The Bridge Street Mission School (BSMS) class of 2015-16 graduated on April 28, 2016 and moved out shortly thereafter. Eight months of intentional community, fervent prayer, urban ministry, and Biblical teaching are over. Now what? you ask. Well, let me tell you what I think.
First off, BSMS was incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my first year out of high school. It was by far one of my best choices ever. I grew so much in ways I never imagined I could grow in. I met so many amazing people, had so many crazy experiences, and had some of the best times of my life with some of my new closest friends.
But that’s all over now. We graduated. I’m just stating it like it is. So where do we all go from here? I suppose we could all buy a house on the Westside (after all, “The Westside’s the Bestside”) and move in together and continue our own little BSMS. But who is that focusing on?
The Bridge Street Mission School has a clear mission and purpose: to prepare young people for a life of mission. Did you catch that? It is to prepare. That means we don’t stay there. That is why the last of the three phases of the school is called “The Sending Phase.” That means young people come in, learn about themselves, about God, about their world, about what impact they can make on the world, and are then sent out into that world. BSMS is a mountaintop. The director of our school is quick to remind us of this. He reinforces, “We weren’t meant to live life on the mountaintop.” The mountaintop experiences are incredible and formative, but their purpose is to equip us to go back to our homes, schools, jobs, and neighborhoods with a new-found vigor, purpose, and view on the world and those in the world. And most importantly, it’s about God and what He is doing, not on our personal comfort and stability.
So, then I must ask myself the question: is buying a house and moving in with the same people I spent eight months with glorifying God or myself? Is that fulfilling all He has for me? Is that what is most comfortable for me, myself, and I or about what God is doing for, through, and in me? At the end of the day, I would have to answer that question with a resounding “NO!”
Obviously, BSMS doesn’t last forever. BSMS prepares, equips, and sends us out. It doesn’t just give us a fish but teaches us how to fish and shows us where the pond is.
That, I believe, is what is so incredible about the Bridge Street Mission School: it ends. Now, before you go crazy on me, hear me out. If BSMS never ended, would you have a chance to put to use everything you’ve learned? Would you be able to pursue all your passions and use your God-given talents? Would it be all about God or all about you?
I am extremely thankful that BSMS ends. Now we can travel down the mountainside and back into our homes, schools, jobs, and neighborhoods. Now we can utilize all our newfound knowledge. We can use all that we have learned about ourselves to be the best we can be in whatever we are doing. We can pursue our dreams. We can truly make a difference in the world. After all, BSMS prepares young people for a life of mission. That is where we are now, in the life part. That is why BSMS was created. And also why I am so very thankful it came to a close.
One of the many highlights for me of my time at the Bridge Street Mission School was one of the last weeks when we wrote our own core values and personal mission statement. Both of those assignments helped bring so much clarity and purpose to my life. They give meaning to everything I do and who I am as a human being. My core values are:
Leadership. I am determined to model altruistic leadership.
Integrity. I am committed to living with integrity.
Community. I am devoted to pursuing community.
Excellence. I am dedicated to doing everything with excellence.
Selfless-service. I desire to live a life of selfless-service.
My mission statement is:
To be faithful in altruistic leadership, passionately utilizing my gifts and talents to inspire my family and community to live a life of integrity and excellence through my selfless-service, ultimately to bring glory to God.
Both my core values and mission statement give me purpose in my job, school, relationships, family, and neighborhood. They define my life of mission. Not my time on the mountaintop. Thank God for that!
How am I living those out literally? I’m so glad you asked! I employ those by doing my job to the best of my ability at Burch Fabrics while I am there for the month of May. By giving my all to the kids I’ll be serving at Pine Ridge Bible Camp this summer. By leading them with altruistic leadership. By living a life of integrity when no one is watching. By pursuing community and accountability. By doing everything with excellence. As the great Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’ ”
To wrap everything up. I am very glad the Bridge Street Mission School is over. It gives me and all the other students an opportunity to live for God in all areas of our lives and to truly make a difference on this beautiful and broken world. Thank God for endings. Seriously. Do it.