Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Change the World Tomorrow (CCC Blogference Post #2)

What must “reach the campus today” mean in order to arrive at the desired outcome of a changed world tomorrow?

This question has taken root deep in my soul over the past few years as I’ve helped lead an effort to transform a city of 28 million people. I have mulled over the question daily of what needs to happen in order to see Mexico City transformed by the power of the Gospel.

1. Depth of the Disciples

The key lies not in the pride of a plan, but in the depth of the disciples. Over the years, Campus Crusade has done an outstanding job developing young men and women that love the Lord and express that love through personal Bible study, prayer, fellowship and evangelism. Although those disciplines continue post-college, few students know how to effectively minister to their communities. Over time, those who so faithfully ministered to their college peers have their passion consumed by the frustration of “It’s just not like college.”

Of course, we all know nothing will ever be like those glorious days of shared experiences and passionate dreams of changing the world shared by so many on the college campuses of America (a little tongue-in-cheek). But have we (those ministers who help shape the culture of local Campus Crusade movements) traded the dangerous mess of holistic community ministry for the safe confines of pure evangelism on the college campus.

Jesus’ gives this analogy of the kingdom: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” The kingdom doesn’t just encompass evangelism, discipleship and other spiritual disciplines. It touches everything within every sphere of society. (More on this later in the week.)

2. Your Kingdom Come

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” he wasn’t using pie-in-the-sky terminology. He had just rebuked the Gentiles for using meaningless repetition in their prayers. Jesus was actually saying, “Pray that earth will look like heaven, where there is no pain, no weeping, no misery and God is glorified and magnified by all.” And when Jesus asks us to pray for something, I can’t find one instance where He doesn’t also want us to act upon that prayer.

We live in an exciting era. This generation of youth has an understanding of the spirituality of life (although not of God) and they want to involve themselves in serving people in need. In a culture full of negative trends, here are a few good ones we should take note of and capitalize on.

3. Do As I Do

I’m careful as I write this next section. Those who minister on campus use their gifts to bring the power of the Gospel to bear in the lives of thousands of young men and women. Many of them work tirelessly to ensure every student understands how to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Yet, in our tireless work to evangelize the campus, we have cut short the fullness of the Gospel and the kingdom’s pervasive nature. And our students, very naturally, follow the pattern that they’ve seen in our lives.

What would it look like if they saw something a little different in our lives? Without abandoning that which God has specifically called Campus Crusade to do (reaching the campus), can we lift up our eyes to see beyond the edge of campus to the pressing needs of our communities? Can we say, "Do as I do," and be comfortable with the result?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tomorrow is Here (CCC Blogference Post)

In 1951, Dr. Bill Bright set out on a mission, one that would help fuel Christ-centered missions around the globe and usher in a new student volunteer movement. The movement sprouted from humble beginnings on the campus of UCLA but would soon take flight to dozens of countries around the globe.

As Dr. Bright began to share the vision of Campus Crusade for Christ with his fellow believers, he would use a simple yet defining rallying cry: “Reach the campus today; reach the world tomorrow.” That would set the direction for the fledgling movement as Campus Crusade would take the message of Christ to thousands of college campuses in 191 different countries, making it one of the largest evangelical organizations in the world.

A few years into the movement, Dr. Bright would complete a book called, Come Help Change the World. Thousands of students and staff members signed onto the organization with the belief that reaching a generation of college students with the message of Christ would later touch every aspect of society. An army of young, impassioned students would have an effect on societies the world over. The ripple of the Gospel would leave transformed cities and cultures in its wake. After all, history has shown that its greatest movements have sprung from the hearts of its youth. Reach the campus today and change the world tomorrow? You bet!

So after 58 seven years of work in the United States, we should expect to see a vastly different place; a place where crime has trouble finding a dark alley, poverty has nothing to feed on, corruption and greed make everyone angry, children receive the highest education and strongest nurturing and a culture that puts no price tag on the value of instilling biblical values.

Yet somewhere, somehow, we have fallen drastically shy of that mark.

We now live in a country that is experiencing a steady decline in those who call themselves Christians. We can interpret this differently depending upon our perspective, but the wave of current statistics points to an undertow of resentment or indifference toward the local Church. (I find it appropriate to capitalize that last word, as the responsibility to influence the community falls on the Church corporately.)

No doubt that the vision and mission of Dr. Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ have unleashed a movement that can claim hundreds of thousands, even millions of souls for Jesus Christ. The students and staff have taken the light of the Gospel to some of the farthest corners of the globe. Millions have heard the Message. So was something lacking in the original vision? I don’t think so. But somewhere in our zeal to reach the campus today, we let the driving vision of a changed world tomorrow fade into proverbial history.

What must we do to regain that massive vision that so captivated the hundreds of thousands of staff, students and volunteers that joined the ranks of Campus Crusade for Christ five decades ago – that vision that hearkened back to one delivered a few thousand years ago by a Man from a small town called Nazareth?

Dump some thoughts out here. What’s your perspective? How can Campus Crusade/the Church in general embrace the full vision and calling of our Lord to bring the kingdom to earth?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The End of Christian America

Is Christianity in America truly dying? Well, the answer might not be black and white, but you might find some insightful highlights from this Newsweek article on the topic. Here are a few morsels:
  • The proportion of Americans who think religion "can answer all or most of today's problems" is now at a historic low of 48 percent.
  • If we apply an Augustinian test of nationhood to ourselves, we find that liberty, not religion, is what holds us together. In "The City of God," Augustine —converted sinner and bishop of Hippo—said that a nation should be defined as "a multitude of rational beings in common agreement as to the objects of their love." What we value most highly—what we collectively love most—is thus the central test of the social contract. (my emphasis added)
  • How to balance concern for the garden of the church with the moral imperatives to make gentle the life of the world is one of the most perplexing questions facing the church.
A few good things to consider as we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of the one who came to our small planet to change everything.