Austin Marsh – Staff

Student Conference Austin Marsh 2016 TN StaffProspect, Tennessee | 19 years old

Attending a Summit student conference often adds a few Christian buzzwords to your vocabulary, such as worldview, apologetics, and metanarrative. I took a great interest in the final word as a Summit student partly because I’m a very story-driven individual. The metanarrative is an outline of sorts that clearly describes the following four acts of the Christian story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.

Furthermore, since studying this story profoundly impacted my life, please allow me to retell my Summit story from the dual perspective of student and staff.

If I were to summarize my experience as a Summit student, I could easily describe it with one phrase, “culture shock”—and, no, that’s not because my fellow public schoolers and I were outnumbered by homeschoolers for the first time in our lives. I use the term “culture shock” as a reference to the open community of Summit where questions, even difficult ones, are almost expected by the faculty and staff.

Coming from a background where questions were perceived to be a hindrance to faith, Summit opened my eyes to the fact that Christians aren’t lacking in the intellectual marketplace of ideas. A blind faith in something that lacks comprehension ultimately leads to a disastrous or perhaps even harmful outcome. This type of faith described my personal situation coming into Summit as a student, but a transformative change definitely took place as a result of attending.

Summit literally changed my life for the better. So my natural response was a desire to return again and see what else I could experience through the stories of great communicators like Mike Adams or Jeff Myers. I was excited to see what else I could gain from these stories, and, better yet, how God could use these stories to push me towards action. However, God had other plans, because I realized that I met the qualifications to apply for summer staff. Long story short, I was literally on the verge of tears when I received the phone call that I would be staffing both sessions of Summit Tennessee. I was ecstatic to return.

Staffing definitely provides a different perspective on the Summit student conference because it allows me to engage with the content on a completely different level. For example, I am very passionate about building deeper relationships and leading others to follow their God-given passions into their vocations. Being a student did not exactly allow me to do this in the manner that I am able to do so as a staffer.

It’s an interesting challenge to relate the topics covered in the classroom to learning about my small group guys’ stories, but that’s just half the fun of being a small group leader. I thrive off of deeper discussion with individuals, no matter if I’m the one leading or learning, so leading a small group felt very natural to me, even though this is my first experience. I can’t wait to see what God does next in the lives of these students. I consider it a great blessing that He chose to write my story in a way that merges with the stories of my small group guys if only for 12 days.

Authentic life with one another almost seems like an automatic response at a place like Summit, and I consider myself very fortunate to see this idea played out from both a student and staff perspective.