On January 23, 2015, the Veritas et Caritas Institute (VCI) welcomed author and speaker Derek Melleby to our campus. Mr. Melleby led discussions during both the Student Symposium, “Who Am I? The Voices of Culture, the Truth of God,” and the evening gathering, “Life After High School: a seminar about purpose, faith, and community.”
Derek Melleby is the Director of Academics for OneLife, a gap year program based at Lancaster Bible College. He also has directed the College Transition Initiative of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding since it began in 2005 and continues to serve CPYU as an associate staff member. He has also served on staff at the Evangelical Free Church of Hershey, PA and the Coalition for Christian Outreach. He holds an MA in Higher Education from Geneva College and is currently working on a doctorate from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Derek is the author of Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life and Learning (Baker Books, 2011) and co-author of Learning for the Love of God: A Student’s Guide to Academic Faithfulness (Brazos Press, 2014). He is passionate about creating opportunities for students and parents to have more meaningful conversations about their identity in Christ and about life after high school.
Derek lives in Mount Joy, PA with his wife Heidi and three sons.
To promote his book, Make College Count:
Courtesy Fuller Youth Institute:
College Transition Initiative:
The Voices of Culture, The Truth of God
The Voices of Culture, the Truth of God
Teenagers and young adults face many challenges to finding their identity in Christ. We are all tempted to find our identity in external things rather than in things that are internal and eternal. The “voices of culture” beckon us to find our identity in: what we buy; how we look; what we do; the friends we have. The “truth of God” reminds us that our true identity is secure in Christ.
Led by speaker and author Derek Melleby, this VCI student symposium explored the ways in which teenagers are challenged to find their identity and self worth in external things by getting them to take a closer look at what lies behind their choices in:
- the products they buy, revealing how advertisers often try to sell a worldview and identity
- the way they look (body image), exposing the lies behind images portrayed on magazine covers and billboards
- what they can achieve, paying attention to how easy it is to find their value and worth in athletic performance, academic achievement, and extra curricular activities
- the company they keep, helping them to make wise decisions in the people they surround themselves with (especially on the Internet!)
The symposium also focused on the spiritual disciplines and practices that nurture our identity in Christ. Life can be noisy. It is often very difficult to hear the voice of God. We need to be intentional about creating space in our lives to be reminded that we are children of God. Participants developed a deeper understanding of discipleship, connecting their faith to everyday habits and practices.
Life After High School
Purpose, Faith, and Community
In the Life After High School Seminar, speaker and author Derek Melleby addressed challenges students face transitioning from high school to college. This multimedia seminar was engaging, interactive, and challenged teenagers and parents to think deeply about four crucial questions to ask before starting or considering college:
- What kind of person do I want to be?
- Why am I going to college?
- What do I believe?
- With whom will I surround myself?
Designed to focus on the unique pressures and influences students face in higher education, this seminar and related support materials helped students and parents better understand and prepare to face these pressures and challenges from a distinctively Christian perspective. Hope and encouragement were offered to participants by challenging and equipping them to respond with solid and practical tools.
The seminar was composed of five sections. Each section included video clips and “on the street” interviews of current college students commenting on the college transition and offering advice to incoming students. The theme of “story” runs through the entire presentation inviting students to consider how their story fits into God’s story.
Praise for the Seminar
“Derek’s presentation is like a Pixar movie. It’s intended for youth (high school students) and they are really into it, but the parents also see the importance of his message and love the sessions as well.”
~ Mark Hershey, Director of High School Ministries, Hope Community Church, Witchita, KS
“This seminar raises the bar on the college preparation process. You will hear some things that you won’t hear anywhere else. It’s a different kind of college presentation. My daughter (high school senior) said it was the ‘best’ large group presentation she has seen at our church. Most relevant.”
~Pam Stroup, Director of Parent Ministries, McLean Bible Church, McLean, VA
“You gave me fresh perspective on how to communicate and motivate youth during this transition. Your presentation was extremely substantial and I could not stop taking notes the entire time. I was impressed with the depth and frankness you shared with the students. I have been a Christian educator for 12 years now and I found your organization, examples, and outline to be richly transformative.”
~Daniel Townsley, Guidance Counselor, Legacy Christian Academy, Dallas, TX
“The College Transition Seminar is the best seminar I’ve experienced for preparing students for the challenges they will face during college life. The presentation was excellent, true, and relevant for today’s world. Every student needs this ”
~Troy De Bruin, Youth Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Lancaster, PA
“Derek has a gift for connecting with students and parents. At the college transition seminar he presented the college experience as a transformational opportunity. He challenged students and parents to live thoughtfully, intentionally and engage the culture. After the event several parents asked to have Derek back and wished they would have invited a friend or family member. They believe that this is a message our church needs to hear. Since his talk in August, our student ministry staff and volunteers have been strategically thinking through how to make the high school to college transition seamless within the wall of the church. I am thankful for the insight and passion Derek’s presentation brought to VPC. Derek was able to speak truth about the reality of the college transition in a way that brought life and passion to our congregation!”
~Kayla Gray, Director of College Ministries, Vienna Presbyterian Church, Vienna, VA