6 Qualities of a Great OCF Spiritual Advisor

6 Qualities of a Great OCF Spiritual Advisor

We asked our students what makes for a great spiritual advisor for their chapters, and here’s what they had to say:

Campus ministry is a priority for you.

Perhaps surprisingly, the number one theme among responses was simply being available, dependable, and enthusiastic about OCF. Students want a spiritual advisor who is a constant presence, who is available for counsel, who is consistent in their participation, and who shows up with enthusiasm and passion.

You know what you’re talking about and how to talk about it.

OCFers are seekers. They want to learn, and their desire for knowledge runs the gamut. They want a spiritual advisor who knows the Bible, the Church Fathers, and current events. They want you to see no topic as off-limits, encourage questions, and be bold in giving answers. They want to be in the presence of wisdom and intelligence–but they also want you to be intentional about your pedagogy. They long for discussion that is engaging and focused, and they know that a spiritual advisor who is a good listener and loves to teach will be able to offer them one.

You’re approachable and welcoming.

Unsurprisingly, college students want to connect with their spiritual advisor. They want to be treated respectfully and without judgement. They want to hang out with you, text you, and hear your story. They expect you to relate to their experience and be knowledgeable about college culture and demographics. They’re hoping you’ll find a place for them in your parish. And they want to bring their friends to OCF and know that new people will be welcomed with open arms.

You genuinely care about the students.

To be a great spiritual advisor, campus ministry can’t simply be another to-do on your checklist or approached like a class you must teach without getting to know the students. Students want to experience your love for them. They want a spiritual advisor who exudes kindness, compassion, understanding, gentleness, humility, and patience. One student used the word “nurturing” to describe this quality–they want you to know them and help them grow as if they are your own children.

Your leadership style is collaborative and communicative.

While a few students expected spiritual advisors to be creative event planners, most simply expected servant leadership that allowed for the students to be co-laborers in the ministry of OCF. They want to have input in the direction of their chapter, and they love spiritual advisors who are willing to serve in whatever manner is needed. And to make that happen, they’re hoping you’ll communicate with them regularly and consistently, listening to their ideas and guiding them to strengthen the whole OCF chapter.

Your own spiritual life is authentic.

Finally, college students want a spiritual advisor who is himself working out his own salvation. They want to be in the presence of someone who is prayerful, faithful, honest, discerning, and spiritually wise. They want to have evidence that you practice what you preach and are striving to live an authentic Christian life.

We are so grateful to the many clergy who serve as spiritual advisors on campuses across the United States and Canada, and we hope that having a student perspective on your work will be a reinvigorating reminder that college students are yearning for meaningful, spiritual relationships and that you can offer them precisely that.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Opens Registration for Its 2018 Summer Leadership Institute

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) Opens Registration for Its 2018 Summer Leadership Institute

BROOKLINE, MA — With its annual Summer Leadership Institute, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF)—the official college ministry for all twelve (12) jurisdictions of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops—continues its mission to develop Orthodox leaders to serve their local communities and the Church at large. OCF is pleased to announce that registration is now open for this year’s conference, which will be held from August 15-18, 2018 at St. Iakovos Retreat Center in Kansasville, WI. Details and registration information can be found at www.ocf.net/sli.

Made possible in part by a generous grant from Leadership 100, the Summer Leadership Institute is a four-day training program focused on developing in students the knowledge, skills, and practices of good Orthodox leaders. Students will participate in workshops led by OCF staff and student leaders as well as experts in Orthodox theology, spirituality, and pastoral ministry to help prepare them to be Christ-centered servant leaders.

Parishes and OCF advisors are encouraged to promote this program and to sponsor a student to attend the 2018 Summer Leadership Institute, helping to cultivate a new generation of leaders for local campuses, parishes, and the greater Church. Please email us at studentleadership@ocf.net with questions regarding the Summer Leadership Institute.

OCF encourages you to learn more and to support the ongoing work of this vital ministry by visiting its website or emailing the OCF National Office (info@ocf.net).

So You Want to Join the Student Leadership Board…

So You Want to Join the Student Leadership Board…

Student Leadership Board applications just opened, and we hope you are thinking about applying. Every year, we get lots of questions about the SLB, so we thought we’d help you out as you’re making your decision to apply (but really, you should).

What does the SLB do?

The students who serve on the SLB are the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of the ministry of OCF. You will get an opportunity to improve existing and develop new projects and programs that will impact your peers throughout the year. Ever used There’s a Saint for That? That’s the SLB. Been to a retreat, a College Conference, or a Real Break? The SLB had their hands in that, too. What about Orthodox Awareness Month, the OCF blog, the OCF podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, our social media accounts? Yep, you guessed it. SLB. You can read more specifically about each role on the applications here.

Wow, that sounds like a lot of work. What’s the time commitment?

While we do expect that SLBers will treat their role in OCF similar to an internship, most roles require 1-5 hours per week. There are times during the year when the time commitment is less and a few times when it might be more (especially leading up to or during an event), but this is a general guideline.

So, the SLB just runs OCF? How would I know what to do? Are there any non-students helping?

You are not alone as an SLBer! First off, if you are accepted to the SLB, you will attend free-of-charge the Summer Leadership Institute August 13-18. The first three days are dedicated entirely to preparing the SLB for their roles while the second half of the week will help you explore what it means to be an Orthodox Christian leader with other Orthodox students like you. You will also have mentoring relationships with OCF staff, clergy, and other leaders from major Orthodox ministries to guide you through the year. Finally, you will find that the SLB is like a little family–there to support you in your work on the SLB and your life in general. And, thanks to technology, your peers and mentors are always just a Slack message, video chat, or phone call away.

I’m super-stressed about after graduation. How does being on the SLB prepare me for my future?

In addition to receiving Orthodox leadership training at SLI and being a part of a community of peers and mentors to support you in your personal development, you will find that the work you do for the SLB will prepare you for life after graduation in a number of ways. Past SLBers say that their positions helped them develop and hone skills like time management, event planning, professional communication, conflict resolution, teamwork, and people management. SLBers receive letters of recommendation from the OCF staff not only for Orthodox internships and camping programs, but for jobs in a variety of fields. It’s not uncommon for an SLBer to have more to say in a job interview about their work on the SLB and how it has prepared them for life after college than they have to say about any other aspect of their college career.

Of course, we hope that first and foremost, being on the SLB prepares you for your future by helping you put Christ at the center and as the foundation of your life no matter what life brings you after graduation.

I’m not a theology major, and I don’t plan on working in Church ministry. Is the SLB for me?

YES! While some SLBers have gone on to pursue full-time ministry, many are now working as teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, Peace Corps members, social workers, and more! The SLB relies on a diverse combination of everyone’s unique God-given talents and interests. We need students invested in engineering, business, psychology just as much as those in religious studies. In fact, it’s typical that the majority of our board is not in an academic field related to ministry. We’re looking for Orthodox students with a heart to serve the Lord, no matter what career or academic path you are pursuing.

Are there any areas of study you are looking for on the SLB?

While we are primarily looking for students who love the Lord and are willing to serve, there are a few positions where area of study can be beneficial. For example, graphic design, marketing, and communications majors may want to consider applying to be the Media Student Leader; English, journalism, and communications majors may consider Publications.

I don’t like how OCF is run. Why should I be a part of the SLB if I don’t agree with what they are doing?

We are always trying to prayerfully discern how we can best serve Orthodox students like yourself. We hope that you will apply and bring your perspective, ideas, and energy to the SLB to improve campus ministry for the glory of God.

Can I apply for more than one position?

YES! But you will need to fill out separate applications for each position as they each have their own requirements and expectations.

I’m not even on my own chapter’s executive board. Can I still apply?

YES! In fact, we encourage (but not require) SLBers not to be on their chapter’s executive board during their term on the SLB. It’s a good way to share the responsibilities of OCF and make sure you can manage the SLB role appropriately with your course load.

My school doesn’t have an OCF chapter. Can I still apply?

YES! While Regional Student Leaders require a more intimate knowledge of OCF chapter life, the programming and outreach positions do not. Being on the SLB is a great way to join the OCF community if your local school can’t yet sustain its own chapter (but we’ll try to make that happen while you’re on the board, too).

I’m new to Orthodoxy/just rediscovering my faith. Would the SLB be a good place for me?

YES! We truly believe God often calls us to serve as a means to draw us nearer to Him. Serving on the SLB might be just exactly where you need to be right now.

I’m not perfect. How could I ever represent a ministry of the Church?

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”- 2 Cor 12:9

 

Have more questions? Email us at studentleadership@ocf.net.

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) #GivingTuesday Campaign Is an Overwhelming Success

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) #GivingTuesday Campaign Is an Overwhelming Success

BROOKLINE, MA — Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), the official campus ministry of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, is pleased to announce the overwhelming success of its recent #GivingTuesday campaign to raise awareness and support for this essential ministry to college students.

More than 150 donors, including almost 40 current students, contributed to OCF’s #GivingTuesday campaign this past November and December. Together, they raised $17,321, which was then matched by an anonymous donor for a total of $34,642. These funds help to support the many regional retreats and district events OCF hosts each semester. This semester, there are already sixteen events scheduled for students across all nine OCF regions. You can see which events are open for registration by visiting www.ocf.net/events.

As part of the #GivingTuesday campaign, OCF also held a contest encouraging students to spread the word about the ministry they love and inspiring others to donate. Three $1,000 scholarships were sponsored by an anonymous donor and awarded to the three students who brought in the most number of donors: Alexandra Benc (James Madison University), Nicole Petrow (Creighton University), and Rhea Sullivan (Pennsylvania State University).

OCF is grateful for all those who supported the 2017 #GivingTuesday campaign. If you would like to make a one-time or recurring contribution to OCF, please visit www.ocf.net/donate. You can learn more about the ongoing work of this vital ministry by visiting www.ocf.net or emailing info@ocf.net.

The Liturgy Is for You

The Liturgy Is for You

You know how some churches have a sign out front that says, “Come as you are”? I think it’s usually sort of code for, “Don’t worry, you don’t need to dress up.” But really, “come as you are” should mean just this. Come as you are–not only in your external appearance but in the core of your being. How beautiful it is that the Church truly means this when she says it! The Divine Liturgy does not require you to be in a good mood or to be happy with God or for you to completely understand every teaching of the Church or for you to be a “good” person.

But I know how it works. We listen to all sorts of excuses that pass through our minds of why we can’t or won’t or shouldn’t go. Well, to counter those temptations, I’d like to give you some reasons to come, of why the liturgy is for you.

Did something wonderful just happen in your life? Come, rejoice! The liturgy is for you.

Are you having a horrible week? Come, and like the psalmist, ask God, “How long will you forget me, Lord?” The liturgy is for you.

Are you struggling to concentrate during prayer? Come, breath in the incense even if the words rush pass you. The liturgy is for you.

Have you overcome temptation even once this week? Come, give thanks to God for giving you strength. The liturgy is for you.

Are you bearing a heavy cross or a deep fissure in your heart? Come, let your weight be lightened by Christ’s love. The liturgy is for you.

Have you been at church every week? Come, let your heart beat in sync with the rhythm of prayer. The liturgy is for you.

Has it been a long time since you’ve come to worship? Come, let your heart be reformed by the patterns of praise. The liturgy is for you.

Do you feel like you can never be or do enough? Come, to Christ you are precious and beloved, and He desires to make you whole. The liturgy is for you.

Is your life hectic and busy? Come, set aside all earthly cares and just for a moment, enter into the eternity of the Kingdom. The liturgy is for you.

Have you experienced loss and are grieving? Come, Christ joins you in your sorrow and weeps with you at the tomb. The liturgy is for you.

Are you lonely? Come, surround yourself with the great cloud of witnesses, both those who stand before the throne and those who stand beside you. The liturgy is for you.

Are you sick? Come, our Lord comforts and heals the weak in body and spirit. The liturgy is for you.

Don’t really understand what’s going on during the service? Come, for Christ desires all of you, not just your understanding, and in time, He will reveal to you His fullness. The liturgy is for you.

Have you sinned? Come, be reoriented towards the Orient from on High. The liturgy is for you.

I feel as though I could go on forever–there is not one emotional state or level of holiness or amount of intellectual understanding that is required for you to enter into the liturgy. The only requirement is that you are willing to actually face yourself, to let your heart be vulnerable and let Christ’s light reveal the dark corners–that you are willing to walk the journey of repentance and are open to being joined to Christ in love. So come as you are. The liturgy is for you.