Are you starting a grad student Christian group? To help you, we put together a semester of short devotional readings for new grad groups.
-Hannah Eagleson, InterVarsity Emerging Scholars Network Associate Director & Scholar’s Compass Editor
Starting a Grad Group with Scholar’s Compass: Devotionals for Your First Semester
About Scholar’s Compass & These Readings
In over 30 years of serving Christian grad students & faculty at InterVarsity, we have found a deep hunger to connect faith and academic life. Sadly, we have also found a lack of devotional resources that help scholars do that. To fill the need, we launched an online devotional series for academics called Scholar’s Compass. Themes include connecting faith and your field, seeking God in everyday academic activities, and cultivating virtues as a scholar. We curated this set of Scholar’s Compass readings especially for new grad student groups.
This plan includes 16 readings for a semester’s worth of weekly devotionals. The readings include questions for discussion and a prayer. Feel free to use this list however it works best for you. Your group can simply read one entry per week together and discuss it. You could also choose just one unit to explore if you’re meeting monthly, skip a few entries if you have a shorter semester, etc. May God bless your meetings.
Introduction (1 reading): Critical Junctures by Bob Trube
As you encounter key decisions in graduate school, how will you approach them? ESN Director Bob Trube invites us on a journey of faith and wisdom. Originally written for the beginning of the semester, this short article is a great starting point for beginning a graduate group at any time of the year. Since this is the only article not in our Scholar’s Compass devotional format, we have provided questions and a prayer for your group to use below.
Questions for Critical Junctures: 1) What is a critical juncture or key choice you have already encountered in graduate school (or in your preparation for it)? 2) How do you feel that choice affected your academic career and your spiritual life? 3) Are you approaching any critical junctures right now? How could this new community support you at that critical juncture?
Prayer: Oh Lord, as we come to critical junctures in our lives and work, let us choose wisely, and let us follow You on whatever path we choose.
Section 1: Navigating Beginnings (4 readings)
As you begin meeting together, these readings focus on following God into new things. First, Professor W. Brian Lane shares his own journey to seeing the academic life as a vibrant way to follow God. Then, in a 3-part series, Dr. Lauri Swann encourages us to apply lessons from the life of Abraham as we explore new things in our academic lives.
Week 1: Glory-seeking Ministry in the Academic Life by W. Brian Lane
Week 2: Unchartered Territories, Part 1: Hearing God’s Voice by Lauri Swann
Week 3: Unchartered Territories, Part 2: Obedience by Lauri Swann
Week 4: Unchartered Territories, Part 3: Faith by Lauri Swann
Section 2: Finding God in our Fields (4 readings)
Loving your academic discipline comes naturally to many grad students, but how does it connect with faith? These four devotionals offer some examples of how different scholars bring their work and faith together in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. We hope they help you see more connections between your own academic discipline and your faith.
Week 1: Learning Scholarly Virtues from the Iliad by Bethany Bear
Week 2: Sharing the Wonder by Ruth Bancewicz
Week 3: Words of Authority by Deryck Chan
Week 4: Integrating Faith and Archaeology by Eline van Asperen
Section 3: Thriving in Difficulty (3 readings)
While we pray to flourish in everything we do, we sometimes face great difficulty in our lives and academic vocations. This series offers hope for navigating those tough times.
Week 1: Navigating the Rapids, Part 1 by Tamarie Macon
Week 2: Navigating the Rapids, Part 2 by Tamarie Macon
Week 3: Navigating the Rapids, Part 3 by Tamarie Macon
Section 4: Loving Your Campus & World as a Grad Student (4 readings)
As we seek to love our campuses and the world around us, God is with us in the everyday work of academia. These readings help remind us of how we can grow spiritually through our work and presence on campus, and how we can bless others. J. Nathan Matias reflects on a moment of hospitality that shapes his ongoing practices, Carmen Acevedo Butcher encourages us to humility, and Bethany Bowen-Wefuan helps us imagine a prayerful pedagogy. We conclude this section and the whole series with an encouraging reflection from Beth Madison.
Week 1: Student’s Bolognese by J. Nathan Matias
Week 2: Academics and Humility by Carmen Acevedo Butcher
Week 4: Stories for Life Beth Madison
Hannah Eagleson is Interim Associate Director of InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). She launched and still edits ESN’s collaboratively written devotional for academics, Scholar’s Compass. Hannah also crafts other community-building events and materials for ESN. She holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Delaware, and an MA from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. she’s working on a novel about a dragon who gave up fending off knights to become a tea importer in eighteenth-century England.