Tag: college ministry

Making the Most of Your Christmas Break // College Edition

College students, you made it through finals and are finally rewarded with a much deserved break! Believe it or not, Christmas break is a critical time for you personally in your walk with God. The holiday season is more than a reprieve from school, finals and dorm life. It is more than a time to catch up on sleep, spend extended time with family and get a bunch of gifts.


God has done a lot in you, through you and around you this past semester, and He desires for the seeds of faith, hope, life, freedom, breakthrough and revelation to continue to bear fruit and send you into the year of 2018 with strength and power.

However, there is one who stands in direct opposition to God’s desire and design, and that enemy is the accuser himself, the Devil. Satan seeks to shift your gear from a drive and direction toward God into neutral so you reverse to old patterns, behaviors and temptations. This break, you have the choice to take ground in Jesus or to lose ground to the enemy. “Greater is He who is in you than any power that is in this world” (1 John 4:4). I am confident that this Christmas break, you will be those that do not shrink back but those that press in and take ground.


  • Lean into Jesus and community // Jesus said it best when He reminded His disciples in John 15:5, “for apart from me you can do nothing.” You and I both need consistent and powerful personal connections with Jesus to stay strong in faith, full of hope and capable to fight temptations and serve others. We cannot take ground if we are not grounded in truth every morning. Make it a priority to start each day with set aside time to dive into the Word, set your gaze on Jesus in worship and dialogue with God through prayer. Not only is it essential for us to lean into Jesus, but we also need to lean into community while we are home for the holidays. When you feel weak, isolated, discouraged or tempted, reach out to your community by text or phone calls to strengthen you through prayer and encouragement. As you have learned this semester, light exposes darkness. We will lose ground if we keep sin in the dark from people. This Christmas, be sure to lean in and take ground.
  • Be intentional to serve // “Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord (Romans 12:11)”. Taking initiative to serve your parents, siblings, neighbors, and others around you will accelerate your hunger for God and allow the revelations you have gained to take root in your heart. Don’t expect revival and restoration in your family if you are not willing to roll up your sleeves and serve your mom and dad, brother and sister. Make a list of two to three ways you could show kindness to your family by serving. Beat your mom to the dishes, do not allow your dad to have to take out the trash, volunteer to be the taxi driver to your younger siblings. Your family will listen to your words as you display your heart with your actions. This Christmas, roll up your sleeves and take some ground.
  • Tackle temptations // “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).” I am sure the sins of your past and schemes of the devil are already crouching at your door (Genesis 4:7-8). Since the beginning, the devil has sought to tempt, distract and disillusion God-lovers from the truth. Decide today that you will not give way to his schemes. Our College Pastor Carl Gulley called these temptations, CORNERS, in his sermon on the, “young man lacking sense” from Proverbs. I encourage you to daily put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6), identify your corners (apathy, ex-boyfriend, binge-TV, pornography, masturbation, slanderous speech, jealousy, etc…) and distance yourself from them. This Christmas, choose to take ground and not return to past corners.

You can do it! This is going to be a transformative Christmas break for you as you seek to lean into Jesus and others, be intentional to serve and tackle temptations. Three to four weeks at home can be daunting for some of you. However, if you try and WIN your first three days by taking these steps, I have faith you will return to school refreshed, refueled and strengthened for all that 2018 has for you! Stay LIT this Christmas:  lean into Jesus, be intentional to serve and tackle temptation. We believe in you!

By Maddie Phenix – Associate College Pastor

Welcome Back Students – A Letter from College Pastor Carl Gulley

Welcome back, college students! To be honest, now that you’re settled in, the world feels right again. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, we hope Waco feels more like home than ever before!

I’m a true Wacoan, born and raised in the 254, so this city holds a special place in my heart. This will be my 10th year serving as Antioch’s college pastor. Before that I served as the youth pastor for 10 years – my love for young people runs deep. Believe it or not, you will most likely never again have the time, availability or opportunities that your college years provide you. That’s why my wife, Blair, and I believe college students are the premier group to be touched by God and stirred to live out the dreams of God, and that combination can actually change the world!

We believe your time in Waco can be more than a pit-stop on your life’s journey, but can be the training ground for Kingdom impact for the rest of your life.

With that said, I want to personally invite you to get connected with us at every level – join us for our Sunday morning services, our Wednesday night College Services and our student-led small groups called Lifegroups. We want to replicate the early church we read about in the book of Acts, attending the temple together, meeting from house to house, breaking bread and studying the teachings of Jesus. We believe a church that is centered on God’s Word, empowered by His Spirit and devoted to His ways is unstoppable.

We also believe YOU were created to be a part of this church that changes the world!

So, my encouragement to you is to jump into a Lifegroup as soon as possible. If you’re a new student, we have 35 Lifegroups that meet almost any night of the week – try out a few that work with your schedule and find the one that feels like home. Then, get involved in a discipleship group, where you’ll walk with others more intimately as you learn to follow Jesus, pray for one another, encourage one another and hold one another accountable. If you’re a returning student, don’t hesitate to jump right back in! Take ownership, invite your friends, start discipling other students and help shape the culture.

We’re all made for life with Jesus and life in community. And if you choose to do that with us here at Antioch, then my wife Blair and I, along with our four kids, are thrilled to walk with you!

Sic ‘Em,

– Carl Gulley, College Pastor


Deeply Knowing Jesus – A College Lifegroup Testimony

When we step into community, we see our lives transformed. This happens year after year in our College Ministry, and it never gets old!

Check out how one of our college leaders has seen his life changed through community –

“I’m originally from Houston and went to school for a semester at the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor before moving to Waco. I’ve been in Waco for about four years, and I am a Lifegroup and Section Leader in the College Ministry. I am also on the worship team.

Before moving to Waco, I worked with the worship department at a church in Salado, Texas. I was invited to a Lifegroup a few times, and eventually came to check it out. It was a 45-minute drive, so I was hesitant at first. I was familiar with Christians and religion, but when I walked into Lifegroup and started talking with people I realized they had something I didn’t. They had a deep relationship with Jesus, and I was floored because these people actually knew Jesus. I was working at a church, but it felt like I was just there for a paycheck. These people had relationship with Jesus, and I figured the best way to learn how to have that was to move to Waco and really do life with them. So, I transferred the next semester and went to community college in Waco. It didn’t make any sense, but I felt a tug and an invitation to move here and learn how to follow Jesus.

The deep invitation into community has completely impacted my life. I can step into relationship with people in my community, and I know it’s okay not to be okay. The pressure of religion is thrown away because we simply want to know Jesus more. Lifegroup started to take down the walls of religion for me, and it made the Gospel simple. Being in community also revealed how messy I was. I remember being in discipleship, and unpacking the messy stuff I had been carrying around. I didn’t realize it was there until I started chasing after Jesus. But I wanted Him more than the mess I was carrying and more than things in the past. It was very painful but refining at the same time.

Focusing on relationship with Jesus and with one another has been a game changer. It’s the reason I keep coming to Lifegroup because I know I’ll leave looking more like Jesus.

I love the way the Lord uses community to invite others in to what He’s doing.

Recently our Lifegroup leadership team felt led to read the parable of the lost sheep one night. So, we split into groups and discussed the passage together. There was a girl that came to Lifegroup for the first time, and as we were talking she stopped and said, “I’m the lost sheep tonight.” At that moment she gave her life to Jesus and jumped into discipleship the next day. Stories like that never get old, and it reminds me of why Lifegroup is so worth it.

Lifegroups aren’t just little religious huddles.

It really is an invitation to know Jesus more, maybe even to meet Him for the first time.

For anyone considering Lifegroup, I would say to not overthink it and to just show up. When I first started going to Lifegroup, the way people looked and the way they made me feel didn’t keep me coming back. It was the deep relationship they had with Jesus that kept me coming back.

My hope for anyone looking for a Lifegoup is that they would find a community that feels like family, and that they would leave each week feeling like they know Jesus more.”

– Corey O’Connell

If you are a college student, we are so excited to meet you! Come meet us at the tent on the lawn after each of our services on Sunday morning. We also have our first College Service on Wednesday, August 23rd, at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium. We can’t wait to see you there. If you have questions about the College Ministry, email Meredith Gordon.

Making Summer A Win

Summer can mean a lot of different things for a college student: maybe you’re at home with family and working a part-time job, maybe you’re at camp scrubbing dishes and keeping 10-year-olds suspended on a ropes course, maybe you snagged an internship in a new city and are getting great experience for your future career or maybe you’re in Waco taking summer courses and hitting the BSR cable park.


We’re about a month into summer, and maybe you’ve already felt both. So, I wanted to share some thoughts on how to continue living your summer to the fullest potential, gaining ground in God, thriving in your relationships and making memories that will fuel you into the next school year.

At the end of the spring semester, our college ministry spent four weeks discussing the Holy Spirit – His person, His gifts and His fruit so that we could pursue the Holy Spirit all summer long. I’d encourage you to go back and listen to those messages on our College App or our Vimeo page. Then, revisit the summer plan you made in discipleship – what fruits of the Holy Spirit did you say you wanted to produce this summer, and how were you going to position yourself in order to see those fruits produced? Have you checked in with your discipleship group to let them know how you’re doing, and ask them to continue praying for you and holding you accountable?


So, it’s important to keep your friends in the loop of what’s going on with you spiritually. They can encourage you, fight with you and celebrate with you if you let them in – but if you don’t, you’re on your own. Reach out today.


Somehow, after a long, hard school year, we feel justified, and sometimes even entitled to the me-myself-and-I mentality. I need to rest. I need to be by myself. I don’t want to visit so-and-so. That’s a waste of my time. But let me say, now is not the time to be selfish!


So, my challenge to you is to invest in other people and contribute to a local church. Take a younger sibling to an amusement park, teach a neighborhood kid to ride a bicycle, make a meal for a family in your church, offer to run an errand for your parents or sign up to volunteer for the new ministry your church is starting. Whatever it is, you’ll find that rejecting your own selfish desires and investing in others will launch you into the abundant life you’re looking for this summer.


Take road trips to see friends, meet people at the park to play Frisbee golf, host a movie marathon, learn a new sport or skill or hit the local pool with your family. Whatever you enjoy doing, do a lot of it! Stock up on good fun and make some serious memories so when you come back in August, you’re full of life and energy, telling stories and building excitement for what’s to come.

We can’t wait to see you all back in Waco soon – until then, make it the best summer of your life!

By Meredith Gordon – College Ministry Staff

Awaken 2017: Day 2

We had an amazing second day at AWAKEN! We had our first morning session, followed by service projects in various locations across the city. We ended our day with multiple outreaches, including a carnival, block parties and park outreaches.


We had our first morning session yesterday, and it was powerful!

Our senior pastor Jimmy Seibert shared with us on the father heart of God.

We love getting to roll up our sleeves and serve the people of Edinburg.

We picked up trash in a local neighborhood, served at various churches and did yard work for most of the afternoon.

Each year the Echo Hotel helps us host carnivals at the hotel as a way to bring people in.

We love getting to serve and play with the kids at the carnival and at each of our outreaches.

There is power in prayer, and we believe people’s lives are getting transformed. We take opportunities to share the Gospel and pray with people whenever we can.

Continue to join us in prayer this week! Pray for:

  • Good weather for the rest of the week
  • Our students to encounter Jesus and have powerful morning sessions
  • The people of Edinburg to have open hearts and respond to Jesus

Special shout out to our amazing photographers: Will Aker, Fissy Jejelowo, Lexy Bishop and Kassy Martinez.

College: A Clean Slate

Senior-itis is a real phenomenon. It’s that feeling of walking into your first day of 12th grade still exhausted from your last day of 11th grade. All the homework, pep rallies, relational drama, prom, athletic practices, banquets, late nights, early mornings… At one level, you love it. At another level, you just want out. I went to a private school from Pre-K to 12th grade and absolutely loved it. Still every school has its pros and cons. Upside: being small, we were a close-knit family and the teachers knew each child personally and intimately. The downside? If you got stuck with a label, reputation or stereotype, it was hard to shake. You couldn’t just grab a new group of friends and rebrand yourself. Translation: graduation couldn’t come fast enough.

I later realized that deep beneath the longing for graduation day was a desire for something much more:


A place where you get to make your own choices and no one knows what you did back in 10th grade. A season where you get to choose who you want to be and who you want to live life with.

Enter college! That magical four year world filled with intramurals, meal plans, leadership organizations and classes you actually want to take. The world says you’re not quite an adult yet so you should soak up the typical college experience and live life to the fullest. But having been a college pastor for eight years, here’s what I know:

The decisions you make during college will set the course for the rest of your life.

So in order to not repeat your high school-itis, here’s a quick list of things all college students (from freshman to senior) need to hear as day one of school approaches.

1. Choose Wisely

It’s true: YOUR FRIENDS ARE A PREVIEW OF THE FUTURE YOU. I can tell who you are going to be someday by looking at the friends you are hanging out with right now. If you want to reach a godly destination, pick some friends who are going there with or without you.

2. Ditch the Sin Experiment

I meet so many students who say they started college with a desire to “just have a little fun for a little while.” They’ll visit parties or hook up with some guy/girl…because it’s “just for a little while.” I recently met a few guys starting their senior year who told me: “We just realized that the world will call us adults in nine months time. How do we make up for the last three years of living for ourselves?” Don’t be those guys. But if you have been, your answer lies in #3.

3. Make it Your Personal Mission to Destroy FOMO

In an attempt to not miss out on anything, you will be tempted to commit to nothing. The basic college route calls you to hop around to different churches and bounce in and out of anything asking you for a commitment. When Jesus came to Peter, He said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:20 says, “Immediately, they left their nets and followed Him.” My challenge to you is to get into a Lifegroup and pursue discipleship and accountability that will push you to Jesus. ASAP. This is where you will encounter God personally and where you will find a fresh start – a clean slate – waiting for you.

This is your shot and you only get four years (ok, some of you get five). In the meantime, remember what 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Or as Hillsong’s newest song Empires says:

Beneath our skin
A new creation
The night is done
Our chains are broken
The time as come
The wait is over
The King is here

That promise is for you. Don’t waste it.

Carl Gulleyl, College Pastor

What is Carl Reading?

Every few months I’ll sit down and evaluate what I’ve been reading and what I want to read next. Read below to check out some of my latest recommendations.

  • American Sniper by Chris Kyle. I just finished this book. I’m obsessed with Navy Seal books because they give me fresh perspective about the way the elite of the elite prepare and fight. I tend to complain less after I read a special forces book, too. It’s hard to whine about how I preached a bad sermon when these guys fell down mountains, broke every bone in their body and still fulfilled their mission because of their love for their brothers and their country.

  • Leadership Pain by Samuel Chand. This is a must read for anyone in ministry – paid or volunteer. I wish I had read this when I first stepped into ministry. It gives me language for what I felt in the early days. Here’s an excerpt: “Don’t run from your pain. Don’t deny it exists. It’s the most effective leadership development tool the world has ever known. You’ll only grow to the threshold of your pain, so raise it!”

  • Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. This book gives you a look into how Pixar creates creative cultures. I need stuff like this if I’m going to continue to stay sharp as the World Mandate executive producer and as I lead the college worship services.

  • Be Our Guest by the Disney Institute. Our college staff is about to read this book. If you have ever been to Disney World, you know they take the phrase “customer service” to a whole other level. We want to study how Disney creates contagious environments that makes people feel like they have been waiting just for them.

  • The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moises Naim. This is a fascinating read addressing some big issues in this generation. More and more, organizations are realizing that this generation is not coming to work for them for the next 20 years. Studies show they all have contingency plans so they can leave your company if and when you burn them. That being the case, businesses are challenging managers and leaders to treat their employees like volunteers. We in the church world understand that the heart of all we do rests on the back and in the hearts of our volunteers. There are no power plays in the church.

By Carl Gulley, College Pastor


Awaken 2015: Day 5

The Gospel is the hope of the world and many people encountered hope forevermore in Edinburg. Yesterday, today, and forever God is who He says He is. He is faithful. He is good.

Beautiful sunrise our last morning of Awaken!

Thankful for such glorious weather on the walk to the morning session.

We took some time after lunch to relax and enjoy the weather before going out for afternoon outreaches.

The last day of our outreaches was met with beautiful weather and lots of people in the parks.

Sharing the Gospel is easiest when we are able to relate to people with things they’re passionate about.

Playing games at the park.

Our second carnival was a success! Many families came and had a blast!

We shared the Gospel message at the carnival. Here, Pastor Elliot, a pastor from the local church we partnered with, shared their church’s vision so people who came could get connected to a church!

Closing out our last full day in Edinburg and cleaning up after the carnival. It was a good day!


We head back to Waco today! Please join us in praying for safe travel and for the seeds of the Gospel that were planted during our time in Edinburg to take root.

Awaken 2015: Day 1

Awaken, our college ministry’s spring break mission trip, has officially begun! More than 450 students have successfully made the 370 mile trip to South Texas, and are excited to share the love of Jesus and serve the people of Edinburg.

Students getting pumped up as they depart for their outreaches this afternoon. This group is hungry to see God move in the people of Edinburg.

Today we felt like God said today was a day for kids… and we got a party!

Rainy weather can’t stop the dance team from having fun!

“But Jesus called them to Him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:16

The Four Soils

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year. It doesn’t get much better than summer nights with friends and snow cones; even if you’re not into snow cones, which I totally don’t understand. What is there not to love?! It’s ice & sugar. And here in the 100° days of Texas, ice and sugar is equivalent to the nectar of heaven.

But seriously, summer is a blast. Swimming. Vacation. Family. And for college students, more free time and opportunities than you probably get in the other nine months of the year combined. That is why summer isn’t just fun – it can be the most catalytic time of year or the most crushing. The funny thing about summer is that it’s a pivotal break – a time where we can rest and refuel. And yet the summer “break” can be deceptive. All those options you were excited about can actually be your undoing. The truth is, in order to maximize your summer break, you need a plan.

Now that might be one of the craziest things you have ever read. “In order to rest, I have to have a plan? I thought rest WAS the plan… Sleep till noon, eat bonbons all day and just chill.”

Living things don’t just chill; they are either progressing or regressing.

My heart for us this summer is that we would heed the words of Jesus in Mark 4 where He tells a story about soil. Now I’ve gotta be honest; I can’t say I know a ton about soil. The only jungle I’m about is the concrete one. I do the great indoors. But all that changed recently when our college staff spent some time with a farmer. And here’s what we learned:

Good soil doesn’t just happen. Good soil has to be cultivated.

Jesus gives us a clear picture in Mark 4 of a heart moving forward. A heart I believe we must have in order for these final weeks of summer to rock us and not crush us. It’s now July and it’s time for a re-up. Watch this video we made about “the parable of all parables,” and after it’s over, ask yourself what will make your summer a win. Let’s be good soil. I believe in you.

By Jady Griffin, Associate College Pastor