About Impact

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Impact Stories: Learning to be a Follower

This post is part of a series of stories from our Impact St. Mary's students. These posts are all written by student. I hope you'll enjoy a closer look at what God is doing on our local college campuses.

Bridget is a sophomore at St. Mary’s College and studying sports management.  She will be studying abroad next semester in Ireland.

I just joined Impact this year and it has been amazing all semester. I joined because a friend invited me and since I’m very involved with my church back home, I thought I would go to see what they do. I quickly became part of the Impact group of women! All the members are inviting and fun and so involved in their faith that they are just wonderful people.

Impact has taught me to really look at my life and change how I praise and worship God. This group has taught me that giving praise and loving God are the most important and that God should be in every part of my life rather than just a separate part.

I have loved my semester of Impact and it will be hard to go without it next semester in Ireland.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Impact Stories: My Impact Family

This post is part of a series of stories from our Impact St. Mary's students. These posts are all written by student. I hope you'll enjoy a closer look at what God is doing on our local college campuses.

Chloe is a sophomore studying psychology and serves on the Impact St. Mary’s student leadership team.

There are so many things about Impact that have changed my life. Impact is my safe place. When I went through a difficult time last year, it was my Impact family that stayed by me through it all. I love everyone in our small group of girls. The support of my Christian sisters is beyond anything I have ever had before.  My relationship with Christ has grown so much. On my own, I would have never been able to be where I am today. The leaders are the most knowledgeable and caring people. Impact is my family. I am so very blessed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Impact Stories: Go to a Bible Study?!

This post is part of a series of stories from our Impact St. Mary's students. These posts are all written by student. I hope you'll enjoy a closer look at what God is doing on our local college campuses.

Elizabeth is a junior at St. Mary’s College and is studying accounting.

I never intended to join a Bible study…ever. My roommate is a member of Impact and welcomed me to join her on Wednesdays at Saint Mary’s. After the first few sessions, I finally made it to a meeting and couldn’t be happier. Our leader, Sarah Koutz, is phenomenal and my mind is blown every time. I couldn’t be happier with the group of girls and open conversation. I’m glad God led me to Impact in order to continue on my path of faith.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Impact Stories: Finding a Relationship with God

Over the next week or so I'll be sharing stories from our Impact St. Mary's students. These posts are all written by student. I hope you'll enjoy a closer look at what God is doing on our local college campuses.

Ashley is a junior studying biology and serves on the Impact St. Mary’s student leadership team.

I was brought to Impact by a good friend last year and stayed when I found my relationship with God. I don’t’ know where I would be without this relationship, but I wake up everyday and thank Him for Impact and the encouragement I have found.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Maximizer's Volunteer Opportunity

Hey there Maximizer friends!

As I shared last week, there is an opportunity for all of you to partner with Impact Campus Ministries this week at our Impact Worship Night. There are two different time slots. Feel free to come to one or both.

Thursday, October 25th in Bethel College's Octorium (Middleton Hall of Science)
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM: Unload equipment, set-up and prepare dinner 
9:30 PM - 11:00 PM: Tear down, load equipment, and clean up

The event runs from 8:00-9:30 PM and we would love to have you and your families join us. The band Till Our Renewal will be leading us in a time of prayer and worship as we seek God and lift up our campuses in prayer.

If you have any questions or want more information, e-mail me at sarah.koutz@impacttheu.com.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Early morning coffee before Maximizers
Most of you know that I am anything but a morning person. However, every Friday morning I gather at 6:30 AM with a group of local business and community leaders called Maximizers who desire to maximize their influence and resources in order to make a difference in our area.

At the end of September, I was invited to share with this group my work with Impact Campus Ministries. I managed to bribe a few college students with some Starbucks and asked them to come share about how Impact has influenced their life. A local business leader, Mark Meyer, wrote a summary of our time together and shared some of his thoughts from our early morning chat. (You can read his entire post HERE.)
When I hear of 35,000 college students in our local community, I think about the possibilities of what it would look like to unleash hundreds of students into our community making a difference.  As we continue to connect the dots of the various efforts going on in our backyard- the options could be endless to get more of these students “in the game”.  Wow!
What could it look like to have a few business leaders connect with this group and add fuel to their efforts- to bring the talents, additional resources, and strategies to expand the message of Christ in the college sector.  Hmmmmm...
I could hardly contain my excitement as I watched a room full of people begin to share my dream for our college campuses. The students and I were overwhelmed by the encouragement and prayers of this group. I am so grateful for the chance to share with them.

If you are free on Friday mornings at 6:30 AM come join us at the Mutual Bank Building at 4100 Edison Lakes Parkway in Mishawaka.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

GSM Middle School Challenge: Meditation and Solitude

from Radio Free Babylon
I saw this comic strip today and it reminded me of our conversation on Sunday about the spiritual disciplines or practices of meditation and solitude. I thought I would share it with you and encourage you to keep practicing all of the spiritual disciplines we've talked about this semester.

If you aren't sure of what a next step might be, I thought I would share with you a couple passages you might spend some time wrestling with this week.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." John 14:6
 He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30
Grab your Bible and journal. Turn off the tv, video games, and music and find some space to be with God. Find some GSM friends to share your experience with before next week. Dig in an be ready to hear what God wants to share with you.

Psalm 1:1-2
Blessed is the one 
who does not walk in the step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers, 
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord
and who meditates (hagah) on his law day and night.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Summer Fun

My summer technically starts in May when the college students return home, but it feels like it is just getting started due to all the traveling I've done for work. No complaints though! I love traveling, going to new places and meeting new people. Mixed in with all of the work trips have been a few trips just for fun as well. I thought I would share some of my adventures with you through picture.
Memorial Day Weekend - Everything needed for a great weekend with my sister Anna.

Campus Ministers Retreat - One of our student leaders, Allison, and I crashed the CMR one afternoon to spend some time with Impact's Development Team and UI/WSU Lead Campus Minister, Eric.
 Don't you think Impact's president, Bill, and vice-president, Jeff, look a lot like Lewis and Clark?

Meet my new very smart nephew, Jude! He was born the same day I went to Michigan for VBS.

While I was in Michigan for VBS, I got to introduce Gianna to several of my friends, supporters, and role models. I got lost in this conversation as Judy shared her stories of competitive gymnastics with Gianna who competes for Notre Dame's club team. It was a beautiful thing to watch.

 My friend, Marianne, and her children are on home assignment this summer from their work in the Philippines. I took a few days off to go visit friends in Kentucky. Yes, I did teach her kids how to climb inside trees at Cumberland Falls.

Over the Fourth of July, I traveled back to Anna's house to spend a few days with her.

I can't believe it is already July. Where has the summer gone?

Monday, June 25, 2012

VBS 2012

Gianna helps with decorations for the week.
Once again this summer, I returned to my hometown of Vestaburg, MI to represent Impact's work at a week of Vacation Bible School sponsored by the Vestaburg Church of Christ and Ferris Church of Christ. I brought one of our St. Mary's students, Gianna, with me to meet current and potential supporters. She did an incredible job sharing how Impact has influenced her life and I loved watching God stretch her as He continued to reveal to her His plan for her life. Here are some of her reflections on the week.

"They have this light in them that adults don't have. They don't have worries about jobs, money or life in general. They are precious children who trust God loves them and has a plan for them. The future can be scary, but I guess I need to look at life more like a child."

Read more of Gianna's reflections HERE.

Learning about Jesus feeding the crowds
A memory verse activity
Gianna was brave enough to wear her ND gear in the middle of Michigan.


Friday, June 01, 2012

Impact St. Mary's

Some of our St. Mary's students
 Have you ever wondered what happens in campus ministry during the summer while students are back home and campus is, for the most part, as empty as a deserted island? Well I can tell you that the ministry and conversations don't stop. Our students at St. Mary's decided the best way to encourage and stay connected to each other over the summer was to start a blog to share stories from their summers and things they are learning along the way.

Stop by their blog and send them a quick note of encouragement.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Summer After Freshman Year - Youth Minister Edition

Dear Youth Minister,

I’m well aware your role is to disciple middle school and high school students and build programming in your church that serves them. So I’m sure you are probably thinking, “Why is this campus minister writing me about college freshmen coming home for the summer?” I know it seems a little strange but please just try to keep an open mind.

·      You have influence – One of the first things a campus minister hears about from an incoming freshman is their youth group and their youth minister. I know there are many days you ministered to your students and thought you weren’t making a difference, but you have had an influence. When students think of spiritual mentors “back home”, they think of you. Just because a student has been away at college for a year doesn’t mean that suddenly changes.
·      Follow up – Not every church has ministry specifically focused on college students. Life at home always involved your student ministry and now they may be returning to little or no community life. Imagine communal dorm living to nothing. I’m not asking you to spend your entire summer with the college students who came through your student ministry. Since you have influence in that student’s life, a simple e-mail, a phone call, text message or greeting at church can mean the world to a student who is unsure of the transition of being home.
·      Follow through – I have had way too many students tell me they were blown off, ignored, or stood up by a youth minister. These students love you and still need your mentoring and guidance. If you tell a former student you are going to meet them for coffee or want to hang out with them, DO IT! If you don’t really mean it, don’t say it. Good intentions only hurt students who want a relationship with you!
·      Be a bridge – I know summer can be a very busy season in youth ministry and it can be a struggle to find time to hang out with your current students. The reality is, these returning freshmen do not need to be hanging out with the youth group. They need to build community with a group of peers or people who are closer to their stage of life. Help them find others in your church or community who are in the same place. It is a teaching opportunity for you and a healthy step for them.
·      Encourage them – I’m guessing you may remember what your summer after freshman year was like. It isn’t always easy. Be an encouraging voice.

As a campus minister, we are jealous you get to spend the summer with these students. Sure, everyone likes a break, but campus sure does get boring in the summer. Enjoy the summer with our students. We miss them already.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Summer After Freshman Year - Parent Edition

Dear Parents of a College Freshman,

Congratulations! Your child has survived their first year of college, even if it was just barely. Now they are packing up their dorm rooms, saying goodbye to friends, and selling textbooks for gas money to come home. While you are probably ecstatic to have your baby back home, your baby is probably facing some anxiety about summer break. There is no way in the world I will ever claim to know anything about parenting, however, I do want to share some thoughts you may or may not find helpful as you adjust to your child being back home.

·      Your student is tired – I realize they need a job, sleep until noon, and eat everything in your house AND they’ve done it three days in a row. You’re right, they probably are being lazy, but try to remember they just finished a week of finals. This probably meant at least one or two all night cramming and paper writing sessions, drinking way too much coffee, and eating way too much junk food. Then they had to pack up their entire home they’ve known for the school year and cram it in their little car. Give them a little space to rest and then kindly tell them to get a job.
·      Point out the positive – Some students go home convinced that their summer is going to be miserable because their parents are going to tell them what to do at every waking moment. They’ve automatically tuned their ears in to only hear the negative.  Catch them off guard with some positive reinforcement and encouragement. Thank them when they’ve helped around the house or praise them when you can actually see a part of their bedroom floor. It may take some time but eventually their ears won’t be listening for just the negative.
·      Communicate expectations – Your child has spent the entire school year making their own decisions about how to spend their time and resources. They may not have always been the best choices, but they aren’t use to having to tell someone where they are going all the time and what they are doing. Clearly communicate to them from the beginning of the summer what you expect them to do around the house and if they need your permission to go places.
·      Remember they are watching you – You are more aware than anyone else that your child is still learning and developing independence.  Be a good model of relationships, wise choices, and communications. They notice how you respond in situations and looking to you to understand how to practice their independence well. Be patient when they fall short. It is going to happen.

I know you love your child very much. Enjoy the time you have with them this summer. It always goes faster than you think it should.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Summer After Freshman Year - Student Edition

Dear College Freshman,

Congratulations! You finished your first year of college, which most likely means you are now actually a sophomore. I’m sure you are glad to be done with early morning classes, writing papers, and taking finals, but I’m guessing you are also sad you will be leaving your new friends. It might even be safe to say you are experiencing some anxiety or nerves about returning home to live with you parents.  Now I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, but I’ve been there. So, I thought I would give you some advice that might come in handy this summer.

·      Obey the house rules – Yes, I know you aren’t a child, but it is still their house.  It might be inconvenient and mostly annoying. You will probably feel at times like you are 12 years old again. It is only a few months and sets a great example for your younger siblings. Yes that means you can’t whine about it then!
·      Help around the house – It doesn’t matter if you had chores or not before you went to college. Simply lending a hand around the house can speak volumes to your parents. They may never say anything to you, but I bet they notice.
·      Communicate! – I’m well aware while you were at college you got to decide what you would do and when you would do it. My guess is it won’t take long before you decide to do something and your parents get upset because you didn’t ask them first. There are a few “tricks” that can help in this area. Instead of saying “I’m going to go…” try “I was thinking about…” or “I want to…does that work with your schedule?” If you start your summer this way, by the end of the summer your parents MAY even tell you there isn’t any need to ask as long as they know where you are.
·      Remember this is hard for them too – Your parents have spent the entire school year with you out of the house and worrying about how you are doing at college. Now their baby is back home and they can breathe a sigh of relief that they know what you are doing.  Just as you are learning to navigate your own life, they are learning how to let you grow up. The bottom line is they love and care for you. Give them a break.
·      Honor your father and mother – Come on! It is one of the Ten Commandments. Remember the choices you make this summer will affect your parents and the amount of tension you will have to live with while you are home. Love them. Honor them.

Enjoy your summer break and the time you have with your family. The books will be calling your name before you know it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Summer After Freshman Year Blog Series

College freshman often find themselves with mixed emotions at this time of the school year. They have survived their first year of college and are getting ready to head back home to spend the next few months with their parents. That first summer can be an incredibly challenging time for both students and parents. This week I'm wanted to share a few thoughts for students, parents and youth ministers that might help the challenges the summer months bring.

Feel free to join the conversation this week. Share your "summer after freshman year" stories or things you learned about those college summer months.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When Frogs Sing

The St. Joe river from one of my recent hikes.
At the end of a rough day I decided to go hiking and spend some time listening to God. I’m so glad I did because it was an insightful walk.

As I was walking along a marshy area, the tree frogs and bullfrogs were croaking incredibly loud. It was as if they were croaking as loud as they could because they didn’t know when they would be able to tomorrow. It was a beautiful and powerful song they were singing. I stopped to take it all in and noticed after a few minutes the birds had joined the singing.  

I started imagining what the lyrics to their songs might be. I started thinking about how all of creation proclaims the glory of God. These frogs and birds were doing that with such gusto. I wondered if my life was proclaiming the glory of God with the same intensity and intentionality that the birds were singing.

I looked around to take in the scenery and I noticed how bare the trees were. None of them had started budding. There were no signs of new growth anywhere in the underbrush. Everything I saw in the woods seemed to be lifeless, but man those frogs and birds were singing strong.

I thought about the faithful men who finished running their races this year and the challenges the last few months had brought. There is a song ringing out even in the midst of brokenness, a song of hope. That is the song that I want to sing.

“Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.” Colossians 3:2

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Losing a Legend

Keats Wood
 This morning I’m in Lansing, MI at the Michigan Statewide Teen Convention thinking about my friends and family in my hometown that are gathering to celebrate the life of Keats Wood. Many in Vestaburg call him a legend and I would agree.

Keats served in many roles at the school, but I remember Keats more from church. Keats taught our 4th-6th grade Sunday School Class. I remember him taking the stories we had heard many times before and bringing them to life. He taught us how to read Scripture as more than just stories.  

In more recent years, I learned how great Keats was at encouraging others. Every Sunday I was home while I was teaching school, Keats always asked how things were in my classroom. He would ask me about how many knives I had pulled off kids that semester, how many students had passed the last playing test, or if I had fallen in love with teaching yet? Those conversations always ended with Keats telling me he was confident I was a good teacher and that I could make it to the end of the year.

When I started working as a campus minister, Keats continued to encourage me and always asked about our Notre Dame students. He was a huge Michigan State fan and I can’t think of one trip home where we didn’t discuss college sports and how much college life has changed over the years.

This year, my home church has lost several men who were great examples of faith to me. Keats was one of them. The legacy he leaves behind forces me to question the legacy I’m leaving behind. Am I helping those around me take steps towards Christ? Keats did, and I’m grateful.