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LifeFocus is a one week, live in discipleship program training high school and college students to stand confidently for Christ in a hostile world. Hosted by the elders of the Topeka Reformed Presbyterian Church, participants will together pursue transformation in the truth of Christ. The mission of LifeFocus is to glorify God by training students to feed on the Scriptures and focus their understanding of Jesus’ unique purpose for their lives, loves, and vocations (more FAQs here).
LifeFocus is a ministry that grew out of a sermon in my youth that in turn sparked a lifelong mentoring relationship. At the encouragement of my pastor someone gave me a soul-stirring sermon on cassette tape by Dawson Trotman entitled “Born To Reproduce.” Under the Spirit’s conviction following that sermon, I called my young friend Eric Filson and challenged him to read and study the Scriptures with me. We agreed to begin meeting at 6 a.m. on Tuesday mornings. We read the Scriptures aloud and memorized Proverbs 2. We journaled our daily meditations, and challenged each other to grow in Christ. Those days of fellowship began a remarkable friendship that has grown over years. For seven years in Indianapolis we co-labored together seeking to train disciples for service in the kingdom of God. We served and sang and backpacked with a band of brothers. And we saw God use us to build deeply into the lives of men.
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But then the Lord very clearly called me away from my home church, the church where we had grown up and served together. Concern for the young men of the congregation spurred on a late-night phone conversation and a pointed challenge for Eric to continue the work of man-to-man discipleship. And he did.

Fast forward several years, and I was a seminary graduate being ordained into Gospel ministry in a small Reformed Presbyterian church in upstate New York. Eric called to inform me that he – and one of his men whom I had led to Christ years before – would be attending to support me in the sober occasion of my ordination. They came, and sometime during that stay the idea emerged of having a weeklong training program over spring break for high school and college students from the local area and from our hometown in Indianapolis, Indiana. My church was behind the idea, so in 2005 we hosted the first LifeFocus program (then called Deaconos ’05) focusing on Christ’s call to servanthood.
The week was a slightly chaotic, underfunded success. Each year since then LifeFocus has morphed and changed slightly, addressing a variety of topics but zeroing in more narrowly on the purpose of challenging students to stand confidently on the Biblical foundations worked out through the history of Christ’s church. Each year God has enabled Eric and I to invest a week of intense fellowship with these students, challenging them intellectually and spiritually to pursue God’s purpose for them. LifeFocus is designed to be a strong dose of doctrine in the context of intimate, Christ-centered fellowship.
LifeFocus Team 2008
LifeFocus 2010
Upon my family’s move to Topeka Reformed Presbyterian Church in LifeFocus 2011 underwent yet another reworking. Elders and members of TRPC served the twelve students as they delved deeply into the topic of Apologetics (including lectures from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries). Past topics have included Biblical Archaeology, The Blazing Center (w John Piper lectures), The Promise Keeper (w R. C. Sproul lectures), and others.

So what does LifeFocus look like? Between ten and twenty students will redeem their spring break week and draw apart from the rat race of school and work to refocus on the things that matter most. Students will bunk at the Topeka RP Church under the supervision of counselors (including Eric and his dear wife, Alissa!), and each day attend more than four hours of live or video lectures on an annual topic.
What are some of the distinctives of the LifeFocus ministry? First, our goal is to feed upon precise Biblical doctrine within a personal, "all-questions-welcome" environment. We keep the students together as must as possible, and encourage them to meditate and sing and pray and visit together a lot. Second, we are continually amazed at how the LifeFocus team encourages members of Topeka Reformed Presbyterian Church, even as we seek to serve the team. Each evening members of the congregation host a portion of the team in their homes, folding them into family devotions or fellowship times. Third, the LifeFocus staff are intent to intentionally reproduce reproducers, holy and rugged disciples of Jesus who are burdened and engaged to help others grow up into Christ. Fourth, we have learned the value of getting quality and classic books into the hands of each student to build their Reformed library. Long term, such assets will help students to dig deeply and articulate a confessional and Reformed faith. Finally, we are seeking to leverage social media resources to bring leave "large, lasting digital footprings" on the Internet. Our goal is to present each week-long conference message online in aesthetic, accessible and lastings ways.
LifeFocus 2012 Student Study
LifeFocus 2012 Prayer for Eric & Alissa
Topeka RPC has encouraged me to immerse myself in this week of ministry. It is thrilling for me to spend hours together with the students the Lord brings from a variety of settings. Focused lectures, meals, informal conversation, and car rides together are all times of sharpening these students. As a facilitator for the week, one privilege for me is to spend individual counseling time with students. The purpose is to probe, focus, and encourage each student in their understanding of Christ’s call upon their lives. One of the great recurring pleasures of LifeFocus is spending time hanging out with my buddy, and comrade-in-arms Eric Filson, who continues to be a great friend and fellow worker!

Please pray the Lord would use the labors of this LifeFocus ministry for the glory of His Holy Name.

by Pastor Brad Johnston

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