Simple. Pure. Impactful. After our staff trip to Asbury College, that’s the most straightforward way I can explain what I experienced. With over 2 hours in the car to anticipate what it would be like, can I be honest and share that it was underwhelming at first? Yes, there was a long line waiting to get in, but everyone was joyfully reverent. People in line around us were on their 2nd or 3rd day and were all from out of state. We made it to the front quickly and ushers helped us get to our balcony seats, showing us the free water/snack table and where to find the restrooms. It was all very orderly.
Once at our seats, we took part in congregational worship songs (many we play on CFR) and I was struck that there were no words on a screen yet everyone knew the lyrics. 5-7 songs were strung together by a simple praise band. With no discernable template, an anonymous Asbury staff member would step to the microphone and request no live-streaming (to protect the privacy of the Lord’s work on individual hearts), and remind everyone that the focus was the kindness of God which leads to repentance. Then, maybe another batch of songs and a time of testimony from anyone 25 years or younger. You could sense that leadership wanted to protect the fact that God began this work in the hearts of college students and they were the primary focus. Everyone was welcome, but this was the generation of the moment. Over and over we would flow from prayer to praise to reflection to singing. 4 hours later, we left to return to the studio.
As we rode home we were silent at first, reflecting privately on what we saw and sensed. Once we opened up as a group, we landed on a general consensus that we often overcomplicate what it is we are offering the Lord, when He only wants our undivided attention. And we marveled that students, simply willing to linger at the alter to pour out their hearts, confess their inadequacies to one another, experience the love of Christ, and tell the story of what God was doing in their life, could light a fire that has drawn people from all over the country.
In a beautiful irony, what seemed underwhelming at first has grown to a transforming force in how I want to walk out my faith.
Stephanie Matthews, Partnership Director