Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Model 4: Student Leadership.

4) Student Leadership. The full time workers in the parachurch organisation have a similar structure to Campus Crusade, but constitutionally each Campus ministry is in fact student lead. The staff workers therefore function as advisors rather than calling all the shots. The student leaders would receive counsel from them, but might also have advice & discipleship from their local churches. This would be the model of UCCF in the UK and IVF in the USA. This is the model that I'm most familiar with. I came through CICCU as an undergrad, and have worked in partnership with groups in Cambridge, Farnham, George Washington University & Georgetown

There are many advantages of this model.
a) It is easier for the organisations to be recognised on Campus. Often University authorities give special privileges (free rooms etc.) to student societies in a way in which they don't to organisations that are not comprised entirely of students.
b) The student led nature of the organisation can give great opportunities for young people to have significant ministry opportunities. I benefitted hugely from opportunities to lead a bible study & evangelistic groups as an undergraduate.
c) There is the possibility of local churches partnering with & discipling the students who have leadership positions within the ministry, thus allowing oversight for each leader from his/her local church, and thus fostering also partnership between different local gospel churches.

There are, however, some challenges.
a) The accusation of assuming the role of a church is not intrinsic to this model, though it is a temptation that must be carefully avoided.
b) As the organisation is officially student led, there could be the danger of accountability being an optional extra rather than a necessary implication of the model. This could be extremely damaging.
c) My experience of these CU's is that their effectiveness is dependent upon
(i) the maturity and motivation of the student leaders in any given year.
(ii) the responsibility of the local churches to disciple those leaders. This often means that when this model doesn't work in a healthy way, the responsibility can be placed fairly & squarely not on the model itself, but on the local churches that abdicate their responsibility to disciple their members. This can, however also be exacerbated when staff workers don't encourage the local church as the primary context for discipleship, and see it as primarily their responsibility to disciple students, particularly leaders.

While I have no objection to staff workers discipling students, I would encourage them to disciple them within the context of the local church they both attend, or if they attend different churches, to disciple them towards healthy membership in a gospel preaching local church.

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