Grad Students don’t have time for NSO.

kathy at CU involvement fairYes they do.  Just not as much as undergrads.

NSO.  New Student Outreach.  That’s what we used to call it in my former IVCF career. My glory days wear me out to recall. Staff teams would get our student-leaders to return a few days before classes. We’d cover every bulletin board with publicity. We’d pack all-campus events and niche events into the first week.  “Move over credit card venders!”  “Excuse me, that’s our table, Mr. ISP-Modem-Man.”

Visibility. Connections. Meeting people. Getting people to sign information cards.  Follow-up.  The world of grad students I now serve isn’t completely different. The first month of the semester is still the least impossible one for getting people to show up at a gathering. Food still seems to make it happen. I’m convinced even busy grad students like making new connections before the semester bites down hard!


Emily (student leader) and Kathy (faculty member) were a blast to be with on Creighton’s campus. We met dozens and dozens of students filing past the information tables. About 20 stopped to engage us and find out more about GFM at Creighton. A possible change this year will be moving to weekly gatherings. Every other week, Kathy will host a meal in her home. On the off-weeks Emily will lead a bible study on campus. It’s an ambitious  time commitment.  We’ll see how the group sustains throughout the semester.

When I worked with undergrads, it was a given that a student would show interest in a small group, would come to a weekly gathering for teaching and worship, and volunteer somewhere in the group. That’s just not reality for grad students. The biggest difference is selectivity.  Grad students are much more selective.  Much less included to sign up for everything and sort it out later. It’s a very big deal to have 35 grad students at your kick off barbecue (Wash-U this past week).  I was surprised to learn that at the involvement fair at Creighton two weeks ago, all 300+ new students in Pharmacy and Health care were required to attend the orientation!  Required to walk through the entire room full of displays!

Faculty Groups starting back up this fall.

Mark Hansard works with faculty members at K-State. He tells me there are two faculty groups meeting regularly. One is a book group this fall reading and discussing Augustine of Hippo, a biography by Peter Brown.  Mark writes for The Compass – the blog for ESN, Emerging Scholars Network.  Check out one of his posts at this link.

augustine of hippo

The other group is a bible study working through Colossians. Faculty groups are amazing to me because these are perhaps the busiest of busy people on campus, yet they carve out time to be together. Sometimes it takes me weeks to just get an appointment with a faculty member. When they decide to spend time in a study group, book group or a missional prayer gathering, they’re not looking for a way to burn free time. They’re intentional. Pray for Christian faculty members at my school. Ask God to keep them focused, refreshed and engaged in the kingdom of God right in the midst of their departments.

jake tim big jay

Jake Evans and I hanging out at KU a couple weeks back!

Recent and Upcoming…

  • Connecting with Dr. Peter Szto at UNO this fall and Shelby – one of his new MSW students.  Thinking and praying about a possible group among other MSW students.
  • Campus visit to St. Louis coming up Sept 18-20.  Three campuses.  Three staff.  I’ll also connect with two staff potential folk.
  • Planning a trip through Iowa Sept 25-28 – University of Iowa, possibly meeting some Drake faculty in Des Moines a friend of mine is colleagues with, and a visit with the undergrad ministry Central Regional Director.
  • My link to the 2030 Calling now plays the video.  Click here to watch if you didn’t catch it from my previous post.
  • Wait.  I almost forgot! My daughter Phoebe’s wedding!  Yikes that one is sneaking up on us.  September 9th.

Ryan Brehm and Phoebe Perry, Sept 9th Missouri Valley, IA



Rock Chalk…Jayhawk…KU!

e h s baileyWhen you look at this guy’s picture what goes through your mind?  Probably not “Oooo, that’s the guy who invented that catchy cheer they use down in Lawrence!”  That’s the dude!  Looks more like a chemistry professor.  That’s because that’s what he was.  According to his granddaughter (and KU librarian) Prof. E. H. S. Bailey and a group of students in the science club  devised the cheer circa 1886.  It’s unclear if they invented it for sporting events or interscholastic science fairs!  Check it out for yourself if you’re a KU fan!

My first campus visit to KU.

I’ve never been to Lawrence, KS.  People who’ve lived there absolutely love it. We once had next door neighbors who moved to Omaha from Lawrence. It’s all they could talk about. Lawrence. Lawrence. Lawrence. They lasted about 5 years in Omaha, and decided they had to move back. Was it us? Was it Omaha?

Jake Evans is our staff member at the University of Kansas. He’s beginning his fourth year with GFM. I’m excited to have Jake show me around campus and introduce me to the cool town he lives in. We’ll cover a bunch of stuff in our conversations tomorrow. Supervisors typically want to know how life and ministry are going for staff.  I’m convinced the best way to encourage a team mate is to spend time with them in their context. This is my second campus visit since taking this role with GFM. I’m amazed at the way my team serves. We’re very spread out geographically. We’re potentially very isolated. Yet, we’re united by InterVarsity’s passion to reach every corner of every campus. Face to face time is so sparse it’s like gold to me!

Jake and I will have some time to talk about strategy for growing GFM. What could our 2030 Calling look like moving forward on his campus? Our work at the University of Kansas is a wide open field at the moment. What will it take to gain momentum with Grad Students? How can we expand our network of known Christian faculty members? Jake has conducted his first Veritas Forum last spring [link] how can we build on that? When we dream of InterVarsity’s ministry expanding in Kansas more broadly, what role could our work in Lawrence play in that?

It’s a balance. What is God doing at the grass-roots level right now? What does he long to do through his people into the future?  Pray for Jake and I have a great day together.  My rental is in the driveway waiting to take off at 6:30 in the morning!

From KU Jayhawks to Creighton Jays

Thursday I’ll be helping a Creighton faculty member with a New Student Outreach event. We’re going to have an information table at a back to school involvement fair for the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions.  Kathy Padilla and her husband Rene have been faculty sponsors for InterVarsity’s undergrad work for many years. Recently, God has been bringing some terrific Christian grad students to the Occupational Therapy program. Kathy invited me to help her meet people and gather contact information.  Last year there was a group of over 20 OT students involved in a monthly study-group the Padillas hosted in their home. We’re eager to reconnect with some of them and even more eager to meet new people interested in GFM at Creighton.

After I get back in the office next week, I’ll have to catch you up on the past few weeks.  I attended Regional Staff Conference with the South Central GFM team in North Carolina then headed to Cedar Campus for a week of vacationing and teaching Bad Company Christology!  Catch you later.  Thanks for reading.

milkweed monarch