New approach emphasizes discipleship
News | Stephen Chang
As Bethel freshmen start to adapt to their new homes, they quickly learn that there are two things that keep order in the chaos – their RA and SHIFT leaders. Every Wednesday, in teams of two or three, SHIFT leaders go to the freshmen dorms to foster spiritual conversations and mentor their assigned floors.
In the past years, SHIFT hasn't had an easily defined structure. Lesson plans were not implemented; rather, they were spontaneous, with leaders engaging their floors in individual Bible studies, conversations and different content. For the 2013-2014 year, SHIFT has undergone structural changes in the way that the program operates.
“In the past, SHIFT has had one full-time pastor, who directly oversaw the ministry and provided all aspects of leadership. This year, we’ve hired two seminary interns part time to provide discipleship for team leaders," Associate Campus Pastor Matt Runion said.
In addition to adding support for SHIFT leaders, the focus of the program has slowly moved from an emphasis on community development to discipleship.
“The changes are not revolutionary; rather, they are a change in emphasis,” Runion said. “Community at Bethel is one of those things that just naturally happens … We want to encourage people to mentor and enter into discipleship.”
SHIFT has also added support for an overlooked group of students – the commuters. Prior to this year, commuter freshmen did not have SHIFT leaders. However, for the 2013-2014 year, changes in the program have led to the creation of an entirely new team of SHIFT leaders, composed of 10 new commuter staff.
To balance both aspects of community development and discipleship, the SHIFT program has introduced Campus Alpha, a program meant to be an environment for personal development. On Wednesdays, SHIFT leaders bring their floors to the Underground for community worship and teaching in a large group setting. Afterwards, the teams head for their respective floors, meeting in small groups to discuss what they have learned in the large group.
"I think it’s cool to have the unity of SHIFT groups as a whole versus just your shift group … The community aspect is great,” said Grady Rolando, a shift leader for Nelson stairwell.
While the outcome of the changes in SHIFT has yet to be determined, both Runion and his team hope that both meaningful relationships and personal growth occur as a result of the program.