By Troy Hill
Photos by Ellie Wendt

College students from all over the state came together for Surge, Christian Challenge AZ’s annual discipleship conference, at Emmanuel Pines Camp in Prescott, Feb. 7-9.

Adam Groza, vice president for enrollment and student services at Gateway Seminary, spoke to the students about this year’s theme: Gospel Confidence.

“We need to be confident in who Christ is, what Christ has done — and that confidence needs to affect the way we live,” he said.

Groza spoke on many subjects over the weekend, such as having courage, God’s passion for His glory, being bold in evangelism, and sanctification. But all of these played into what Groza said the main message for the weekend was: that the students, as Christians, need to be confident in the gospel.

One of the biggest phrases from the speaking sessions that caught on with people was, “It’s not an evangelism problem, it’s a passion problem.” This phrase was used to illustrate why evangelism lacked in so many people’s lives — they simply aren’t passionate enough about it.

“We want Christians to really be preaching the gospel to themselves, reminding themselves of the gospel,” Groza said. “If they are doing that, then that will affect their lives. …  Focus on the gospel produces lasting change.”

Groza also emphasized the importance and practicality of the gospel so that it doesn’t take a “backseat to more pragmatic concerns” in college students’ lives.

“There is nothing more pressing and nothing more practical than the gospel,” he said. “It’s not the beginning of the Christian life. It’s the whole of the Christian life.”

The attendees listened to Groza during sessions and Q&As and then spent time discussing the content in their local campus groups. They also spent lots of free time exploring the Emmanuel Pines campus and relaxing on their short time away from school.

Trevor Bush, Christian Challenge’s central region catalyst, said the goal of the conference is to foster spiritual formation in its attendees, no matter where they are in their walk in their faith.

“I think the number one thing is that [students] encounter Jesus and walk away with some sort of step forward in their walk,” Bush said.

Danae Mueller, a freshman kinesiology major from the ASU Downtown Challenge, said the worship, led by Bush, was her favorite part.

“[The music] worked really well with the message,” Mueller said. “It was also really nice to be out in nature, to get away from the city.”