spiritual life credit; in the spring semester there were 80 opportunities. Along with the well-established Monday night Pursuits, Wednesday and Friday morning chapel services, and weekly life group options, students can now choose to attend Monday Morning Devos, led by staff and faculty members. The theme for the spring semester was Devotions from the Classics, with staff and faculty shared from the likes of A.W. Tozer, William Shakespeare, St. Augustine, St. Benedict, and more, and an average of 60 students in attendance. Feedback indicates that this option was especially appreciated by commuter students and helped relieve stress about meeting the Spiritual Life requirement. Several events outside of the Campus Ministries department received spiritual life credit this year, including the Wellness Fair hosted by the Wellness Center, the Faith in Humanities Conference, and a Prayer Path in the residence halls during the week leading up to Easter. These inter-departmental events helped achieve our goal of deepening spiritual vitality across campus and creating a culture of growing in the knowledge of our faith together. We hosted our annual Pursuit Conference, bringing in Pastor Krist Wilde from Capital Christian Center in Idaho, and David Perkins and Jon Egan, founders of Desperation Youth Ministry and Desperation Band at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The conference focused around prayer and hungering for God in deeper ways, and during the follow-up Holy Spirit series in chapel, 61 students were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The Campus Ministries department administered the Spiritual Assessment Survey bi-annually, in the first chapel service of each semester. The purpose of the survey was to gauge which aspects

2 of Christian faith and practice are thriving at NU and which areas needed further support. Below is the side-by-side comparison of the fall and spring semesters. 618 students (traditional freshman through seniors) filled out the survey in the fall: o 61% perceived Christ becoming more the center of their life over the past year o 51% became more confident in their grasp of Scripture over the past year o 42% participated more in corporate worship off campus over the past year o 40% became more involved in ministry over the past year o 36% increased their personal devotional life over the past year o 35% were more intentional in sharing the gospel with unbelievers over the last year o 34% participated more in corporate worship on campus over the past year o 27% increased their financial giving and generosity over the past year 588 students (traditional freshman through seniors) completed the survey in the spring. o 54% perceived Christ becoming more the center of their life over the past semester o 48% became more confident in their grasp of Scripture over the past semester o 26% participated more in corporate worship off campus over the past semester o 26% became more involved in ministry over the past semester o 34% increased their personal devotional life over the past semester o 25% were more intentional in sharing the gospel with unbelievers over the last semester o 40% participated more in corporate worship on campus over the past semester o 19% increased their financial giving and generosity over the past semester Since the fall survey asked students to consider their past year, while the spring survey asked them to consider their past semester, the spiritual growth reported in the spring was slower. However, taken as spiritual growth built upon the results reported in the fall, it is a good indication that students are growing in many areas of their faith here at NU, and that we can continue to challenge them in deeper ways moving forward. Recognizing that a large portion of our NU family is comprised of adult evening students and graduate students, we sought ways to foster their spiritual formation this year. In the fall, we hosted Dr. Frank Turek from CrossExamined, a competent apologist for the Christian faith, and invited non-traditional students to attend his September 10 evening session. On Saturday, March 19, we hosted our first non-traditional student chapel. John Bangs took point on this event and hosted an incredibly well-received service. Between 120 and 150 persons attended. They were provided with snacks and drinks, and ushered into a time of worship, Scripture reading and a message, all led by our own staff and faculty. Anecdotal reports showed that the experience was overwhelmingly positive for many: Dr. Don Doty, Professor of Business Management, said, My class really enjoyed the time, especially the worship The goodness and grace of God was manifest in and through all of us.

3 Jared Fritz, who works directly with students in the Adult Evening Program said, I couldn t believe how many AE students hadn t set foot in our chapel. It seems like this format of chapel service will be a great way to incorporate the spiritual vitality aspect of NU s mission into the AE program. Students were asked to fill out an evaluation survey in their afternoon classes, after the chapel service, and their scores were marked on this scale: Excellent (5), Very Significant (4), Significant (3), Somewhat (2), Not at all (1). Here are the results of the 75 surveys returned: Questions: To what degree was the overall experience of the Chapel service helpful or inspiring to you? Score: 4.21 To what degree did the time of singing in worship give you a sense of closeness to God? 4.17 To what degree did the spoken message prove helpful or inspiring to you? 4.09 To what degree did the service provide a sense of connection and community with other students in the program? How well did the time-frame for the service work within your class experience? To what degree did the beverage service and snacks meet your needs for the morning break time? Student comments included recommendations to hold the service first thing in the morning, to provide breakfast, and to make the event optional, with many people expressing their appreciation for the event and a desire for more like it. Besides providing an opportunity for adult evening students to spiritually grow together, all of our international students were provided with a beautiful Bible when they returned from winter break. The leather-bound, ESV Study Bibles were considered a respectful and lovely gift and were well-received. We continued to encourage students to participate in the Kingdom of God beyond our own community. We hosted our annual church fair in conjunction with the first chapel of the year last fall, and always provide a directory of local churches on the Campus Ministries Eagle page. We hosted the annual START Conference last fall, organized by the Assemblies of God Church Multiplication Network. Many students were inspired to participate in church planting after listening to our three speakers. In terms of local missions, students have been mentored into the formation of two new outreach teams, one working with at-risk-youth and one supporting children in the foster care system. These exist alongside our continuing groups focused on homeless outreach, ending human trafficking and slavery, praying for the nations, and our campus chapter of One Day s Wages.

4 In the realm of global missions, we have seven teams of 59 students and staff going to locations across the globe this summer: Italy, England, Papua New Guinea, Oregon, Costa Rica, Austria, and a West Coast evangelism trip. This number of global missions participants is a 210% increase from participants in the school year. Priority 1 Goals for the Academic Year Goal 1: Further integrate our spiritual development approach into the NU experience Graduates of Northwest University should truly feel that Christ was at the center of their time here in every way. As a university with the soul of a church, we will provide every incoming student with a personal Bible that will represent our commitment to God and His Word as they begin their time at Northwest. We intend to continue working collaboratively across departments so that every aspect of attending Northwest University is connected to our Christian faith. In particular, Student Development, Residence Life, and Campus Ministries are focused on connecting more regularly and intentionally to create holistic experiences during events such as Pursuit Conference or the relationship series in chapel each spring. Students will have topics they hear in chapel reinforced in other settings, such as chapel discussion life groups on their floors to facilitate application of messages, prayer rooms set up in the dorms during conferences, or panels hosted in conjunction with a chapel series. Goal 2: Continue assessing spiritual vitality on campus Having successfully administered the Spiritual Assessment Survey at the beginning of both semesters last year, we will be able to compare the previous year s results to the coming year. We will continue to use this survey to inform programmatic changes and topics and issues addressed on campus. Our particular hope is to provide this survey to non-traditional students in the fall and spring next year in order to gain a more informed understanding of their spiritual needs. Goal 3: Evaluate and respond to the spiritual needs of the student body Based upon last year s Spiritual Assessment Survey, students have indicated a need to know the Bible better, how to be more confident in their faith, and how to live it out with integrity. To that end, chapel series for the school year will include apologetics in a post-modern society, aspects of a true Gospel community, and teaching through one book of the Bible per semester. In addition to corporate gathering times, we have put together a task force addressing the issue of pornography and sexual addictions on campus. Another need of the student body is access to chapel services via podcast, and we intend to finalize the production of those services before the academic year begins. Goal 4: Intentionally integrate non-traditional students into NU spiritual life The Adult Evening chapel committee will evaluate the March 19 non-traditional student chapel and continue planning ways to foster spiritual formation amongst that population. In addition, they will consider how to include graduate students in this equation. Another very important sector of our campus is our international students, who need to be more intentionally integrated into our community and into spiritual growth. The chapel planning committee is looking for

5 speakers that represent our diverse demographics, and will collaborate with the International Department to facilitate post-chapel discussion groups and Bible studies.

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