Feb 27, 2007

Students speak on "Common Ground"

by Kristi Kirkland, Life! Reporter
Unknown to most students at Liberty, on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., a student-led worship service is held in David’s Place. A small group of students congregate to sing, pray and hear from the Word.
Liberty Seminary student Ben Forrest started this gathering, which is known as Common Ground.
Forrest went to a small Christian college in Idaho. During his time there, he attended a gathering each week where students had the opportunity to share testimonies with each other.

Forrest enjoyed hearing from his peers, and he said that is what prompted him to start Common Ground in the fall of 2005.

At Liberty, students hear a lot of “spiritual people” speak from the platform, said Forrest. But he wanted to give students like himself the chance to hear from those on their level who have similar perceptions and struggle with the same issues.

The setting is “low key” and “intimate,” said Forrest, and on average 30 to 40 people attend each week. Forrest added that Common Ground is “not just a production.”

Sophomore Kendal Halls, a regular at Common Ground, said campus church is so big and often it is hard to find people. This group, on the other hand, is small and laid back. And the set-up is simple, with no fancy lights and few instruments — just a couple of guys with guitars.

Halls began attending Common Ground last fall and has since become the manager of the technical aspect of the service. This includes making PowerPoints for the worship time.

“I fell in love with it,” said Halls, referring to her first visit to the gathering. She said she enjoys the close-knit community she experiences each Thursday evening the opportunity she has to meet new people each week.

Forrest, who went to Israel with Dr. Ergun Caner during Christmas break, has a heart for the world. As he speaks to the group, he shares this passion for reaching others — not just in this country, but around the world as well. As the group gathers for the first time this semester, they spend time praying for a list of missionaries Forrest reads off to them.

Halls likes to call Common Ground a “spontaneous” gathering. She said that the song choices are different each week, and there are a variety of speakers. “Each week, who knows what is going to happen?” said Forrest.

“We are here for a reason, and that is to grow in Christ,” said Halls. Forrest hopes that this gathering will allow students to “get plugged into ministry.”

He also hopes that those who attend will find ways to use their gifts and talents.

Most students have never heard of Common Ground, and Forrest admitted that they have not been able to do much advertising. Forrest has visited several evangelism classes and shared about Common Ground.

In addition, a Facebook group has been created to share information on the weekly meeting. Halls said they send out weekly reminders to those who are members of the group, but she added that most people find out about it through word of mouth.

For more details and information, check out the Common Ground Facebook group or contact Forrest at bkforrest@liberty.edu.

Contact Kristi Kirkland at kmkirkland@liberty.edu.

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