One of the most used illustrations in StuMo history—no I’m not talking the b-word that sums up the main theme of the bible—I’m talking the tragic story of Matt Emmons. You know, the guy who was an olympic rifle shooter and was lining up for his last shot for an easy win, takes a deep breath, and nails the bullseye. Alas, it was the wrong target—insert dramatic GASP and wind being sucked out of the room. This is an oft-used illustration because it’s so good when talking about making sure we’re hitting the right target when it comes to our strategy with StuMo. What good is it to hit a bullseye on the wrong target?
Insert the SMC objectives. Fun fact: we’ve always had SMC objectives but this year they got a facelift in order to be more memorable. We made the obvious choice and made them into an acronym, we here at StuMo like those. SMC’s objectives are SMC. That’s right. Even though most freshman attending SMC this year won’t know what SMC stands for, we’ll know 2 different meanings for it. You guys are smart, you can handle it. These objectives are our target. They will guide our dreaming, guide our planning, guide our praying for this conference. We don’t want to just hit a bullseye. We want to hit the right bullseye. Because what good is it to hit a bullseye on the wrong target?
Leading up to January we are going to be breaking them down and discussing them so that we can all aim at the right target together.
Today we’re going to discuss the first SMC objective: Spiritual firsts.
Firsts are significant. The first person in a family to graduate college. The first woman to receive a Nobel prize. The first man on the moon.
Firsts are memorable. The first time you drove on your own. The first date. The first job you ever had.
No firsts are more significant or memorable than spiritual firsts. Spiritual firsts are significant. They are checkpoints in a spiritual journey that are new. Real. Spiritual firsts are aha moments where something clicks and you’re never the same. Spiritual firsts are memorable. Who first initiated with you spiritually? When was the first time you trusted in Jesus? When did you first start reading the Bible? Many of us have specific, palatable experiences and stories we can share connected with these spiritual firsts.
But why spiritual firsts? Why out of all the things we could make SMC focused on would we choose spiritual firsts as one of the 3 objectives to focus our attention on?\
I believe the answer is rooted in our mission. Our mission is building laborers for Christ from the college campuses of the world. Being a laborer is not a one time choice. It’s not a box that you check on some demographic form. Our building and their becoming a laborer starts with a series of spiritual firsts. And seconds. And thirds. And grows into a lifetime. Because building laborers is the finish line, we want to do everything we can to get students to start the race. SMC is an amazing place to experience these spiritual firsts.
Because building laborers is the finish line, we want to do everything we can to get students to start the race.
For many students, we want SMC to be the first time that they understand the gospel and trust Jesus. For even the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10) We estimate that somewhere around 50-60% of our audience any given year at SMC is lost. Some know it and are open to exploring. Some would call themselves a Christian but if they died and stood in front of Jesus today he would say, I never knew you (Matthew 7:23). Regardless of their background of holdups, we want to unashamedly preach the gospel and give these students multiple opportunities to repent then, and turn to God, so that their sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19).
We also hope that many students take first steps to practically following Jesus with their lives. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up, strengthened in the faith as your were taught and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7). These firsts can be all across the spectrum. The first time they realize the importance of biblical fellowship. The first time they start reading their bible or praying. The first time they are convicted of a certain sin. The first time they gain a vision for multiplying their life. The first time they desire to honor God with their relationships. The first time they gain a heart for the nations. These are all things we are trying to build into students on campus but there is just something special about the momentum, excitement and camaraderie that students experience at SMC that has a solidifying effect of these spiritual firsts.
We want SMC to be a conference full of firsts that lead to seconds and thirds and a lifetime of trusting and faithfully following Jesus. Picture the students you really want to be at SMC experiencing those spiritual firsts this January. Let’s hit that bullseye together.
What spiritual firsts have you experienced at SMC?
What spiritual firsts have you seen other people experience at SMC?
Why is spiritual firsts an important objective for our conference?
What would happen if we lost sight of this objective?
What are some ways we can work together to hit this objective well?