“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.” These words from the Gospel of Matthew’s Parable of the Talents aptly describe the diligent work of Nathan Bliss during his six-year tenure as Syracuse University’s Campus. And now, in September, Bliss will be “in charge of many things” as he assumes a regional position as Regional Director of Ministry Advancement.
Bliss certainly accomplished more than just “a few things” during his years on campus. Having completed his undergraduate in Religious Studies at SU, he immediately felt at ease with the student body and formed a campus FCA Bible study “huddle” which doubled during his first semester on campus. Now, FCA has 25 student or staff led weekly campus events, which Bliss credits to the efforts of many students, coaches and staff who have stepped up to lead and be part of the ripple effect that FCA can have.
To foster leadership development on campus, Bliss spearheaded a mentoring initiative that involved SU students hosting students from CNY high schools LaFayette and Henninger during the Wednesday evening all-campus huddle, with a long term goal of handing off more and more to students who can take on a mantle of leadership on campus.
In addition to overseeing the more than two dozen ministry groups and studies Bliss has also served as Chaplain to both the Women’s and Men’s Basketball teams, leading pre-game chapels and team and coaches’ Bible studies.
“Team Chaplaincy is among the most in-depth ministries we offer because it allows FCA to become fully immersed in the culture of the program. It is so much more than leading the daily studies, one-on-one meetings with players and coaches, or giving inspirational pregame chapel messages. It’s about building relationships whenever the opportunity arises, and sharing life with coaches and athletes in a way that shows them, and the world, the love of Jesus,” Bliss said.
Mike Hopkins, who served as the Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach during Bliss’ chaplaincy developed a strong relationship with Bliss during those years. “Nathan is the real deal and it is his authenticity that was responsible for the influence he had on the team, the other coaches and me during those years. He is an educator and a leader, but he never threw any of this stuff at us, instead he simply showed us how he lived.
“Some leaders might be perceived great leaders because of what they say, but then you have the great leaders who truly walk the walk. Nate preaches the Word, but he also lives it every day. He invested a lot of time with me and the team, and his consistent involvement has changed people’s lives,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins equates Bliss’ relationship with the players as similar to how he recruits. “Nate created familiarity with our team, just by being present. It is what I tried to do in terms of recruiting – building that trust and relationship — which can only be built over time. And, as the trust is built, the relationship becomes stronger and the players come to understand Nate’s mission.”
David Parks, Upstate NY Director, is confident that Bliss will continue to put his “recruiting” skills to excellent use as he assumes a regional position with FCA in September as Regional Director of Ministry Advancement.
“While at SU, Nathan had a desire to make the university a tangible example of Christ’s challenge to his followers to be as “a city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14), and it is our hope that the solid FCA foundation Bliss has fostered there the past six years will continue to be a vehicle for lasting change for years to come on SU’s campus. In Nathan’s new role, he will help advance the ministry through focused support to the Regional VP by leading and training key strategies and processes built around ministry to and through coaches,” Parks said.
A search is underway for SU’s Campus Director with the goal of securing this person by September 1, 2017. Bliss will remain in the role of SU’s Campus Director until the new Director has been hired and the transition has been completed. For additional information on the position, please contact David Parks at firstname.lastname@example.org or to apply, click here.
Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ – to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
More information can be found at FCA.org.