Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What if...

  • We, in Christian Unions, started to think of everything we do as missional?
(We do already think this way - but for all the positive signs and good outworkings of this I'm convinced that there is a need to go up a gear - Mark Driscoll gave this critique to Newfrontiers, and whilst in some ways I do think UCCF as a mission agency is ahead of Newfrontiers being intentially missional and engaging with culture there is no room for complacency and plenty of room for progress)
  • We abolished 'CU Evangelism Secretary' because the CU President is responsible for evangelism...
  • Everything we did was tailored towards intentionally driving us to mission?
  • Mission was the focus of our prayer?
  • Each week we could share the story of how people became Christians?
  • We understood that having the Bible taught was about transforming and equipping us for mission as lovers of Jesus?
  • We engaged with the false gospels preached on our campuses, of acceptance, shame, ambition, salvation by graduate job, security, money,...
  • We engaged with the fears and hopes that people have - which the gospel has better answers for...
  • We did mission weeks based on evangelistic preaching series on Job, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Song of Songs - done right, publicised right...

11 comments:

  1. i think the knock on for the church would be enormous. an empowering rethink.

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  2. Seems to me mostly just a case of putting into practice what we have on paper... and not being afraid to rework some of the old systems... which is how we can stay being a movement on track with our vision and not drift into institutionalism.

    I seem to remember Nigel Pollock saying once that Evangelism Sec was a late 80s invention in most places anyway... methodology has to be up for grabs so long as the vision stays true.

    Cya at Orientation... I'm on the Evangelism Session (hmmm... shouldn't the whole week be about that... hmmm). We need to think on this stuff more and then get doing it!

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  3. YES

    how is it possible no one has said this before?!

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  4. We didn't realise till we got to UCCF leaders training that we were a mission team. It took us until the next leaders training a year later to actually do something about it.

    The big 'debate' was always what was the main purpose of the main CU meeting? Was it to encourage and equip Christians, or was it a place that we could bring non-Christians to on any week? Was it possible to combine these two aims??

    Generally it wasn't... it was felt that if it was the former we needed all the trimmings; singing, praying, notices, talk... if the latter we just wanted the talk, nothing else.

    Evangelism/Mission was something that some people were doing full-time, others had long since retreated to the Christian-ghetto. It still needed an events based structure (an evangelistic program if you will) to focus people's attentions, their prayers and to really get people to understand that CU is a mission team.

    Should have done a masters, could have stayed around for more campus mission!
    More thoughts please Dave... How will this affect UCCF in how they equip and train CUs??

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  5. Nicola - they have, i have... but not everyone listens... and I think this missional-mindset is so far removed from our default thinking that it takes time to work it out. Change happens one-degree at a time... but anyone who has faith for it I want working with me. Wanna job when you've done that Masters?

    Hugh - Events are still helpful as are structures and systems. And there is always going to be a need to pull everyone together, to share vision and develop collatoration in mission... particularly since there is something of a fresh start every year. The key is that this stuff all has to be seen as FOR mission - we pray for that, we train for that... I suspect CU meetings could get away with being Training (talk), Testimony and Prayer.

    Recently a charismatic leader told me the same - to which the instinctive response has often been 'if we do that the charismatics drop out' - which is possibly true. But, if everyone backs the approach then we can get there. That said - Christians sing, they just do. The danger is that the CU as a Mission Team puts a lot of energy into things like music and maintainence.

    For UCCF staff I think it has to mean much more evangelism and less maintainence of things.

    This is what is happening but we have to keep going up a gear, term on term, year on year.

    Whilst still respecting and honouring student-leadership that takes some winsome-boldness and courage, leading by example and building of strong missional-gospel convictions... which should release a torrent of student-led creativity and momentum in mission. That's my dream.

    And then we get more towards what I'm believing for - every Christian student seeing one friend become a Christian while they're at University. In a CU of 90 that means one per week on average... imagine the CU meeting where every week there is the testimony of a new Christian to be shared. Then you're moving.

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  6. That's all the aim, and certainly I've recently seen that I must do more evangelism with my CUs and less maintenance, but we can't just say, "Why aren't we like this yet?" and imply that we're failing. The majority of the Christian freshers I see come to uni don't get the gospel very well, with a background of a youthclub where having a cool time as a Christian was the aim. There are some wonderful exceptions, but that's the majority. To get those people to transition into the vision of mission is a huge shift, and one that requires a lot of work, especially since we're not the leaders, nor are we their pastor-teachers. But new leaders training w/es are having this effect in the Midlands at least. A lot of your 'what ifs' are already happening in CUs: you give the impression they're not - hence Nicola's initial response.

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  7. Rosemary - that is the challenge isn't it - change to even having clarity on the gospel takes many students quite a long time...

    Agreed that many of the what if's are already happening in the SW too - which is great! - but I guess it was an invitation to dream and imagine and press on. Critique wasn't really the intention :)

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  8. I agree, but seeing everything as missional is a tricky balancing act. I think there's a danger that "CUs should be all about mission" (which I agree with) can end up as "CUs should be all about flyering/lunchbars/evangelistic events". That is, mission becomes a set of events separate from our everyday lives rather than mission being a way of life that informs everything we do. Evangelistic events are useful as part of a life of mission, of course, but aren't a substitute for it.

    One of my hobby-horses is that I think CUs should do more to help students to think Christianly. There's a danger of neglecting this kind of thing because of an evangelism-only mentality. Of course, training people in thinking Christianly can turn into just an exercise in maintaining a Christian subculture, and that's the other danger. The right balance is train people to think Christianly so that they can be more missional in their courses, in their engagement with student life, in their friendships and so on.

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  9. Caleb, agreed - without an all of life approach to Christianity being missional isn't going to work. Hence, speaking for Jesus and living for Jesus.

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  10. Oh my days! This is awesome!

    OK, sorry, calming breath... but seriously Anna and I (ex-Leeds Relayers) talked about this stuff so much last year so it's great to see that so many others are wanting the same thing. It got to the point where we were trying to fit in a freshers' week planning meeting separate from our weekly meetings and we just realised it was actually ridiculous that we had to arrange another meeting to plan for doing mission - the CU meetings should be about that.

    I think the practical stuff you suggested, Bish, like re-arranging committees is what needs to happen - Leeds has a 10-person strong committee, including an evang sec and a 'weekly meeting cooordinator' and I'm seriously questioning why we need those roles on a committee for a group that should be all about mission. I think the problem is that, with CUs being student-led is, it is tricky to implement changes in the structure of committee, etc.

    But maybe this is the time for more doing and less musing - some folk will undoubtedly be unhappy with that but that's unavoidable and I think as long as people know why things are changing then the reasonable ones will accept the fact that there will only be singing once a month at CU meetings and once the world fails to fall apart the others will, God-willing, be convinced.

    Generally I think this is a really important issue - worthy of a Forum seminar maybe? Don't tell me it's too late to change things!

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  11. Levi,

    I'm working on some provisional documents to suggest ways of changing things in the SW... with some suggested ways to
    a) restructure a committee
    b) restructure the way a committee is trained, operates and meets.

    I think the way to do it is to lead with the vision. Which in the South West means above all this:

    72014 people.
    or rather

    800 Christian students
    13 Staff/relay
    71200 non-Christians
    1 Jesus

    I find the numbers rather focus the heart. What we do is not for the 800 and definitely not the 13 but must be for the 71201.

    source of figures here:
    Student numbers 2006-07

    My initial thinking on this will be what I say at the SW Regional Forum on the first night of the conference... I don't know if it's explicitly in the programme but I want to encourage every session attended and every conversation between students, staff, relay etc to be around this question.

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