“Ministry inspires the art, and art pushes the ministry.” – Jaron Weatherly, CM Media Coordinator
One aspect of Campus Ministries at Regent that is so unique is how much it encompasses. What I mean by this is that the Campus Ministries (CM) team is very diverse, and there are many ways in which the student body can serve in ministry and be ministered to. One of these diverse components is CM Media. Jaron Weatherly, the media coordinator, heads up the team and is assisted by Sage Thomas, who serves technically as a second year apprentice, but also has come into the position of co-producer for the media team. Additionally, the CM Media team has two apprentices that help to create and edit what the media team produces.
The CM media department as we know it today was spearheaded by Pastor Mark Lawrence and Jaron Weatherly. It began to change from a strictly graphic focus to a production focus (meaning the introduction of videos, series, etc.) last March, when Jaron brought his vision and dreams of production to Pastor Mark.
“Basically, we got to create the media department from the ground up,” Jaron told me. “This is relatively one of the newest areas of CM.” Jaron continued to explain later, saying “the reason that [CM] Media got fast-tracked in the first place and became so essential was because of COVID.” What began with CM at Home has become what we as viewers get to see on a weekly basis.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Sage and Jaron and talk about the heart behind why they are each involved with CM Media. It was such a blessing to listen as they each shared. I asked them each what their favorite part of being in CM Media was, and each of their answers was really rich and deep.
“One of my favorite things, especially this semester… is that we are really taking a more story-driven [and] narrative-driven focus with all our content,” Jaron shared. He has found that students resonate more with stories and can connect on a deeper level with them. Sage’s perspective also shed some light on the heart behind her involvement with CM. She told me, “I would say my favorite thing has been… the video series… as a whole, because… it’s a powerful way to capture student life.” This student life that she touched on is not isolated to those most often associated with CM, but encompasses students from all different groups and backgrounds.
In both of their discussions of their favorite parts of CM Media, Sage and Jaron mentioned the various video series that they have the opportunity to work on/produce. These series vary in focus, theme, and subject, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. The CM Media team is introducing three new video series this semester. One of the newest ones is called The Conversation. It is a documentary series following the life of Dr. Joseph Umidi, the Vice President for Student Life, and, as Jaron said, “[talks] about leadership [and] how to build relationships with people, in a different way than we did in the last documentary”, which focused more on the dating/marriage side of relationships.
Another new series that CM Media is offering is called CM Rewind, which Sage explained to be “a way to recap what happened in CM for the week.” These videos give viewers a moment to reflect on and hear about University Chapel, Unchapel, and Life Groups. Another project is called Celebrate Life, which, as Sage noted, allows the media team “to branch outside of CM and get into other areas of student life and get to know how ministry is related to those things,”.
The third and final new project CM is introducing is called CM Shorts. These are motivated by narratives and story-telling, and, as Jaron described, are “different short films based on the fruits of the spirit.” They are all directed by different filmmakers from different walks of life. The quote from Jaron at the beginning of the article applies so clearly in this project, because the CM Media team’s hope is to “create and showcase diverse storytelling voices at this school.”
While CM Media is a relatively new part of what Campus Ministries has to offer, I also wanted to hear both Sage and Jaron’s dreams for the future of the media department. One aspect of growth that excited them had to do with outreach. Sage said, “This is long term, but I would love to see CM Media be something that reaches beyond Regent.” She continued to say that she hopes to see the “stories and videos… exceed [our graduation]… and inspire [others]…. And share ministry… outside of a chapel or a life group.” Jaron also added, “I would want to see media grow in the expansion of the team and the diversity of the team.” He continues to say that he would love to see the apprenticeship team and production team grow so that they can take on new projects.
While media may not be our first thought when thinking about ministry, something that Jaron and Sage both found to be of great importance was what Jaron called “the marriage of media and ministry.” What they meant by this statement is that media can play an important role in ministry, whether it be through expansion or something else. The goal of combining media and ministry is not to conform to modern culture, but to utilize gifts and talents to glorify God. “Media is a vessel,” Jaron said, “and we really… believe that.” So much of his heart for CM Media is to share the gifts and talents God has blessed both him and others with to ultimately glorify God. Sage also added a word of encouragement to readers, saying “don’t despise small beginnings.” She continued to say, “when the willingness [and] vision is there, not everything has to be perfect for it to be done with excellence.” If God is in it, He will use it as He sees fit.
CM Media is a very diverse, growing, and interesting aspect of Campus Ministries here at Regent. I encourage everyone to look out for the videos, graphics, and posts that the media team has put together, because CM Media has done and continues to do a wonderful job of proclaiming the values of Campus Ministries in a new and creative way. We look forward to seeing what else the team may have in store!