Josh Cook says for him, GenSend is about one thing — creating Kingdom citizens.
And this year, after plans were largely canceled for GenSend in summer 2020, he has 20 students on the ground in Denver learning to be just that. Through GenSend, a team of students spends six to eight weeks learning mission principles while living them out in the context of the city. This summer, more than 260 students will serve across 12 cities.
The Denver group arrived May 31, said Cook, pastor of Dwell Church and GenSend coach for Denver. The students work in a big group sometimes, but they are also split into four smaller cohorts working with four church plants across the city. While they’re in Denver, all 20 are living on a downtown university campus.
Cook says he and other leaders want the students to grow in three primary ways over the summer:
1. Living on mission.
While they’re there, Cook and others train students on how to build relationships with the intent to share the gospel — and then follow through and share it. As they go about their life, they find “third spaces” — places other than home and work where people spend time, such as soccer leagues, coffee shops and gyms.
“We’re giving you 60 hours a week to be able to practice what it looks like to live on mission so when life gets busy — you get a job and have a family and you only have 10 hours to do it — you’ll already have good, strong muscle memory,” Cook said. “We want them to infiltrate the city as best they can to share the gospel.”
He’s already seen that happening in the first couple of weeks since the students arrived. As they’ve lived on campus, they’ve befriended a woman from India who recently moved to Denver to work on her Ph.D.
“She didn’t know anyone and didn’t know how to use the train,” Cook said. “They’ve already prayed with her, bought groceries for her and FaceTimed with her family back home. They have become completely endeared to one another. All of that was not part of the program, it was just where they lived. It put them in contact with someone who needs Jesus from across the planet.”
2. Partnering with relief ministries.
While in the city, students will also partner with Send Relief to do homeless ministry. They’ll also do some mapping in the city and serve with a compassion ministry that’s attached to their local cohort.
It will teach them teamwork but also the ability to be a self-starter, Cook said.
3. Partnering with church plants.
GenSend students aren’t interns who make copies and coffee — they “show up and instantly they are super volunteers,” Cook said.
The summer is like church planting team member boot camp, he said. “They become part of the core leadership of that church plant.”
It benefits the church plants for sure — their “busy, very often overworked” volunteers can get a bit of a break over the summer as students fill out the worship teams or connect teams, Cook said. It also gives church plant members some inspiration as they see students out there sharing the gospel every single day, and it gives them the opportunity to disciple and show hospitality to someone younger than them.
Not only that — it shows students what it would be like for them to join a church planting team after graduation. Cook has a couple of former GenSend students at his church now, as well as a student who did virtual GenSend in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even in an off-year, God redeemed our GenSend efforts,” he said.
For more information about GenSend, visit namb.net/gensend.
Published June 14, 2021