In InterVarsity lingo, NSO stands for “New Student Outreach,” the first few weeks of the school year in which InterVarsity staff and student leaders meet incoming freshmen and other new friends and invite them to become part of our communities on campuses all over the country. These posts are a few snapshots of the beginning of the school year on a few of the campuses where I either staff or oversee other IV staff. I am calling this Day #0 as it happened Sunday, before the first day of school.
This is an exciting new year for me as an InterVarsity staff. For the past seven years, I have staffed the InterVarsity chapter at Saint Louis University. In fact, this is the first August in 10 years that I have not been on SLU’s campus for the first day of school, including my time as a student! This year, I am embarking on the new (and sometimes scary) adventure of planting a new ministry at a local community college (Flo Valley), restarting a ministry at a local commuter school (University of Missouri-St. Louis or UMSL), and supervising four InterVarsity staff at four other area schools. It’s a big job with a lot of spinning plates but so far, I’m really enjoying it.
I began my NSO season this past Sunday at UMSL with a fun little event called “Find Your Faith” in which students are encouraged to come to the campus chapel to meet different faith organizations that exist on campus. I started off the morning at a Family Dollar, wandering the aisles in search of a fun and easy snack to giveaway at my table (college kids + free food = open doors for conversation). I ended my search with about 10 boxes of fruit snacks and a strange look from the cashier, and made my way to campus.
I arrived and found a parking spot where, mercifully, a few other ministers had also arrived and were walking in (I had no idea where the building was). We set up our tables and they were even gracious enough to let me have the best spot as the new guy. In about 30 minutes, I met about 25 students and a little over half of them signed a contact card indicating that they were interested in learning more about InterVarsity. I invited all of them to join me for pizza in the student center the next day (more to come on that). I also got to connect a bit with some of the other campus ministers who have been there longer than me and I look forward to learning from and partnering with them.
All in all, I felt pretty grateful for my first morning at UMSL and I’m excited to see what doors Jesus will open on this campus!