So what might it look like for H2O Church at Kent State University to “Be Fruitful and Multiply” this year? This is the question that we’ve been considering for the past week. We’ve been talking about it as we’ve gathered our Staff and student-leaders for new school year starting next week.
And we all seem to agree that it starts with sowing seeds to grow Fruit of the Spirit in our own lives. We need to seek the Lord in prayer and Bible study. We need to walk with Him. Galatians 5 says that the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… And the world needs these things so badly right now! So we need to cultivate this fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
In addition to looking inward and upward, we also want to look outward. We want to meet new people. I talked with a University official earlier this summer, and she told me that the University is preparing for a “double-freshman class” this year. Which makes sense because of the weird / online / hybrid year experienced by last year’s freshman class. So we’re trying to imagine: Double the normal number of people at Convocation and Orientation activities… Double the normal number of people at Blast-Off… Double the number of people coming on campus and looking to make friends at the beginning of the school year.
A lot of our church leadership conversations this week have been about queuing up opportunities for our people. We want them to be able to jump in and help H2O serve as a welcoming place for all these new people. But even outside of organized activities, we’re just trying to double our awareness of the people around us.
We hope to share the Good News of Jesus with our friends. But not in an unnatural, forced way. We believe that if we are growing the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and if we are getting a reasonable amount of cross-pollination along the way (making new friends), sharing the Good News will come as naturally as a plant producing seeds. It will come out of our mouths as we’re talking about everyday life stuff. Like “Oh, that reminds me of a story that I just read…” We’re praying that people will ask us for the hope that we have. Which also starts with exuding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They’ll want to know how to get that for themselves.
The New Testament of the Bible describes the Church as a young, growing family. Every day the Lord was adding to their number. And I think those dynamics are still possible today. Addition and multiplication.
Another place where we’re praying to Be Fruitful and Multiply is our Life Groups. We stumbled across something successful last year, breaking the campus down into regions made up of smaller Life Groups. There seems to be something really beneficial about the regional model that allows for a grouping of 25-50 people and a grouping of, like, twelve people. So we’re going to run that back again. Maybe with some slight adaptations along the way. But in any event, we want to encourage each other to lean into these community dynamics. As we meet new people, we want to bring them with us to our Life Groups. If people are thirsty for community after this pandemic, let’s give them something to drink! We’re looking forward to watching God help our Life Groups grow and multiply.
We’re also going to be talking more this year about an upcoming Church Plant! Which is another exciting form of multiplication: one church becoming two. We’ve got a portion of our Staff team who are gearing up for this, and they’ve got a location (Youngstown) and timeline (Summer of 2022) worked out. So it’s going to be a year of transition. Which is not usually my favorite thing. But I’m actually kind of excited about the implications for how that new church plant will impact those of us remaining in Kent.
We’re going to need to multiply leadership in our church on almost every level. We’ll need new Staff and Life Group Leaders to replace the ones who move away. New City members will also be needed to take ownership for the church: serving and giving and caring for the younger members of the church family. We’ll need new passion and vision for the campus of Kent State University and the city of Kent: reminding ourselves that the mission field is not just for the “sent” but also for the “senders.”
In any event, we want to keep thinking and talking about this phrase: “Be Fruitful and Multiply” drawn from Genesis 9. God made us for more. We’re not just supposed to survive, or eke by. We’re supposed to Be Fruitful and Multiply.