Word geeks like me sometimes find reading biblical passages to be sticky business. While framing up our theme for the year in Grad Faculty Ministries, I spent several days in the opening chapters of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. Scraping my retinae again and again over chapters one and two, I could feel the same splinters snag. Paul kept using words that pull-things-together like stitches joining fabrics.

Syn-Sym words

Paul uses what I’m going to call Syn-Sym words. Syn is the greek prefix meaning “together”. When we see it in English, it makes total sense. Symphony – literally “together-sound” or Synergy “together-work”. The syn/sym word I spotted in my Ephesians passage was the word sympolites – Fellow-citizens. You are no longer strangers and aliens, but sympolites with God’s people…

Later in that same passage I found an even more juicy syn/sym word: You also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Being-built-together: synoikodomeo. Just how many sym/sym words can you find in New Testament Greek? In the BAGD Greek-English Lexicon on my shelf you’ll find at least 18 pages of wonderous Syn/Sym words! Symphero: to journey together, Synergos: fellow-worker, and one of my personal faves, Synkakopatheo: to suffer together with.

You can see where this is headed. While searching for a great word to launch a campaign about spiritual friendship, I landed on Syntrecho: to run together / go together with. Since English readers more readily spot the word Trek, I went with Syn-trek (had nothing to do with my favorite brand of bicycle). I was explaining all this to a friend when he stopped me and said, “You know, Tim, that’s gonna sound a lot like Sin Trek to people whose ears are already tuned to Star Trek.” Exactly! Adventures together in sin! Not!

So there you have it. Syntrek! In Mark 6:33, Jesus makes an escape from the masses, intent on taking the disciples to a remote location (for a personal retreat with himself). The crowds, realizing that there were only so many places for them to land on a relatively small body of water, RAN TOGETHER as one to the other side and met up with Jesus there. They saw them. They recognized Jesus. They ran together, with Jesus as their shared destination. The perfect word-picture for a network of people recognizing and striving together to connect with Jesus! Syntrek!

Syntrek Partners

Pairs (or even triads) of people “running together” is the perfect format for exploring Spiritual Friendship. Instead of searching for people in isolation and bringing them into a community of belonging (my former small group community strategy) we’re now bringing grad students two by two (so to speak). Disciple-making in the academy need not begin with a large group of Christians. Or even with a small group bible study. The building block is a simple friendship – yet a strategic friendship intentionally forged in rhythms of spiritual disciplines. As Syntrek Partners explore Spiritual Friendship with one another, their simple and oft-repeated investments of time with each other become a way of running-together-after-Christ in the context of their academic discipline. Read more on the Syntrek Blog about forming a partnership and getting started. Check out the experiences of those on the path. Talk to the leadership in your Graduate Faculty Ministry context about how Syntrek could help build your fellowship.

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