Supporting FOCUS part 2

I thought I’d address a number of criticisms from comments on the last post.

Firstly I’m not arguing that students should be taken away from the influence of older people (far from it). As Mikey rightly points out it is possible to maintain meaningful contact with local church while engaged in activity at FOCUS.

Secondly I’m not arguing that studies aren’t important. They are. Students need to be organized and manage their time so they can be committed to both University study and Christian service and evangelisation. It doesn’t have to be an either or scenario.

Thirdly I’m not arguing that it should be “compulsory” for students to go to FOCUS. Nor should students "have to" or be coerced go to FOCUS OR be made to feel guilty for not going, far from it. Rather being involved in FOCUS should be something desired and owned. I’m after willing groups of young men and women for FOCUS who are enthusiastic and keen to see their friends saved and the campus reached for Christ.

Positioning a work at the ‘coalface’ allows for better and more effective engagement with a culture. In other words FOCUS is better positioned to equip students and engage University culture than any local church can ever afford to.

Students are missionaries called to their culture. While at University the University is that culture (or at least it should be for the purposes of evangelism) for the reasons I’ve listed below.

I maintain that the University period is unique in terms of it’s evangelistic edge. It’s a time of life when statistically, people are most likely to either become Christian (or give it away). It’s time when patterns and habits of thinking are solidified for life. It’s a time when Christians spend long periods of time in constant contact with non-Christians. It’s a time when people are more open to thinking and considering ideas.



Alan said... 8/11/2007 8:53 pm  

Oh d'oh.. :-(
I agree with you, in my comment below! lol :-P

Sherrin said... 8/11/2007 10:15 pm  

Mike, your support form doesn't seem to be able to be downloaded from the link you provide anymore. You may want to fix this :)

Laura said... 8/12/2007 4:17 am  

I think your idea's interesting, Mike -- moreover, I think it would actually deepen and strengthen the relationship between churches and FOCUS. If each local church "sent out" one or two of their uni students on purpose to be FOCUS emissaries and workers, it would give the churches a point of contact with FOCUS. More prayer support, and more financial support, are likely when the people in the church see someone week upon week who is closely linked with both their congregation and with campus ministry.

The only problem I can see is if the churches wanted to use their emissaries/missionaries to exert undue influence over FOCUS's agenda. But that seems pretty unlikely. More likely is what you foresee, Mike, which is a sense of "ownership" of campus ministry and of responsibility to actively evangelize.

Gordon Cheng said... 8/12/2007 5:54 am  

I worked from 1989-1999 as AFES dude at Melbourne Uni, and since then have been in various parishes in Sydney—currently helping run the 5.00 congregation at St Paul's Carlingford. So I have sat on both sides of the fence.

I would say unequivocally that those who have the opportunity to minister and learn the Bible on campus should do so, and that if this involves some slight winding back at church then the church ought to bless them and pray for them.

First, campus is a wonderful mission field and the church ought to see the campus as a place where they can support mission at a fraction of the cost of sending the person overseas. That's basic.

Second, if the AFES group is operating effectively, the local church member is going to be strengthened in their knowledge of the Bible and in their Christian life. They are learning what it is to be Christian in the best possible way—whilst doing evangelism.

Third, this is going to flow back into a lifetime of gospel benefit for the local church. I still remember one of my supporters at Melbourne Uni speaking with thankfulness to God about his years there. Now, decades later, he still had his notes from talks given on campus and would refer to them and be reminded of what he had learnt. And he was still doing good gospel ministry in his local church—as were his children.

It never needs to be either/or, when viewed over the long term.

Glad you're doing this work, Mike.

Renae said... 8/12/2007 10:36 am  

Hmm interesting comment. There's basically no meshing going on between Focus and my church, which happens to be the closest church to the uni. That is, except for occasional announcements about what Focus is doing. This is strange.

I'm with Alan, I made my insightful comment on the other post!

Renae said... 8/12/2007 10:48 am  

Mike, can you please post about laser skirmish? I wanna know how it went. Jerome, who normally blogs about things within 10 minutes of them happening, has failed to do so this time. ;)

Stan and Clare said... 8/12/2007 1:51 pm  

Thanks Mike. This post is much clearer than the previous one.

marion said... 8/12/2007 5:40 pm  

My 2 cents worth.

Many students come to Uni of Tas from o/s & hear the Gospel often for the first time. For those who become believers it's an important time before they return o/s & tell others. So FOCUS is a vital point of contact.

Local churches may need to be reminded of this. I also think it would help AFES workers if there were churches nearby to back them up in looking after o/s students.

When I was at Uni (Qld) there was a church near the campus which saw itself as a "student" church, was very supportive of the AFES work, & did a lot of looking after of o/s students.

BSJ-rom said... 8/12/2007 5:42 pm  

Mike Mike Mike...

You're saying that you don't want to send people on a guilt trip for not attending FOCUS... I realise that you probably don't want to, but in essence, I think that's what you've done (and probably something that has been done in the past).

You say that you want keen people to be part of FOCUS. From this, I read (slightly exaggerated) shame on you if you're not keen.

Am I being too harsh? Sorry if I am.

Either way, Christian groups at the uni and at schools can often be seen as things for the spiritual supermen and wonderwomen of the local churches.

mike said... 8/13/2007 10:46 am  

As I said in my post guilt tripping people into coming to FOCUS is counter productive to the work and so would a stupid thing to do. I’m certainly NOT interested in shaming people for not coming to FOCUS for the same reason.

There are many people who don’t come to FOCUS for good reasons and there are a number who also don’t come for bad reasons. I don’t judge these people I don’t pressure these people I seek to listen to their concerns (some valid some not) and make FOCUS a more effective ministry.

Secondly there was an attitude at FOCUS six or so years ago (including myself) that might have argued “shame on people for not getting involved”. This was in retrospect immature, naive and something for which I and others are truly sorry. If you feel this way then I’m sorry if I gave you that impression.

As for being “spiritual supermen and women” of local churches I think this is rubbish. By enlarge most local churches don’t clearly understand what FOCUS is about (this isn’t necessarily their fault). They know Sam and his ministry, but this is very different to knowing about FOCUS and student ministry on the Uni campus.

BSJ-rom said... 8/13/2007 12:43 pm  

The spiritual superman and wonderwoman comments also stem from my time at the Christian group at Calvin. In that case, I think the group was seen as something for either the geeky Christians, or the ultra mature, super or wonder Christians.

Many of my friends at Calvin also made it to university, hence, the observation translates, at least for this reason, into the university culture. Mike, you'd be better qualified than me to comment on other reasons for this.

mike said... 8/13/2007 4:01 pm  

I'm sorry mate but I can't comment for the Christian group @ Calvin. Nor can I comment for your friends.

I don't think that FOCUS culture now could be described as full of spiritual "superman and wonder woman". I know I'm not. I'm just an ordinary guy who does the best with what he's got for God's glory.

mike said... 8/15/2007 10:18 am  

Oooo Sherrin and everyone else. I have now fixed the link on the side if you want to give me money via the AFES website.

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