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April 27, 2022

CU Lumine Prepares Students for Service

By Anne Kerhoulas, Staff Writer

 

Stan Thomas assumed the ministry director position at Christian Union Lumine on Columbia’s campus in January of 2020. Little did he know, in the coming months the students he was just beginning to connect with would be soon scattered across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years later, however, Thomas is faithfully leading and equipping students at Columbia with the gospel and preparing them for a life of discipleship and service. 


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In the spring of 2021, Thomas and the student executive team found themselves identifying leaders in the ministry who would begin training over the summer remotely and, assuming everyone returned to campus in the fall, would assume the ministry team leader positions that are the foundation of CU Lumine. Thomas knew that the fall of 2021 would be an especially important semester both for students and for the ministry, so he wanted to begin leadership training as soon as possible to enter the fall with a gospel vision and unity among the student leaders.


In order to connect with leaders and begin shaping them as Christian leaders, Thomas designed a leadership development curriculum intended to last until the spring of 2022. He selected topics that would both help firm up theological foundations as well as challenge students to apply their faith to the realm of leadership. Because he is the only ministry faculty member at CU Lumine, he knew group gatherings and discussions would be essential.


1 A COL Students exec editedThe CU Lumine student executive team in prayer Thomas started summer 2021 sessions remotely, laying down a basic understanding of the gospel to then begin to discuss how it transforms us into godly leaders. Though many students who serve as leaders with Christian Union have prior leadership experience, most have not thought deeply about what Christian leadership looks like. Thomas began by laying a foundation of basic leadership principles and how we practice them as Christians who are marked by Christ and led by His Spirit.


Once students returned to campus in the fall semester, Thomas led them through other important leadership topics like the principles of conflict resolution, how to go deeper in prayer, project management and how to plan a good event, and others. Students also read books throughout the year like Gentle and Lowly, by Dane Ortland, a John Maxwell book on leadership, and A Praying Life, by Paul Miller. 


“Reading Gentle and Lowly was helpful because students were able to see how the cross gets bigger in their life the more they pursue God,” says Thomas. “As they pursue God through the reading of Scripture, prayer, worship, and community, the sense of our own depravity grows along with a picture of God’s holiness, but the gap is bridged through the cross. Christian maturity is dependent on God always.”


These studies and resulting conversations led to valuable insights for students as they considered how to pursue excellence in leadership as followers of Jesus as well as how to lead other believers. 


“The topic of conflict resolution garnered the most response. We did that topic early on but it was pertinent to where they were as leaders,” recalls Thomas. “Working with different individuals that all come with different leadership skills created natural disagreements, but to be able to navigate that in a gospel-centered way was helpful.”


Student leaders also attended a one-day retreat where they spent time as a leadership team, continued their discussions, studied Scripture together, and took time out of their busy semester to pray for their respective teams. 


But in spite of the regular leadership meetings, Thomas believes it was the one-on-one discipleship that bolstered and solidified what students were learning about leadership. 


“I have seen leaders grow in their love for disciplines in fasting, prayer, and scripture reading. I have seen leaders begin daily intake of God’s word—something they did not do before,” reports Thomas. “A few students have started the discipline of fasting once, twice or even three times a week and seeking the face of God. I have seen leaders be able to handle conflict better with their peers.”


Praise God that students are making strides in not only their abilities as leaders but in their love of God and devotion to Him!

RELATED: Want to go deeper in your faith? Click here to receive a free download of Christian Union’s "Seeking God Lifestyle” Bible Course Manual.

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