Reaching College Students with Matt Hammett
For many, college can be a time where young adults are deciding whether or not they are going to pursue the faith that they were raised in. For pastor Matt Hammett, he felt God wanted to use him in a new movement of worship. He founded Flood Church [San Diego] in 2000 as a place where everyone who came through the doors would be flooded with the Spirit of God. His heart is to genuinely connect with young adults about God. Risen interviewed Hammett in 2011 and talked to him about how his friends invited him to church and what he believes are the biggest pitfalls in having a faith in God.
Hammett opens up how he went from not being a Christian to wanting to be in pastoral ministry.
“I didn’t grow up in the church. Some guys I played basketball with in high school were Christians and they kept inviting me to youth group. I kept saying no, not because I didn’t want to go, but because I didn’t know what to expect in going. I was nervous someone would ask me to look up something in the Bible. I had no idea and was totally unfamiliar with the Bible. But I finally went, and I heard the essential message of Christianity explained, the Gospel. I had never heard that before, about who Jesus was, what he did, and why that matters. Shortly after, I made a decision to become a Christian. So, the condensed version is that as I began to grow in my faith, I wanted God in my life. Then came college, and I really started to love working with college students and was considering going on staff with a college ministry, like Campus Crusade for Christ. But I really felt God leading me towards pastoral ministry and about a year after I graduated college – while I was a driver for UPS – I was offered a full managerial position as a youth pastor. I was only 23 and accepted that position.”
“We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Hammett shares what he believes are the biggest pitfalls when it comes to having a faith in God.
“I would say being genuine in your faith. Love God, love people. I relished and enjoyed my time as a college student. I was a new Christian at that time and I was excited and passionate about my faith in Christ. You’re going to be distinctly different when you allow God to demonstrate his love through your world and your actions. [My advice] is to make your life about your yes’s, not your no’s. If you go in with a defensive mentality like, ‘I’m not going to endure and make it through and not fall into the pit of sin,’ I don’t think that’s a recipe for health and success. But if you go in [with an attitude like] ‘I want God to use me while I’m here, I want to learn as much as I can in terms of my studies, I want God to use my life…my yes is to Him, His plan, and His purpose,’ then you can realize there’s a lot of hurt, pain, and emptiness that’s out there. As a culture, we’ve been planting the seeds of ‘Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow, we die.’ That there is no greater purpose; life is a cosmic accident, so get all you can out of this life. But there’s a different story. The story is, ‘No you’re not a mistake. You’re the creation of a loving God who cares deeply for you and gave His life for you and has a plan and purpose for you.’”
Invite someone. Whether it is church, an outreach event, or a gathering of your friends from church, invite someone that doesn’t know Christ to join you. Pray and ask God to show you who you can reach out to. Don’t get discouraged if they decline. It often takes someone several invitations to attend an event that they aren’t familiar with. If you can answer any questions that they might have about the event that might prevent them from attending. You might even want to host or plan a BBQ or casual dinner at your house with people from your small group and each invite some friends that aren’t believers. It will give them all a chance to get to know other Christians and not be as overwhelming as going to church for the first time.
Pray. Pray for your co-workers, friends, family and classmates that don’t know Christ. Pray for opportunities to have spiritual conversations. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Pray for their hearts to be softened to the Gospel and open to God. Often times, there are things that have happened that have caused our hearts to become calloused towards God and a relationship with Him.
Adopt a student. Whether it is a local college student or a friend of your children’s, you can invite them to your home for a meal. Offer to let them do laundry at your house if they are at college. If the holidays are approaching, ask them if they have a place to go. If they don’t, invite them to be a part of your family’s celebration. You can even ask them if their family has unique traditions that you can incorporate to make them feel at home. If they are open to it, invite them to church with you.
To read our entire interview with Matt Hammett, click here.
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