Someone said, “If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together.” Nobody is saying this will be easy. Partnership can be even messier than working with Freshmen, but we don’t really have a choice. Here’s a few reasons why…
- Cause Jesus Said So: In His only prayer for us, Jesus said the world would be convinced when ALL believers are ONE (John 17:20-23). We’re not supposed to do this alone.
- It’s the Mission of Cru: Through much prayer and transformation, the leadership of our ministry have put everything on the line to try to reshape our ministry in such a way that Each Student on Every Campus has a chance to experience the gospel. Doubling or tripling our staff won’t do it. We must partner in order to get there.
- It’s Best for our Students: Cru isn’t the Church or even a church. We don’t have generations or discipline and we won’t be with them throughout their whole life. The local church is the primary engine of the Bride of Christ. Oh also, when a local church or church member adopts a student they can be…
- discipled closely
- scholarshipped consistently
- empowered both on campus and after graduation
- It’s Best for Churches: Cru needs local churches, but they need us too. In some towns, Cru has a bad reputation for being an isolated community where all the young people go. Without the passion and vibrant faith that students bring to the body, even churches that thrive in most areas limp along with a huge gap between high school and parenthood. But churches don’t just need students, they need Cru. Be bring to the table…
- evangelism and a bridge to a major mission field in their back yard
- discipleship that is sorely needed for every believer
- training & resources (that God has given Cru for over 70 years through thousands of full time missionary innovators) aren’t meant to keep it to themselves
- It’s Best for Us: We Cru staff members hold ourselves to a pretty ridiculous standard. I’ve heard it said that we compare ourselves to a “phantom staff member” against whom we can never match up. Some give up and just slide by, but most of us work ourselves harder and harder (hurting our family and our financial support) until we become ineffective or inert. Even if we do pace ourselves well, without partnership we are taking the massive talent and opportunity God has given us and not investing it for maximum potential. Bill Bright said he’d rather teach someone to be filled with the Spirit than to share the gospel with them because someone walking in the Spirit can lead many to Christ. I would take that farther to say it is better to teach people to teach people these things than to only do it ourselves.
- financial support
- prayer support
- mature manpower
- a hand-off at both bookends (before and after college)
How our Partnership Posture Should Look
- Cru staff member coaches local stakeholders
- Those leaders coach student leaders
- Student leaders run the movement
- All follow the Holy Spirit
A Good Partner
- Seeks to grow GOD’S Kingdom not their OWN: other than Biblical beliefs, this is probably the most key. You can tell a lot about how well a church is following our mutual Lord by their attitude toward working with others and making brand loyalty subject to kingdom loyalty.
- Majors on the GOSPEL, NOT persuasion beliefs: Cru has a unique opportunity to act as a bridge between churches and denominations. While a Baptist church might be hesitant to encourage their students to attend Chi Alpha or a Presbyterian to Baptist Student Ministries, we can be a common ground for all evangelical churches to send students and also to participate in their growth without them feeling like they are giving their students away to another church. On the other hand, it also means we don’t take a stand on some important issues that just aren’t salvation specific (such as end times, predestination and gifts of the Spirit). While on campus, are they willing to encourage students to explore those topics in the context of a local church rather than during Cru meetings?
- Wants STUDENTS to lead ON CAMPUS: No one can reach a college student like a classmate, roommate or teammate. Christian college students have a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with the world’s future leaders in daily, life-on-life situations. We want our students to be active members of their local congregation, however we also want that church to have a posture of commissioning and even getting behind these students’ missionary efforts on campus. While churches may not come into the conversation with this perspective, a Kingdom-centered pastor or church leader will quickly pick up on this idea, or they may already say things like, “we want to help the students thrive wherever they may attend church.” That’s a beautiful thing to hear, and living that out will set these students up to be powerful contributing leaders in the church for the rest of their lives!
- Is seen as a TEAM player by OTHER churches/orgs: This may sound similar to that first point, and there is overlap, but this has more to do with recognizing that Cru is not looking to partner with just a single congregation on the campus (check out what this pastor says about why he wants other churches promoted at Cru meetings).
Barriers to Partnership
- Trust: “I don’t know if I want THEM working with MY students.
- “This is a valid feeling. We do have a responsibility not to endorse people to pour in to the lives of students who could hurt them. On the other hand, students are going to be influenced by people whether we know it or not, they’re old enough to figure stuff out and… they’re not OURS :). Here’s a VERY important lesson on an abundance mindset, even more important for us believers in light of God’s economy.
- Alignment: “I don’t know if they want what I want or will do it MY way.”
- Of course we want to be careful that both parties are trying to head in the same direction (more on that under “Partnership Launching“). Honestly, though, if we’re both allowing God to be Lord of our lives, then the Holy Spirit will point us in the direction we need to be to play our part. Cru does NOT hold the corner market on God’s will or His work in the world, so we need to be careful to pick and choose which few hills we’re really willing to die on (or kill a relationship on).
- Attention: “I’m too busy with what I already have going. I don’t have time to pursue more relationships.”
- Relationships DO take time, and there is certainly a learning curve for those who aren’t used to Win, Build and Send ministries (let alone campus-specific ones), but the idea of not having enough time to train and delegate is a myth, because the opposite is true. The ONLY way to get more done is to give it to more people (here’s some solid wisdom about delegating and training). The Bride of Christ is the engine God chose to impact the world, not FT missionaries, and once you activate these local stakeholders they can exponentially grow the scope and depth of your reach for the Kingdom. It may seem messy and slow on the front end, but it is our only way to reach EVERY.
- Passion: “I want to work with students, not have OTHERS do it.”
- When a student leader joins staff, it is often a shock how different a staff’s day-to-day life is from what they pictured. They probably thought they would just continue to act like a student leader only full time, when in reality we are supposed to take a step off the field and coach the next generation of students to run the ball. In the same way, a fully functional partnership model may have us consulting churches to coach students to run the ball, which may seem even further from what we like to do or even feel gifted to do. But, working through churches does not need to pull us away from students completely. It is best for us and for our partners that we stay sharp and model win, build and send directly to some extent (even if it is reduced). Ultimately, though, this is not about what we want. We are serving a greater mission than ourselves, and if we’re to be the most effective for the Kingdom we need to take what we’ve been given and invest it in others.