Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blog-Ference Day 2--Challenging the Status Quo

Thanks everyone for your comments yesterday. If you are just joining this dialogue, my basic premise is this: The cultural and spiritual climate on campuses throughout the country have changed to the degree that our 'old' ways of doing things no longer have the efficacy they once did. Instead of forging new paths by faith, we as an organization have in many ways 'dug in our heels,' and have sought to fight problems by doing more (more money, people, time sent in to do the job). 

My argument is that to truly see new paths forged in the campus ministry, we must begin to dethrone old paradigms and models, empower more staff on the field to lead courageously and boldly, and 'honor' as an organization apostolic characteristics such as faith, courage, freedom, innovation more at every level. 

Yesterday I highlighted the vision that Dr. Bright launched--one where as an organization we led dominantly out of faith, and dominantly towards the future. 

Today, I want to show where I believe we stand presently, and what obstacles we face in reclaiming the apostolic identity that Dr. Bright gave us. 

THIS IS NOT A CALL TO THROW EVERYTHING AWAY; NOR TO SAY THAT WHAT WE ARE DOING RIGHT NOW IS BAD. Instead, it's a call to re-embed into the center of our roles the very things that caused us as an organization to grow. 

I wanted to start by posting bits from each of the comments from yesterday to lead into today's content.

Our EV seems to be, present- self. Campus Ministry tends towards doing what we've always done. We change the outward face of it.—Alisha

Should we cling to their model of initiative and faith?Dave Goffeney

I guess I mean to say that sometimes making decision in the known rather than unknown can be good. One might call it wisdom. But what I think you're working against here is comfort, not wisdom.Aaron

I don't know how to make that shift again. Is it all Holy Spirit? Don't think so, but it seems the National Team is really trying to get some of this back with the Way Forward.—DJ

But ultimately what it comes down to in my head is.... is this structural change ultimately going to effect heart change by removing something like the weekly meeting? Or will the structural change just be structural--Jen Ip

Leading in light of the future requires a sacrifice of the present ordering of things: we have a finite amount of resources (staff, student leaders, time, energy, money), and simply cannot maintain the present at 100% capacity and still lead in light of the future. A huge part of our job as staff is to wisely sacrifice parts of the present in light of the future. Near-sighted leadership is a silent killer of many movements (sounds a little Confucian, but it's true).

Here is the leadership base that I believe we as an organization are leading out of IN PRACTICE. You'll notice that the circle is placed over Self, the Present, and the Known. I would say as an organization we lead more out of our self than out of faith, more out of the present than the future, and more out of the known than the unknown. Like Aaron and Dave brought up, there is tons of wisdom in doing what is known. We have an obligation to steward our resources as best as possible, and that often means not re-inventing the wheel every week. 

The problem does not lie in repeating models, processes, and structures in my estimation. The biggest problem I see is that the success of past models, processes, and structures have pierced our organizational conscience to the point where we believe THEY are what causes growth and transformation. As a result, we have shied away from being staff who truly lead dominantly out of faith and the future, since we have co-opted ourselves to protect the status quo that was so successful and prominent. 

I believe we are stuck with this circle for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons why as I have observed:

*Flesh-driven performance: A desire to replicate past models, regardless of effectiveness, to please those in power above us. How many summer projects have you been on that don’t use Ocean City’s model? From those projects, how many of those places actually have the same environment and context that would warrant duplicating the model?

*An embedded culture that primarily honors ministry ‘success.’ How many times have you seen or heard about a ministry that is living out of faith but ‘failing’ miserably? Particularly from the National sphere of our organization (emails from National leaders, Connection magazine that we get each month, CSU, etc). We can look right to Chili’s Story challenge to see the dominant culture of success. I’ve yet to see someone win for saying, "Our movement has stepped out in faith like never before yet we have not seen any fruit to date."

*Emphasis on skill/role based development rather than capacity/character based development: Mark McCloskey has written extensively on this issue. Basically the idea is that we still consider development as primarily acquiring skills rather growing our capacity to love and lead students from the core of our being. Look at our 'development' binder that we give. I would guess it's 80% skill based. 

*Organizational culture that does not aggressively seek or facilitate learning opportunities outside of CCC. Nearly every resource we have is developed from within. The advantage of this is obviously alignment: I get that. However, whenever staff seek learning opportunities outside of CCC, it’s always on their own time and their own dime (that’s the last time I will rhyme. It just worked). Because of that, it’s hard for us to grow in our intellectual flexibility. It was almost 4 years on staff before I attended a spiritual conference other than a CCC one. Although the conference was okay, the experience of being around different-minded ministry leaders was beneficial beyond what could even be quantified. Yet I paid out of my own pocket and it was on top of the already 5 or 6 CCC conferences I had been to that year.

Again, let me reiterate that this is not an indictment solely on our National Leadership. At every level, and in every role, we are accountable to leading in this manner. 

Why I'm so excited about this blogference is that it gives a platform outside of the traditional ones to actually discuss these issues in a way that will cause transformation at various levels. These obstacles can be overcome; tomorrow I will delve into practical and transformational ways to reverse this trend. 

Okay I would really love your feedback on this one. Do you lead out of Self, Present, and Known more than Faith, Future, and the Unknown? Why? What keeps you from sacrificing parts of the present in light of the future? 


Ken said...

Well I think there are many challenges. For example I have poison oak again, that is a sucky challenge. But it is allowing me time to blogference so hey make lemonade.

On to the topic. I have been on a total of 3 stateside projects and all 3 have been pretty different actually (one was Ocean City), but that is neither here nor there, the heart is taking things and wanting to duplicate them.

I remember when we saw amazing growth at Cal Poly SLO and everyone kept asking me what we did. The funny thing is that I was just operating out of a faith future orientation. I almost could not answer the question, I was often confused by it, and I also sometimes resented it as not getting our God and wanting to place credit in something not worthy. As I moved around to other campuses though I realized that those questions (that don't come anymore BTW) were pretty open ended and I actually had more to share than I realized.

At SLO we grew so quickly that we never did ministry the same year after year. You cannot do a retreat of 20 the same way you do a retreat for 300 for example. I think leading with a future orientation it was easy to plan for a movement of 600 when we were still 150 but not to such a degree that we did not lead the present into the future.

Back to the missed opportunity when those questions of "what did you do?" came. I think that as much as many things change, the core principles stay the same. For example, the principle of Spiritual Multiplication is foundational to reaching the World and reaching whatever, and was Jesus' plan that He set in motion. I thought this was common sense until I started going to other places and saw one of two things (when I saw stagnant or ineffective movements).

1. I saw management (no risk, high control, doing exactly what the book tells you to do, no innovation, no adaptation). This led to misery on many levels, a lack of student ownership, very little faith and excitement, and minimal action. This could even lead to resentment, bitterness and sin.

2. I saw foundationless change. I saw leaders trying to be innovative and make changes, try new things, but get no where due to having no foundation to build on. In other words nothing was constant or sacred (including the principles needed to build anything). I saw this as a constant rebuilding effort where new architectural plans were laid out every year that looked really cool, so the old house that failed was torn down and the new plans erected only to find a year later it was not working and other new plans looked better. The houses could have all worked perhaps, but they all failed because of the lack of foundation. This leads to students and leaders checking out, it leads to a lack of direction and therefor a lack of community and action. It makes people cynical and frustrated.

I think you are right Brian that we are in a state of safety and need to be in one of faith. I am not sure what to do about it totally since I think part of the problem is that our staff have come from movements that are this way. Taking over a movement that was similar took me constant changing and aligning for years to get where we needed to start being. We do not have that sort of influence over our staff, not to mention the older we get we tend to get more stubborn, and we don;t graduate.

I actually had to rehabilitate one of my staff that came from a healthy movement that was future faith orientated, and joined a present, self team. By the time I met back up with him it was a struggle, but eventually he would sit and ponder in frustration about how he used to do ministry they way we were talking about and it was good. He was looking back to what he was doing as a student and wondering what happened. Joining a staff team actually conditioned him away from where we want our staff to be.

This problem stresses me out more than anything, even our view and use of money (which gets me pretty fired up).

I think the good news is that people really do love Jesus and want to see lives changed, and the questions were really a desire to see more lives changed at the core. The missed opportunity was sharing the foundational principles that I had no idea would have been useful to share at the time (I thought they were accepted and practiced by all).

Josh & Adrienne said...

i lead out of the present, self, known because it is much easier and it does not leave me looking foolish. I start out each day with a list of things I need to accomplish in order for my day to be considered a success and although I often don't check everything off I am usually confident that you (Brian) won't be justified in calling me out for not doing my job. In other words, "present, self, known" gets the job done under the current ministry structure. Faith, future, and unknown are three words that can scare the life out of your average staff person. Seriously,I will venture to guess the closest thing most of us do that would qualify for "F,F,U" besides raise our initial support would be to share our faith with random lost students on campus and even with that there are many of us who are barely scraping by. Why?!! I am not sure, but I agree with you on the point that we may be placing our values or success criteria in the wrong place. How sweet would it be if next months Chilis card winner was a dude who took a huge step of faith and failed miserably? What would it take for us as individuals, staff teams, regions, or as a world wide Great Comissioned missions organization to place our highest values on faith-based, leaning towards the unknown decisions and not numbers or time cards. Last point, I love my job because I know I could stop typing right now and go out and apply what I am typing and reading.

Josh & Adrienne said...

That was just Josh by the way.

aubrey said...

I lead out of self, known and present for several reasons. As a mom my time is limited when I am on campus or around students so I do what is easiest for me and what I already know. Also, I think I lack in confidence because I haven't been doing "student ministry" much these days and don't have practice. I don't want to look foolish. My fear of failure showing it's ugly head again. I so often put God in this little box of what I think he can do with my limited time that I have to be on campus and it turns into "Ok God hear we go I have this amount of time, this is what I know I can do so let's just do this. Done." Not a lot of faith there. BTW I think you are awesome.

Wix said...

Dudes, I love these conversations! As I too am more change-agent bent, and I get upset over the status quo that doesn't produce lasting transformations on all fronts. Now, I'm trying to figure out how to channel all that pent up frustration toward some good, and potentially constructive changes, haha.

Brian you make some really great points about where we're at right now. To know how we can change, we have to know our present reality first. I think our organization's tendency to lead out of Self/Known/Present is a really human thing - I mean don't we all tend to respond that way in life? So, recently, I've been taking more time-out looking inward. (So, thanks for the questions you posted!) What keeps me from living and leading out of Faith/Unknown/Future? For me, it's FEAR - fear of losing control, fear of pain and discomfort, fear of loneliness even, b/c the majority of the people won't get it or get you as you live in that space that is different from theirs. So, in short, a lot of fears, haha.

But, I think we need to look to God and the Body, especially the really cool pioneering peoples of the past and present, for encouragement and courage to continually step out.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how the Kingdom of God is inclusive, and totally multicultural, multilingual, intergenerational, and across socio-economic lines. What made more aware of this? It's when I trusted God with mustard-seed faith and bought a hot chocolate for a homeless dude pan-handling on the side of the road. Roger and his dumpster-diving, punk friends taught me a lot about accepting and including different types of people into their community (people like me, who was dressed in my trench coat and semi-casual outfit, on my way to a CCC fundraiser dinner of all things, haha). They didn't know who I was, and didn't judge, but they immediately shared their food with me.

You know, through this experience - that's outside our primarily middle-class CCC culture - God did some serious work in my heart. He also gave me a clearer picture of what the Kingdom is about, how it's inclusive, and multi-everything. So, what does it require for us, the church and organizations like CCC, to build the Kingdom / "Movements Everywhere"? I think one thing is what many of us here are talking about - living in radical faith.

That one experience has changed me. Now, I'm thinking like how can we in campus ministry work towards building the Kingdom (as opposed to building our own ministry)? CCC staff, Layo from El Salvador, talks about how they are undergoing a paradigm shift from "Come, join US and help change the world" to, "Hey, how can we help YOU change your world?" That's a huge shift that would require stepping out in faith and into the unknown. Everyone's gifted differently and have different passions and jazz, so how God would have one group of people change their world will be radically different from another group. Can you imagine that on our campuses and in our communities? It's going to be chaos, you wouldn't know what's going on, you wouldn't have a CCC manual to go to on how to help this group of students serve the LGBT club on campus or that group to partner with the Feminist club at a battered women's shelter. Or how about, going to some place like Myanmer to help rebuild their post-cyclone world. Or even partnering with different ethnic groups (from other countries!) and going together to share and live out the Gospel among an unreached people-group (because Missions is to, from, and with all nations). Man, if stuff like this happened in CCC, it'd be, in the words of Rick Mckinley, a "beautiful mess."

But, yeah, all these recent ideas and convictions have come from my experiences outside of CCC and my normal, everyday "safe" life. And I think to start leading out in faith and into the unknown organizationally begins with each of us personally stepping out of CCC culture, and the other cultures and settings we're comfortable in, and interacting with people different from us culturally, socio-economically etc., and even being part of those Other communities.

What are some of your guys' thoughts on this?

Beav said...

I've enjoyed this discussion. It made me think of a conversation I had recently with someone outside of our ministry who is a cross-cultural ministry expert and who holds the keys to tons of resources and opportunities that could help train staff to become effective in many of the places that CCC is not known to be effective.

He was telling me that he's been seeking to build a partnership with our ministry at large, but has run into the mentality of "thanks, but no thanks - we have our own thing and we're pretty content with it." While there are times that it pays to stay "in-house," I'm thinking cross-cultural training probably doesn't fit that criteria given our organizational struggles. It made me sad that forging partnerships with such strategic people is so difficult for us sometimes. Even more sad is that this potential partner knows the reputation of our ministry internationally perhaps better than we do ourselves and he clearly sees a need for change and adaptation.

When we try to hold on so tight to our "distinctives" (even though they are anchored in many ways in the faith/future) we can actually end up hindering ourselves from leading out of that quadrant because of the level of control we want to exert on the "hows"of getting to the future. There may be a lot of future and a lot of faith, but maybe not a lot of kingdom when this is the case.

Wix said...

Beav, it's totally true about the reputation CCC has. I talked to a YWAM dude a couple weeks of ago, and he talked about that too, how in his interactions with CCC staff he's come to see us as gate-keepers of tradition and all that jazz, and not opened to innovation and partnerships with other organizations, etc. But, but, but, he also said that he feels it's changing now, as he's finding more openness among our staff. So, let's keep at it man! Let's start with each of us getting to know the rest of the body, and different communities in our world, or whatever God has us do, change, repent of etc. I feel we're getting to the tipping point...

Chris Gadsden said...

I think "flesh-driven performance" is a significant problem in CCC. It is our Achilles Heel. In lieu of comments, I'll paste a link to a related post on my blog: http://nihilfit.blogspot.com/2006/01/great-submission.html
My blog isn't just about ministry -- it's quite a hodge podge.

Alisha J said...

I agree with most of what has been commented so I'll just add a few things.

It makes sense that our tendency as Christians is towards self/present because of our flesh. It's a fight to keep ourselves focused on and pursuing future/faith risky ministry.

You talked about a ministry that honors ministry success. One thing that has been hard for me lately is the success criteria - or lack of a specific success criteria. I wish we had one for engaging in spiritual conversations. Most of our students will say they had spiritual conversations but don't always get through or to the gospel. They may answer questions or initiate a discussion that is a step of faith for them. At times it seems that is not enough in our organization.

As far as learning opportunities out side of CCC. You are speaking to a hot button issue that I have. Several times a year I feel I can't do my job because of our intense travel schedule and conference on top of conference. DJ and I try to do a development non Cru. conference every year but trying to fit it in and afford it has been challenging. There's freedom to do it but I wish it was easier and our overall travel schedules were lighter

Aaron Badenhop said...

I agree that we need to value risky faith over easily produced "success stories."

I don't want to read into your comments, but I'm worried that we can over-value "risky faith in the unknown." Innovation is good, but never for the sake of innovation itself. Innovation leading to risky faith should be motivated by a seen or felt need. Risky faith in the unknown should not happen simply because we get "tired" of historically successful strategies.

I'm also concerned when I hear about "rapid reproduction," this sense that risky faith-filled ministry produces more sexy, crazy results. There is much to be said for building a movement that grows slowly enough to sustain itself over time. Maybe sometimes it can require faith to trust in what God has shown to be fruitful ministry philosophy over time, even when fruit is not immediate.

DJ said...

Man, this is intense.

I am for sure a pretty present guy. I really WANT to be future oriented, and I want to have lots of faith. Hmm. I think I more end up doing and praying and hope it goes well and we grow!

But I read Mark Driscoll's stuff (Confessions of a Reformmission Rev, his second book) and it is much like "Amazing Faith" in that they experienced just crazy growth and faith and Jesus moving. But they also talked about architecting each next step of growth (100 to 300 to 1000 to 5000 to now 10,000). As I read it, I went, "Man, I don't have those type of gifts."

Fear of the unknown is for sure a problem for me. But as we have made LOTS of changes this year at the UofA and have killed lots of sacred Crusade cows, I honestly have been spurred on by just confidence in the Lord.

What I mean is that I have grown in Jesus being my significance. Really this has allowed Alisha and I (her growth too) to just go nuts and do what we think Jesus wants us to. So growing in the gospel and the Lord's love has helped us make a lot of changes and charge forward. Also, our RD's have really encouraged and freed us up in my opinion.

Brian said...

Great comments everyone! It seems like this tension between the present and the future felt throughout the various comments.

Hop--I'm all about slow and steady movement building. In fact, my comments and desire to move toward Future/Faith stuff are more about our need to increase our Critical Mass--Leaders, Laborers, and Loot.

Because each of these have become increasingly harder to develop through our 'traditional' methods, I'm saying innovation is needed because we simply are not able to grow our Critical Mass to the point where we are making significant inroads into the campus for Jesus.

I'm not trumpeting the Win/Build/Send rapid reproduction stuff. I"m trumpeting the get out of your comfort zone, stop spending 5 hours a day on email and bible study planning, and trust God for something that will dramatically change the spiritual climate on campus for Jesus.

I think you brought up a good distinction in this discussion. Faith/Future stuff can be applied to various aspects of ministry.

I'm really loving the discussion. Very engaging stuff! Keep posting!

Tillie said...

This is great info to know.