Profitable Participation In Organizations

Saturday, after our last church service, I rushed out to the nearest university to an assembly of about 500 freshmen. I spoke to them for about 20 minutes about college life, learning English, and participation in an organization. This is an amazing tool that God has blessed us with in our city – great relationships with several influential campus organizations. Several leaders are faithful members of our church. And to be honest, we put a lot of time and effort into making these organizations more successful. I think we’ve had to learn the hard way about the right and wrong approaches to utilizing these opportunities.

– We’ve got to have a plan for introducing people to the church. Otherwise it just won’t happen. There was a period of couple months that we were going to English corners without any real effect. There’s nothing magical about English corners or any other association or club that you can join. There has to be an idea about how a person could find out about church and come if they were interested. For us, English corners are one of our primary means of meeting new people. We don’t go to English corners looking for church visitors, we go looking for friends. Then when we’re hanging out later, as friends do, we tell them about the church. These days, we have several members from our church at any event we go to – the goal for them is always the same: meet some people, get some phone numbers.

– We’ve got to contribute real value to their organization. Otherwise you’re just using people. It is contradictory to the Gospel message itself to participate in any community simply to get. The Gospel makes us genuine givers. Contributing value is also necessary for a long term relationship. We’ve learned (the hard way) not to strip-mine an organization. We really try now, though, to make these organizations better. Last week, when things blew up with that teacher from the nearby university, the first demand she had was that we stop going to English corners. The leader of the organization told the teacher, ‘If they don’t come, the English corner is finished.’ That was a big compliment – plenty of English organizations are completely foreigner-free. Most of these campus organizations are pretty weak and aimless – they really respond well to investment and direction. Which creates a thankful audience that’s willing to listen to what you have to say.

– We’ve got to keep freedom in our schedules. And here’s the pitfall that keeps many people out of these relationships completely. They can be an endless draw on your time. If you want to be involved, you have to learn to say ‘no’ when you have to. For us, because this is our primary means of making new friends, we can allot a big chunk of time to it. For example, this week, I spent about 5 hours at different organizations’ meetings. When we can’t agree to something, though, it’s helpful to give a consolation. I had a meeting last Thursday with three leaders of a campus organization that wanted help for their weekly meetings. Had to turn them down. But we offered to come out and help them once a month. They were excited enough about that.

Anyway, the point is, while many people have ideas about impacting a campus, they rarely materialize. I would venture a guess that a lot of these efforts fail at a very fundamental stage – meeting people. Universities can feel like impenetrable fortresses at times. Getting involved in some good organizations can be a productive way to overcome this most basic obstacle.

And last of all, thanks to all who prayed for us these two weeks. We had another great day of services yesterday with two students professing faith in Christ! Praise the Lord – when we are most worried about protection, he often goes beyond and blesses!

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One Comment on “Profitable Participation In Organizations”

  1. david January 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    what are the hindrance of gospel

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