Posted by: Brian Musser | July 11, 2016

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Posted by: Brian Musser | June 11, 2018

Spring 2018 Finals Week Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord God Almighty,

Our Creator, Guide and Friend, Leader of our lives and Lover of our Souls, the Giver of every good gift, our Comforter, our Hope and our ever-present Help in times of trouble.

Lord, we come to at this moment and in this place with praise and thanksgiving on our lips.  We would not have gotten this far if not for your constant presence throughout the term.  Lord, we are now able to take these exams and submit these projects because of your continued faithfulness to us over the last 10 weeks.  You have carried us up to this point and we are grateful.

Because of you faithfulness in getting us here we are confident that you will continue to be faithful.  Lord, help us during this week.  Lord, be with us in this time of testing.  Lord, walk beside us as our work over the previous time is being evaluated.

Give us the ability to perform well.  Help us to be successful.  Help us to understand the questions that are being asked.  Help us to comprehend the assignments that are being required.  Help us know what we need to do.  Give us the ability to remember that which we have learned.  Help us to be able to reproduce the knowledge within our minds clearly and coherently.  Help us not to be confused by the phrasing of questions.  Do not allow us to waste precious time on misunderstanding and frustration.

Allow us to study well.  Help us to avoid distractions.  Keep life from interrupting our designated study times.  I pray that the external chaos this week will be minimal.  Give us diligence to work hard and help that work to be fruitful.  Bless us with the wisdom when we choose which portions of the material to concentrate on and which portions we can gloss over.  Bless us with discernment as we determine how much time to dedicate to each class.  Guide and direct our decisions on when we have sufficiently studied and when we need to press on.

But also allow us to rest well.  Give us good sleep.  Help our rest to be efficient and uninterrupted.  Help us to be able to push worry and anxiety out as we try to sleep.  Allows to maintain good nutritional levels as we engage in a season of added stress.

But most importantly, in success or in failure give us the ability to see our worth not as measured by the score on a paper but measured by a Savior on a cross.  Let us know that pass or fail we are your creation and have intrinsic worth because of that.  And allow for this moment to be a moment when we consider the claims of Christ on our lives either for the first time or the millionth.  Get you glory through all that we do.

We pray this all in the precious and powerful name of Jesus the one who defeated death, AMEN

Posted by: Brian Musser | June 11, 2018

Community Based Evangelism

Often when we think about sharing our faith with others it is in the context of specific one on one conversations.  So many times it is a conversation that centers around what I believe.  But as my ministry at Drexel develops, I have come to respect the power of multiple voices testifying to the same truth.  This is not only what I believe but what WE believe.  And even more impressive is when that witness shifts from not only being what we say we believe but that community of voices is accompanied by a community of lives showing the truth of the beliefs.  This is how WE live based on what WE believe.  I have a lot of things to say to the modern day church but probably one of the most necessary messages is that we need to intentionally switch from the first person singular to the first plural in our expression of the Gospel.

As you may have read from my previous post (Defining the Church) Disciples InDeed (DID) was an impressive community in how they lived out the Gospel on an everyday basis.  There was a core group of students who each individually believed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus but also came together as a community of believers and demonstrated their beliefs to the community around them. This community attracted students to them and attracted students to Jesus.

I remember one student who came from a Christian family with a church background and was educated in a Christian high school.  He had heard the story of Jesus and the meaning of Christianity thousands of times throughout his life. He considered himself a Christian.  But after a year of involvement with the Gospel Choir he started spending a lot of time with the guys from DID, he realized that he didn’t live like they did but how they lived was what he wanted.  So he started coming to DID’s Bible Studies and Accountability groups. After a while he also realized that he really didn’t believe like they did. But the community didn’t discourage him. They loved him as one of their own.  Then week after week and day after day of processing what he had always heard but was now witnessing he realized that he believed and was working on living like they did.

When he was asked to give testimony to how he became a Christian.  He couldn’t point to one person who definitively made the difference.  He couldn’t name one time that was the pivotal moment. All he knew was that he believed that God raised Jesus from the dead and confessed Jesus as Lord and it was all because of what he witnessed in the life of a community of believers testifying to the truth of the Gospel.

Posted by: Brian Musser | June 4, 2018

Defining the Church

Often folks will use Acts 2:41 – 47 as a good description of what the church should be.

Acts 2:41-47 (NIV)  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.  They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  

New International Version (NIV)  Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In my two decades worth of ministry experience a specific group of Christian students involved with Disciples InDeed (DID) has been the closest I have ever seen to this passage being lived out.  Let me just list some of the ways they compared to the first church. DID held weekly Bible Studies that usually were spent reading and discussing specific passages. These Bible Studies were immediately followed by accountability groups and the accountability was real.  On a weekly basis students would dissect Scripture and each other’s lives for the purpose of building each other up. Then on Friday nights the student leaders would meet for several hours again studying Scripture around a specific issue in hopes to plan a monthly event that engaged their community with Gospel truth pertaining to a culturally relevant topic.  Often after spending hours meeting with each other the students would leave the meeting but continue to fellowship eating together or going to a movie or some other fun activity. These students did life together and the ministry of the DID just flowed out of that life together. But once a month after the Friday night meeting until the Saturday monthly event the students would fast and pray in preparation of publicly proclaiming the message of Christ on their campus.  

Now most of these individuals involved were African-American college students.  At times there were real needs among the community members. It is a stereotypical joke about the hungry college student.  But at times there are college students with significant financial issues. One term there was DID student who after tuition and housing had absolutely zero money available for food.  Because of the care of the group he did not spend a single dollar on food for the entire term. One person made sure they cooked enough for him on Tuesdays. Others took a different days.  When they would go out to eat the group would alternate who was responsible to pay for him. When there was an event on campus that was offering food as an incentive for attendance text messages were sent or food was saved.  Rides were provided to churches with food pantries or community meals. At other times food wasn’t the issue but housing was. There were designated couches that people could use. Some of them were occupied for months at a time.  The community leveraged what it had available to make sure the need was met. It was never an issue. It was life, life together.

Most students involved in DID claim it was an important part of them surviving the Drexel experience.  Most of them can easily point to how they came to know Christ for the first time or on a deeper level because of their time with DID.  None of them point to a specific individual or program that made the difference but to the group of students acting as the body of Christ in true community.  The community that was developed by this group of students was so winsome and powerful that the University respected and appreciated it. So many times we talk about how students need to be impacted by the Church.  I have had the experience of watching a group of students be the church in ways that most churches need to see.

Posted by: Brian Musser | May 28, 2018

You Can Say No

When I started my ministry at Drexel over a decade ago, I came to campus knowing one Christian student.  He was a commuter student from Northeast Philly. He was connected to us through his participation in Lifeway Baptist Church, which is a Russian Speaking Church near Bustleton and Grant Avenues.  Through our connections with the association of churches he heard that we were trying to start a ministry at Drexel and he wanted to be part of it. He wasn’t the stereotypical student in several ways.  He was a couple years older. He was a commuter. Although, his English was impeccable it was still his second language and he learned to think first in Russian. And for most of the time he was a student he also held down a full-time IT job with hearing aid company.  If I remember correctly, by the time he graduated he was married, living in his own apartment with a kid on the way and working towards buying a house.

After a short introductory period, he agreed to work for me as a student intern in the ministry.  There were several specific parts to the job description but as this was a very new ministry and I was still getting to know campus ministry at Drexel so there were many parts of the internship role that was “other jobs as assigned.” I believe the first year he interned for me “other jobs as assigned” was probably the largest portion of his duties.  

So to set the stage, I was a new campus minister who didn’t exactly know what I should be doing.  We were creating a ministry out of nothing in a place that did not have one previously. In this context I had a student intern that had a vague job description.  This student had a unique college experience to draw from. And finally, although it wasn’t obvious on the surface our leadership meetings were cross-cultural engagements.

Eventually, all this became apparent to me.  I remember having a meeting where I was thinking out loud with possible plans that we could do to establish a ministry reaching the campus.  I was doing what I consider brainstorming. He was agreeing with whatever I said and taking my ideas as task assignments. It didn’t matter if he liked the idea or not.  It didn’t matter if he thought the idea would work or not. It didn’t matter if he had enough time to complete the idea or not. I thought I was having great ideas and he was just on the exact same page as me.  That wasn’t what was happening.

In his culture, especially in his church, they respected ministry leaders on a level that I wasn’t prepared for.  What the pastor or other ministry leader said was to be agreed to without question. So he would just shake his head and smile as I brainstormed hoping for his input.  Several years later in an honest conversation with a Russian pastor I was told, “Brian, you don’t understand. My people still want Stalin for a pastor.”

My student and I needed to work this out.  I needed him to let me know how much time he actually had to devote to tasks.  I needed to know as a student which ideas he thought would be most effective in connecting with his classmates.  I needed him to have an opinion and share it with me. I needed to give him permission to say no. I remember specifically saying to him, “You can say no to me.”

Posted by: Brian Musser | May 21, 2018

The Gospel in the Hands of a Telemarketer

One of our largest degree programs at Drexel is the Business School.  It is always interesting to see how a business student will engage their faith while at Drexel.  At times, our Christian student groups have been run on a semi-professional level just because the students were applying classroom strategies to engage the campus with the Gospel.  Then after a year or two when the leadership transitions into a group of engineers or artists the dynamics of the group shifts.  It is always a tension to maintain a group’s identity while still being flexible to foster the ever-changing leadership styles and personalities of the students in the room.  It is fun to harness the creativity of animators, the activity of entrepreneurs, the structure of engineers and the social skills of computer programmers.

I remember taking an accountant on a ministry trip.  He had an internship where one his tasks was to sign people up for credit cards.  This required cold-calls and tabling events.  He knew how to engage people in conversations.  He was accustomed to being turned down by the majority of people with whom he initiated conversations.  He trained to keep going even when the first 50 encounters were negative experiences.  These secular skills came in handy when we decided to share the Gospel at the University of Pittsburgh.

Because Drexel is still on the quarter system our spring break happens later than most other colleges so we have taken advantage of that to go and help other campus ministries nearby.  One year we went to Pittsburgh.  One thing we were really good at was using an evangelism tool called Soularium.  This tool is 50 pictures and 5 questions.  You use the pictures to answer the questions.  During spring break, we would go and work alongside other campuses training them in how to use Soularium.  Our accountant was an expert.  I remember him saying something like, “I have been put in so many awkward situations like this only to sell a credit card.  Now I get to use my skills to start conversations to share the Gospel.  This is so much easier and more important.”

That idea stuck with me.  God can use our secular training to prepare us to be better agents for His Kingdom.  Even while being a telemarketer you might be developing skills that can be used for His glory.

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