Small Groups

Small groups have always been a very important part of Ignite. I remember nervously walking into my first small group my freshman year and being terrified but feeling the Lord calling me to dig deeper, to invest myself in this ministry and church, and to own the mission of Ignite for my own life. Buying into the mission of Ignite meant putting myself in a situation of vulnerability with a group of girls that I had never met before and that terrified me, but God used that first experience to write a little piece of my ongoing grace story. That year I learned that regardless of my past, which at the time seemed insignificant and uneventful, I was a broken sinner in need of a savior, and I was able to look back on the times in my life which seemed insignificant and recognize that God had spared me from so much hurt and heartache. God continued my story by giving me an opportunity to be discipled, one on one, by my small group leader and then eventually to become a small group leader. Although I felt inadequate as a leader, and still do, my hope is that through digging in the word together God reveals to us more about His character and how He is shaping us into the image of Christ.

This year my small group is studying the book of James. Through reading James God is challenging us to be doers, not just hearers of the word, and to live out our faith. He is urging us to seek wisdom and showing us that good works are a result of our faith, not a means to it. I am fortunate enough to be able to co-lead our group with my friend Olivea, and this semester God has placed on both of our hearts the importance of what happens after this semester is over, and after college is over. Our hope is that our small group isn’t a crutch to simply help our girls “get through” college, but a starting off point. We pray that they continue to live God glorifying, gospel centered, missionally driven, disciple making lives in their future careers, with their future spouses, when they are raising up the future generation of believers. We pray that our time together at small group is showing them the importance of surrounding yourself with a community of believers and that they would continue to surround themselves with this type of community wherever God calls them in the future. We pray that our studying of God’s word wouldn’t be only heard, as James warns, but that it would spur them into action, and this pattern of hearing and obeying would become second nature. This is my prayer for every student at Ignite, and that through us every college student in Southwest Florida would have repeated opportunities to hear and respond to the Gospel.

If you aren’t a part of a small group I encourage you to join one. I’m praying that God continues to use small groups to further his kingdom, and I’m thankful to be a part of what he’s doing at and through Ignite, in small groups, and on the campus of FGCU.


- Caitlyn

Intimacy with God

We were created for intimacy. 

That’s the beauty of God’s design for us. We are created for intimate relationship. The problem is that we often search for God’s designed intimacy in all the wrong places.  We strive to find it in relationships, we strive to find it in appearances, we even strive to find it on our social media.  But we won’t find the fullness of intimacy in those places.

But there is really, really good news! God has invited us into a deep, thriving intimacy with Him. I know that can be something that we just brush aside as common “church talk”, but I hope you take a moment to recognize the magnitude of a truth like this:

The God of Heaven, who spoke all things into existence, who is above all things, before all things, and holding all things together – this God has invited YOU into a personal, intimate relationship. WOW!

When we begin to understand this, it is life changing! We begin to find our identity, our hope, our comfort, and our purpose in this relationship. We begin to grasp the fact that He has chosen to send His Spirit to indwell us with power for all that we need. We start to realize that we can communicate with Him through prayer and we can deepen the relationship through study of His Word, the Bible. We realize that our greatest treasure is knowing Jesus.

Some of you are living into this incredible relationship even as you read. Some of you, though, are searching for it in all the wrong places. But to both of you, I say the same thing: pursue Jesus. Ask God to grow your intimacy with Him. Meditate on the Word of God with great discipline. Surrender yourself moment by moment to His work in and through you. Live into the relationship that God designed for you. And above all keep Him as your greatest treasure.

We were created for intimacy and we can find it in Jesus.

- Adam

Personal Mission

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
1 Peter 2:9

“I just wish I knew God’s purpose for my life”

That is a phrase I believe is common among college students, myself included. We are at a time in our lives where we are deciding what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We find ourselves trying to “figure out” God’s plan, but if we spend all our time trying to decipher God’s plan for our lives, we will lose sight of the mission He’s given us today. That is to glorify Him in the places we live, work and play.

If you frequent Ignite, you have probably heard the story John Piper tells of the man who responded to an alter call at the church his father was pastoring. As the man walked toward the alter, he was weeping. He wept as he lamented, “I wasted it! I wasted my life.” Adam often follows this story by encouraging us not to waste our college years. Whatever we do, whether its eating at Tijuana on a Wednesday night, or sippin’ on an Arnold Palmer with some friends, we should do it to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31)! A wonderful aspect about the life we live as Christians is the fact that God made it possible, though Jesus Christ, for us to join Him on His mission to make Himself known to all creation. That mission is to shine as light in the dark places, to radiate the light of Jesus with everyone we encounter. It is a mission we can only accomplish by boldly proclaiming the good news of the gospel: Jesus saves sinners.

So if bringing glory to God by spreading the gospel is our mission, where is our mission field? The answer is simple. It won’t require us to take a semester off and travel to a different country (although, if that is what God has called you to do, then AMEN). No, our mission field is where God has placed us. It’s where we are right now. It will require intentionality and a heart that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It will require prayer and pleading with God to make us aware of the opportunities He prepares. And it will require courage. Our mission field is Target, where we engage in small talk with the cashier. Our mission field is Starbucks, where we study and engage the person next to us in a conversation. Our mission field is the classroom at FGCU. Our mission field is the dorm or apartment we call home. Our mission field is where we work and encounter people from all walks of life. Our mission field will be wherever God leads us after graduation. Put simply, the mission field God has sent us to is wherever we live, work and play.

I don’t know what God has in store for your life. As a soon to be graduate, I wish I knew what He had in store for mine. But I do know that today, where He’s placed me, His purpose for me is to bring glory to His name with my words and actions. I trust that if I live in obedience and surrender to Him, He will lead me. He will guide me to and through the things He has in store for me this side of Heaven. I trust that as I continue to walk hand in hand my Creator, He will empower me to faithfully accomplish His mission in the mission field He has given me today. And I trust that He who has started a good work in me will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6). 

How are you living on mission today?


Grace in the Desert

I have wandered in the desert… And it wasn’t merely a stroll. It was a long, hearty trail. And it took a few years.

My desert began when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, which was quickly followed by a break up with my high school sweetheart who I had dated for 5.5 years, and then topped-off by turmoil within my immediate family. There were times when I felt like I was living a nightmare… one from which I could not awaken. There were times I felt like I was drowning in my grief and tears. There were times when I simply wanted to give up. More than anything: I was needy, vulnerable and desperate in the desert.

But Jesus Christ found me there. He lifted my weary head, saved my life, and restored my soul. In hindsight, I know that I would not have seen all of this grace if it weren’t for that desert.

Still, I pleaded with Him every day to lead me out of the desert. He didn’t oblige. He simply said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

So I grew accustomed to the desert. I “stretched out my tent” and I “lengthened my cords and strengthened my stakes” (Isaiah 54:2) because the Lord promised me that He would dwell with me and that He would never leave me or forsake me, even in the desert.

And now I’m so grateful for the desert, because I had nowhere else to turn but to the Lord, the God of all grace. It was in that dry and weary land that I was able to recognize just how real He is—which is the greatest gift of all.

So, my friend, if you’re in the desert during this season, I think God would want you to know that despite what it feels like, you’re not alone. He is there with you. Call upon His name, open His Word, and invite Him into your hurting heart. If you do that, you will also behold sweet things that are only found within your desert.

- Ashley 

This article was originally written and published in the online women's magazine, The Grit and Grace Project. If you like this, read similar content by visiting

Austin's Grace Story

Even though I had been raised in a very Christian home, I was living a lukewarm life with absolutely no desire to pursue the kingdom of God and no discipline to fight against the sin that the world had to offer. I had built my identity in my athletic achievements through tennis and arrogantly claimed these achievements as my own. While struggling with this identity crisis, I was also engaging in an extreme party lifestyle and not surrounding myself with the right people. In the midst of my sin, I occasionally attended church or read my Bible simply to “check it off the list.” 

But God intervened in a huge way, choosing to do so in the midst of a very unfortunate situation. I tore my shoulder labrum in the first week of the fall tennis season at FGCU. Instead of competing in my sophomore year, I ended up having surgery. This injury completely took me away from the sport of tennis for quite some time. While I was away, God wrecked me of my identity crisis and showed me my need for Him. He showed me that I was pursuing a lukewarm/cold life with no real freedom in the grace that He freely offers and was not living on mission for him

God worked in my life through the rest of that fall semester in 2015 to bring on massive internal change. But He didn’t stop there! Moving into the spring and summer semesters, He continued to transform my heart by teaching me that I must live on mission by displaying my internal change to those I come into contact with each day. To name a few changes, He has grown my patience, given me more self-control over my tongue, and changed the desires of my heart to no longer want to live a party lifestyle. Apart from Jesus, everything else leaves me empty.

Revelation 3:15-16: “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

Ephesians 2:4-5: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved...”

Erica's Grace Story
Erica 2.jpg

I was born and raised on the east coast in Fort Pierce, FL. I was a cradle Catholic, baptized before I was even a month old, and I attended Catholic school from kindergarten to twelfth grade. My mother was the choir teacher at my school, and the choir director at my church, so I was immersed in the Catholic religion. I started singing in church on Sunday once I hit second grade. My faith journey was fairly solid up until eighth grade when I had enough God and just decided to walk away from it all. That was the first time I had abandoned Him. A year later I found myself as the youth representative for my church on the Diocesan Youth Council. I served all four years of high school, and then a year after as a mentor. Throughout high school I let God rule my life. I sang at church on Sunday, taught Bible School to the 3 and 4 year olds, and was extremely active in my youth group. I was a walking image of what it meant to be Catholic, but in the back of my mind I had looming questions. I didn’t understand a lot of the rules that came with the Catholic religion. I had the mentality that if someone could show it to me in the Bible, I wouldn’t question it, but every time I asked, I never got answers.

I graduated high school in 2007 and moved on to community college. Since I could no longer be a member of my youth group, I had become part of our adult core team. We were in charge of planning youth group activities on the weekends and chaperoning trips, with the occasional teaching. Everything was fine for me until it came to be my weekend to teach. I never really opened my Bible unless it was my weekend to teach, and at that, it didn’t stay open for very long. I was ok with the scripture itself, but would struggle with the plan that we taught from. How could I be teaching these things if I didn’t believe them or live by them myself? I had been in a relationship since my senior year of high school, and I was living in sin. I realized again that I had slowly been pulling away from God for a few years, and then I abandoned Him a second time.

I ended a seven-year relationship and went off the deep end. I would work back-to-back shifts in the operating room and emergency room, go out every night with friends (not coming home a lot), and then sit in church on Sunday morning. As soon as church was over, I’d fall right back into sin. I needed to get out. It had been almost five years since I graduated with my associate’s degree, and it seemed like the perfect time to go back to school. I left my job and found myself at FGCU in January 2015. I didn’t plan on staying long, but little did I know, God had other plans for me. Instead of transferring to UF that summer like I had planed, I found myself sitting at Ignite. A friend had invited me a few times and I finally gave in. As I listened to Adam preach, I realized that I was getting answers to things I had questioned for so many years. I went up and talked to him afterwards, and that’s where my journey began.

The Fall 2015 semester had begun and my friends invited me to Fall Retreat. I didn’t really want to go, but I signed up anyways. The first night there I was a bit disconnected. It was my high school’s homecoming game that night, and high school football is a big deal in my hometown. As Adam preached, I sat on the far side of the room watching our homecoming game on my phone, not really listening to what was being preached, but I nodded my head every once in a while so it looked like I was participating. Saturday rolled around and I kind of felt empty, so I stuck to myself for most of our free time throughout the day. The Gators had a big game that Saturday, so I was holed up in my hotel room watching the game while everyone else was out at the beach. I was still a bit lost going into Saturday night’s session, but that was all about to change.

Adam started reading a poem called The Dash and I could feel the tears rolling down my face. The same poem was read a few years earlier at the funeral of a teenager that was in my youth group. All of these emotions were rushing through me. I knew in that moment that I was supposed to be there. This was God’s wake up call to me. The next morning I sat with Adam at breakfast and told him my journey. I had been on a religious roller coaster for so many years, abandoning God twice. I had a choice to make – keep riding the ride, or get off and never look back. I was turned to Ephesians 6. I read it over and over again until one day it just clicked. I finally got off the ride.

I was a broken sinner. Despite my past and my sins, I came to see that I was worth it. Here was the Son of God, a man that came to earth to be nailed to a cross and shed His blood so that my sins could be washed away. I didn’t do anything to deserve that kind of love. I couldn’t do anything to deserve that kind of love. So here I was, crying out to God, asking Him to pour out His grace and mercy on a wretched sinner, and He did.

My life reflects who I am in Christ, and He has truly blessed me over the past year. I am part of the worship team and Ignite Staff, I lead my own small group, and a few weeks ago I declared my life to Jesus and was baptized. I have found the most amazing group of friends along this journey, and so many people have invited me into their lives. There have been struggles and hard times, but that is to be expected. I know that I am a child of God. I know that my sins have been washed clean. I strive to life for Christ every day, and I thank Him for the life He gave so I could live. I know He’s not done with me yet, and I can’t wait to see what my future holds.