This year’s chapel theme of Walking in the Spirit was chosen by BJU president Steve Pettit from a passage of Scripture in Galatians 5.
Coinciding with this new theme are several changes to prayer group, which was restructured and renamed “discipleship group” in an effort to create a universitywide “community of edification,” said Dr. Eric Newton, dean of students.
By God’s providence, this new focus on discipleship, which was announced in the spring, perfectly aligns with Pettit’s theme, which was chosen this summer.
Creating discipleship groups wasn’t just an excuse to rename prayer group. According to Deborah Nystrom, a group leader in May Gaston, discipleship group will be more focused than prayer group.
“There is an end goal in sight—to work together to be more like Jesus,” Nystrom said.
While Pettit has planned a campus wide study of this semester’s key passage—Galatians 5—in chapel, students will have the opportunity to study the passage in greater detail in their discipleship group.
Discipleship groups will meet six nights per week, excluding Friday night, to share what the Lord is teaching them and to pray. Specifically, Saturday night will focus on missions and Sunday night will focus on the messages students hear in their local churches.
But, unlike the prayer groups of the past, a bell will no longer end discipleship group at 10:45 p.m. In addition, after discipleship group ends, students can be out of their rooms until 11:30 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends.
But renaming prayer group and changing the curfew rules aren’t enough. According to Newton, the right mindset is a prerequisite for effective discipleship. “If we are convinced that God’s purpose for our lives is to bring Him glory by working for others’ good and making disciples, then we’ll be in a position to care about those in our group, even the ones with whom we don’t have as much in common.”
However, Newton doesn’t want day students to feel left out of this inter-student fellowship. For day students hoping to be involved in a discipleship group, Newton recommends they join with a residence hall friend or form a group with friends from church or society.
With this inner-web of encouragement and edification, Newton believes Galatians 5 will come to life on campus. “Discipleship won’t happen just because Dr. Pettit preaches good sermons on Galatians 5 in chapel,” Newton said. “This transforming truth needs lives touching lives.”