Mencarelli Shares About Campus Theme from the Book of Matthew: “Follow Me”
Brent Mencarelli serves as the dean of chapel at Grace College. He and the students on his chapel team are passionate about creating a chapel experience that is personal, Christ-centered, and gives each student the opportunity to grow spiritually. The campus theme for the 2021-22 school year is “Follow Me,” which comes from the book of Matthew. It is our goal to integrate Matthew into all parts of campus life — from chapel, to growth groups, to athletic teams, to casual conversations at the dining hall.
Want to learn more about Grace College’s campus theme? Read on to hear all about it from Brent Mencarelli himself!
1) Why does Grace College have a campus theme?
Grace College has a campus theme for several reasons. First and foremost, we are a Christ-Centered institution. All that we do and believe centers around the person of Jesus. His word guides our institution from beginning to end, so every year we choose a book from Scripture that we will study as a campus. Our campus theme is then taken from the chosen book. Our campus themes center our community on God’s word and foster opportunities for spiritual growth and worship, whether it be in chapel, in the classroom, or in the residence halls.
2) Why was the book of Matthew chosen for this year’s theme?
There are a few rhythms that go into choosing our campus theme. We try to follow a pattern of choosing books from both the Old and New Testaments. We also look to build on the previous year’s theme. This past year our theme was focused on gaining godly wisdom and using wisdom to rightly navigate our lives. As we contemplated that theme, one major theme that arose was Jesus as the ultimate embodiment of wisdom. It seemed fitting then to have our next campus theme be focused on a Gospel where we could learn what it means to follow Jesus.
3) What are you most looking forward to discussing about Matthew?
Our campus theme this year comes from the words Jesus spoke to his disciples in Matthew 16:24: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.’”
My hope is to focus our attention on three main things in following Jesus:
- Humility – “Deny yourself.”
- Self-Sacrifice – “Take up your cross.”
- The need for a singular value, namely, Jesus himself – “Follow ME.”
When considering the Christian faith, there is nothing more important than following Jesus. When any trial, question, or triumph arises, we must always commit to following Jesus with our entire lives.
4) Do you have any advice for students wanting to study Matthew in their quiet times?
Matthew is a narrative; it’s a historical story. So my advice would be to read small portions, but also give yourself the opportunity to read large portions of it so that you can experience and hear the narrative. Often we can get stuck in only reading a section at a time. The gospel writers wrote in unique ways, and absorbing more of the text in one sitting can help us better understand the emphasis throughout. Beyond that, I would challenge every reader to ask themselves, “What does it look like to follow Jesus, given what I’ve just read?”
Fast Facts on the Book of Matthew
Part of following Jesus means knowing what God’s Word says so we can model our lives after Christ. This was true for the original readers and still applies to us today. In order to properly study and understand Matthew, one must know the basic information surrounding and contained in the text. In Matthew, readers will encounter the very words of Jesus, where He walked, what He did, and how He glorified God on earth. Continue reading for some fast facts about the book of Matthew.
Author: Matthew (Levi)
Purpose: To prove that Jesus is the Messiah and the eternal king.
Setting: Matthew was a Jewish tax collector, (a hated member of society) before Jesus called him to be a disciple. All four Gospel books bridge the gap between the Old and New Testaments.
Key People: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the disciples, the religious leaders, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Mary Magdalene.
Key Places: Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Galilee, and Judea.
Main Themes from the Book of Matthew
Jesus Christ, the King: Jesus walked on earth proclaiming His identity as God’s Son. The Pharisees sought to kill Jesus because of this, however, and it was used against Him during the trials before His crucifixion.
The Messiah: Many Jewish people in Jesus’ day thought that the Messiah would be born into royalty and go to battle for them on a mighty steed. Jesus was not what they were expecting, but exactly what they needed. Throughout the book of Matthew, many people who encountered Jesus realized He was the Messiah and then began to revere Him.
Kingdom of God: Jesus taught a lot about God’s kingdom, specifically how to enter the kingdom. He preached a message counter to the popular thought that one had to be perfectly righteous and follow all the laws of Moses. Jesus knew that God did not want empty ritual, but a living relationship with His creation.
Teachings: Jesus taught mainly using parables, which touched the hearts of every audience He spoke to. He also prepared His disciples to teach after His ultimate ascension. This was His main mode of advancing God’s message.
Resurrection: Christ’s resurrection sent shock waves throughout the world. The leaders of that day thought they had quenched the influence Jesus had, but by killing Him, they were an essential part of God’s plan. His resurrection is our hope and why we celebrate that God reigns over every part of life.
We are so excited to see how God will work in the lives of students this year as we study Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life. We hope that each student will learn how they can follow Jesus in a deeper, more meaningful way. Through growth group experiences, we pray that residence halls will grow closer together as they walk through the Scriptures and are able to spur each other along in their walks with Christ. Finally, we hope that students and faculty alike will bring the conversation about the book of Matthew into everyday life.
Want to learn more about our chapel experience and Christ-centered focus? Visit our chapel website for details on time, location, attendance requirements, and much more.