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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
Bob Goff

Bob Goff speaks in chapel

Emphasizes need to 'be the church'

Saudi Arabian palaces and sea otters were just a couple of things mentioned in Taylor University’s chapel message on Friday, given by the New York Times best-selling author Bob Goff.

Goff delivered an encouraging message to the multigenerational audience about what it looks like to live life to the full through loving God and one another.

The special chapel service was a feature of Grandparents Day, where the university welcomed students’ grandparents onto campus, and also TUGather, which is a campus-wide experience packed with events for all to enjoy. Five hundred grandparents and 1500 additional guests were present on campus, according to the university’s announcements.

To accommodate the large number of guests, Friday’s chapel was held in Odle Arena, rather than in Rediger Chapel where it is typically hosted. 

Students, grandparents, professors and alumni filed into the arena, filling the bleachers and rows of fold-out chairs on the floor. 

Before Goff gave his message, the crowd heard from several prominent people including President Michael Lindsay; Skip Trudeau, vice president for student development and intercollegiate athletics; Greg Dyson, vice president for spiritual life & intercultural leadership and campus pastor; Elisabeth Nieshalla, student body president; and Enoch Eicher, student body vice president. 

After the various speakers, the chapel service reached its climax when Goff approached the stage. With a big smile, waving arms and a contagious laugh, he dived right into the message.

Goff taught the audience the sign language word for “church.” He told the audience that they are the church, and he began to tell stories that illustrate how Taylor’s mission of living life to the full fits into their identity as the church.

“You got to get adjacent to the things you want,” Goff said. “This idea of living life to the full means staying adjacent to Jesus.”

Goff enthused over his wife Maria and said they have three kids, one daughter and two sons. 

He said when his kids were younger, he would hold up a mirror to their faces and build each of them up with positive words.

“I hold it up to my daughter Lindsay and say, ‘Girl, you look right there. You’re a woman of virtue. You look right there. I see a woman who loves God, who’s fearless about her faith, who loves her family,’” Goff said.

He said if Taylor wants to live life to the fullest, it must hold up a mirror to others, taking a genuine interest in their lives. It also must flip the mirror around, recognizing its identity as God’s creation.

Goff recalled the time he was invited to a palace in Saudi Arabia. He showed the audience a picture of the latte he was served while at the palace. The Arab leader who hosted him poured a tablespoon of 14k gold on the top of it. 

“There’s something beautiful about giving a tablespoon of your very best,” Goff said. “Because from this place is going to launch so much joy. We’re going to hold up a mirror to the world and say, ‘This is what it looks like to be fully alive, to be full to the brim with faith.’”

He concluded his chapel speech by talking about a lodge in an inlet of Canada where he and his family would stay for several months out of the year. 

In Canada, there are sea otters, he said, and when otters sleep, they hold hands so none of them drift away. Goff said the church is called to this kind of love for one another.

Goff urged the audience to take the hand of the person sitting next to them.

“Guys, we are the church,” Goff said. “We have power to just understand more about ourselves, to take a genuine interest in the people around us, and if you want to live a life to the full, just continue to do that.”

The Rev. Dyson said Taylor’s advancement team was a big help in making Goff’s appearance on campus possible. 

Brad Yordy, executive director of alumni and parent relations, and other administrators had long been working behind the scenes to prepare for Friday’s events and special guests.

“We’ve been thinking about [Friday] for years, but I would say actively planning for eight months,” Yordy said. “We said, ‘Okay, this is when it’s going to be. What do we want the day to look like?’ And so that’s when we started talking about, ‘Okay, could we get someone like Bob to come?’”

Yordy said they weren’t sure if Goff was still doing speaking engagements, but they contacted his organization just to be sure. They emailed back saying Goff would be happy to visit Taylor.

Guests were equally happy about him coming.

Visiting grandparent Thomas Shine said Goff was very funny and enjoyed hearing about his experiences. He thought it was special how Goff’s message resonated with both the grandparents and the students.

Dyson said figures like Goff are a draw for Taylor because of the way they inspire others and the way they love Christ.

“As we think about how we are going to be servant-leaders to a world in need, I just think it’s beautiful that we’re looking for people that are going to inspire, people who have proven themselves to be servant-leaders in other settings,” Dyson said.