Christian Challenge is a campus ministry that reaches students and the community of Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays, Kan. Near the beginning of my time of learning and running at FHSU I was dragged along to the weekly big group gathering that we call “Challenge” on a Tuesday night by a couple girls on my cross country team. The community reached out to me, and within a few months I applied to be on their leadership team. This was just one step in a long walk that God was taking me on at that point, but Challenge was an anchor in many storms throughout the reshaping, reforming, and refining processes in the years to follow. I served on the student leadership team known as the “Big Leadership Team” (BLT), as well as on the Core Team – twelve students that work closely with staff to plan and oversee everything – and after two and a half years of that, I went on staff with the ministry. I’m graduated now with my degree in Communications: Public Relations and a minor in Psychology and I’m putting those to use in a way I never had imagined as I do campus ministry and pursue young adults for the cause of Christ.
STRUCTURE AND PURPOSE
We are a what would be referred to as a “para-church organization,” and we cooperate with many local churches and believers. We seek students from all backgrounds and upbringings and strive to introduce them to the love and the work of Jesus, tell them what this means for our lives (salvation by grace through faith and a continual purpose now to tell others), and train them to study God’s word and grow in spiritual maturity. Though Christian Challenge is a nation wide name given to many different campus ministries and we work together with many of them, each campus functions as it’s own entity and networks, fundraises, and somewhat affiliates as it sees fit.
We were founded in 1994 by two individuals, one of whom, Carin Cochran, is still our director to this day. They followed a calling proposed to them for this campus in Kansas which, at the time, had no Godly spiritual influences (structurally) at work. God has been at work since ’94, and going from a group of few students who just played cards in the union and studied their Bibles the first couple years, in 2011 we switched our Tuesday night Challenge to meeting in two services because we outgrew our space and couldn’t seat 250 college students anywhere except on the floor. Our BLT team is now yearly averaging about fifty-six students, our Core team has twelve students, and we continually have a staff that oversees the five different teams of our ministry and the overall functions of our organization. These teams are explained below.
Though we are an official non-profit organization and our staff must raise support or work jobs on the side (which is typically not productive for ministry), one special position we have is that we are also an officially recognized student organization on our campus. This benefits us in that we able to utilize campus facilities, hold events, and access students right where they live and move in their everyday lives. Also, we can apply for university allocations and we do receive a portion of our fundings through this. We can then put those fundings towards activities for our students such as paying for our speakers we bring in every Tuesday, as well as conferences, training, and recruitment events that we think benefit our students such as Passion conferences and our yearly free cookout we do on campus for two examples. Other then this, we do fundraise and receive donations from individuals such as alumni and parents and also from churches throughout the surrounding states.
We partner with other ministries in putting on conferences, sending students places within the United States over the summer to train and/or reach out for different reasons, and for sending students overseas in the summer to do missions work with partners in other countries. All of these functions must be funded by donations and people who are willing to invest in the work we do for the kingdom of God.
A few years into their work on FHSU campus and many splits in the group by students who felt compelled to start up other organizations with different focuses that still exist on campus to this day, it became apparent that a clearly defined purpose statement would be necessary as the organization continued to grow. Everything we do is now checked by this statement. So, it remains as stated:
As mentioned we have five teams that make up the whole of FHSU Christian Challenge. Though these have somewhat changed and been refined as we’ve seen fit over the years, we believe this structure to be beneficial both for oversight and creating opportunities, but also for allowing our students the opportunity to really invest in increase our efforts in significant ways. Applications are turned in every fall and staff picks the teams for the following years that begin in January after an escape for a few days of training. Besides their specific roles, we encourage each team to do acts of service and plan just-for-fun events for the students as well.
The Challenge team is a small team that organizes and plans the majority of details concerning our large group gathering (Challenge) on Tuesdays, as well as handles on-campus promotions. Challenge is our “open door” to becoming involved in what we do, and so we maintain a high standard of quality for this meeting time. The team seeks to fulfill three main goals: Real worship happens. Truth is spoken. People feel loved and connected.
VISION GROUPS TEAM
We consider Vision Groups our front line of ministry’s spiritual battle on campus. The student leaders train and fellowship with each other during the entire spring semester, and in the fall semester they hit the campus full force to greet and welcome students and form relationships with primarily freshmen and transfer students. We then offer small groups (thus the name of the team) that our lead by these fellow student leaders and walk with the newcomers through a study of the basics for Christians that we call “What We Believe and Why.”
This team is comprised of our musicians and tech-folk that lead us in singing, scripture reading, and occasionally other creative arts such as painting, special music, skits, etc. They work closely with the Challenge Team as they seek to usher the attenders on Tuesday nights into a place prepared to receive the word in worship as it is proclaimed and leave to worship throughout the week in their daily lives. We are blessed to have amazing students that live out worship in the every day lives and bring such talent and skill to the organization that it makes the choices for filling the roles on this team very difficult each year. We’ve got quality worship happening.
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S MINISTRY
These teams exist with basically the same functions, just, for opposite genders. We believe man and woman are created for each other and compliment each other, but do have different needs, and thus we do work together on many events and ideas, but we separate when it comes to ministering to and meeting the needs of the specific genders. These teams are, in a way, the follow up to Vision Groups and we constantly offer small groups and bible studies, training opportunities, service opportunities, fun events, times for relaxation, and more. We expand as our large group expands and we strive to offer creative and necessary means to meet the needs of our community as God provides and reveals those to us. As we always say, we seek to live “life on life” with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and assist each other in becoming mature and devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
OTHER NOT QUITE CLASSIFIED AS “TEAMS” THINGS
We then also, as mentioned, offer summer teams that travel overseas and locally to do missions work, and we have worked to offer a summer “program” for people who stick around the community as well. The summer program has been a work I’ve been developing for quite some time now and is known as DENY. DENY is a disciple training group for not just learning more about Jesus and the Bible, but also putting these things into action in our present culture and times. You can find more information on DENY by clicking here or visiting our Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/DENY923.
KEEP UP AND SUPPORT
Obviously a lot is going on, but we want everyone to have means to stay in touch and know how your investments in time, energy, finances and prayer are making a difference on this campus and throughout the world. So though our staff is small, we do our best to send out newsletters, maintain a Facebook Page, and, for some of us, maintain our own personal Pages as well. I also, because I’m a tech nerd and PR major, have this website and blog. So here are a few ways to keep up with us:
- Christian Challenge Facebook Page
- Riley Adam Voth Facebook Page
- Follow Personal Updates On This Blog: Click Here
- Follow Updates of Christian Challenge On This Blog: Click Here Also, type “Christian Challenge in the search box anytime to filter all postings.
- Riley Adam Voth Newsletter: Click Here To Sign Up Make sure you indicate whether you want email only or snail mail letters as well!
- Donate To Riley Adam Voth’s Work: Look in the bottom right hand corner of this site for electronic, or mail tax-deductible donations made out to “Christian Challenge” to Christian Challenge, P.O. Box 1362, Hays, KS 67601. We can also set you up for automatic deductions – which is win-win for us all. Let me know!