Generations of Disciples
“I am a missionary cleverly disguised as a college professor,” asserts Evan Griffin, senior campus staff at University of Cincinnati (UC). When he and his wife, Kim, joined The Navigators staff more than two decades ago, Evan took an adjunct teaching position to supplement their income while they were raising support. “Having an insider position at the University gave me a strong platform and credibility with students. Now I have 150 freshmen in my interpersonal communication classes each semester and I am able to establish rapport and discuss important life issues in the context of my interaction with students. It’s a unique and strategic position for ministry.”
Evan also tells the student Nav leaders at UC that they are missionaries cleverly disguised as students, and they are preparing for their next step when they will be teachers, engineers, or nurses, able to live out their faith by understanding the Good News and living out the Gospel.
As a communication professor, Evan is gifted at using illustrations to capture the attention and imagination of students. “I take the students into Nippert Stadium in the heart of the campus. I have them imagine their friends sitting in a section of the stadium. Then I cast vision for students to commit to pray for and connect with the person sitting right next to them. Then to pray for a whole row, and on and on. As students become discipling multipliers, the generations of disciples will fill rows, sections, and ultimately the whole stadium.”
This vision-casting is coupled with very intentional and practical leadership development. Each spring during a Navigator discipleship training weekend, students are paired up to learn about discipleship and to participate in practical exercises: having a quiet time together, learning how to share their God story together, practicing how to study the Bible together. This hands-on emphasis empowers student leaders to believe that they can grow and learn and be used by God to inspire other students.
Once students commit to leadership within the UC Navs group, there is an intentional focus on deepening them through “huddles,” small groups of leaders that gather regularly to share what they are hearing from God. The bias in these groups is toward application, knowing that more knowledge is not the key, but more experience in listening to and following God in real life situations is what’s important. The huddles provide a way to bring practical application into an environment of support and accountability.
Brendan is a student who experienced full-circle discipleship. From 5th grade on, Brendan was influenced at his church by Jeff, a UC Navs student who was being discipled by Evan. Brendan came to uc to study communication and met Evan early in his college career, both in class and in the UC Navs. He became a key student leader, and has been in a huddle with Evan for three years. Now Brendan is a graduate student and a teaching assistant; he is seeing the power of teaching as a way to develop relationships with students. The ministry at UC has multiplied through generations, and will eventually fill Nippert Stadium.