As a rapidly growing student ministry, the leaders of Wesley KU desired to deepen the relationships of those engaged on the peripherals. Through a Pathways for Discipleship Ministry and Outreach Grant, the Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation partnered with the student ministry in achieving this goal.
Over the course of three years, the ministry of Wesley KU grew from five students to more than 260 students in the spring of 2019. Through their various ministries, which included weekly worship, food ministries, small groups, and more, Wesley KU reached an average of 500 students every week.
However, for Wesley KU, it was not just about the number of students who attended, but building deeper connections with students who came. A leadership brainstorming session led to the 200 Cups of Coffee project being created with a purpose of assisting student leaders to initiate conversations that build relationships. Through inviting students for a coffee, it would create a space for genuine conversations to occur.
“Two hundred Cups of Coffee is a great program that has strengthened my relationship not only with strangers and friends, but also with God,” Gyasi Talib, Wesley KU student leader said. “It has done so all through the comfort of community and gathering with those I can trust, to have both simple and complex conversations relating to our faith. There were moments where questions and challenges arose. Yet with each new obstacle, it was an opportunity to shed light on my experiences, how God has shaped me, and how I translate the Word into my day and life. No other experience has given me this opportunity to speak so freely with my peers and to discern how faith has affected others.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it changed the way ministry looked on campus, but the 200 Cups of Coffee project remained relevant for the student leaders.
“Once the pandemic hit, I started using coffees to check in with people, especially those who were stuck on campus and didn’t have the opportunity to go home,” Amarais Towle, Wesley KU student leader said. I think that was really helpful for students who just wanted to chat and feel normal over a coffee, but also helpful for students who needed someone to sit and process everything with. As towns and businesses have started to open up, I’ve been able to meet with people in person more and get their opinions on how they want our ministry to look in the coming year if things have to remain online. This has been hugely rewarding because we’ve heard so many opinions and new ideas that have helped us begin to adjust our ministry to what our students need and to stay relevant in their lives.”
Through 200 Cups of Coffee, student leaders developed and strengthened their gifts for evangelism and discipleship, helping to equip them to impact their communities, workplace, and church throughout their lifetimes.
“The program has helped student leaders become more comfortable with inviting other students into conversation where it becomes possible to build deeper relationships and talk about faith,” Susan Mercer, Wesley KU Director and Campus Minister said. “The casual atmosphere encourages slowing down and lingering a bit, and communicates to the student that they are important. For student leaders, it’s a fun way to approach evangelism. I’ve seen students become more confident in faith-sharing and more outward focused toward students not connected or loosely connected with the ministry.”
As a result of the 200 Cups of Coffee project at Wesley KU, one student leader decided to become an intern for the upcoming year. In addition, one intern is now exploring her call into ministry.
“It's true that seeds were already being planted, but this program really gave her an opportunity to develop an important ministry during a challenging time,” Susan said. “In turn, she received new insight into her gifts as she saw the fruits of the Spirit in her work.”
The Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation is grateful for the many donors who allow us to partner with Wesley KU and other churches and organizations in their important ministry initiatives.
The Pathways for Discipleship Funds offer matching grants for churches and organization in three key areas of ministry: Children and Youth, Ministry and Outreach, and Leadership Education. For more information on supporting the Foundation’s grant ministry or to apply for a grant, please visit www.kaumf.org/grants. Applications are due by September 1, 2020. If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-664-9623.