"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
Last weekend the staff and interns of FOCUS had our Staff Retreat. It was a time of relaxation, fellowship, and planning. One of the major topics of discussion over the weekend was our long-term vision. By reviewing our goals and methods, I think all of us experienced the renewing of our minds, a re-orientation of our focus.
Here are some of the goals and strategies of FOCUS that I particularly value:
Leadership is from the ground up. Many churches and ministries hire professional ministers with seminary degrees who have vast knowledge of the Bible but little knowledge of the ministry they are joining. In FOCUS, our leaders are students who spend a year or two as members before being asked to lead their peers. No formal religious education is required, only a willingness to learn and a desire to serve God. In this way, we can equip anyone to be a leader in God's kingdom. Sure, that means we take a risk - a student leader might not agree with staff about everything - but Jesus took risks when he chose leaders, too. Instead of picking priests and experts in Scripture, he chose fishermen and laborers and taught them just what they needed to know.
Community matters. The American mindset is fundamentally individualistic: "I can be anything I want to be," "Look out for number one," "Me against the world." I think that way of thinking can be really harmful to Christians, who are exhorted to "be devoted to one another" and "honor one another above yourselves" (Romans 12:10). FOCUS has always put a strong emphasis on the importance of healthy community. We grow stronger and live better when we're together. Healthy community means we teach each other and learn from each other. We're honest with each other and don't let bitterness or grudges linger. We can rely on each other for our needs, and we're always happy to share in the joys and successes of others. In FOCUS, Core is our strongest tool for building community. We come together in small, same-gender groups to talk about the things we're really struggling with, to pray for and with each other, and to support each other as we grow in Christ.
Focus on the campus by being on campus. College campuses are a vital mission field. College is a time when young people face a lot of tough decisions and new experiences, and many of those students are far from parents for the first time. FOCUS reaches out to these students with a message of hope and the offer of a welcome community. College campuses are also extremely diverse; students come from other regions of the US and even from other countries. FOCUS is active and present on the college campus, where these students spend most of their time. We go directly to people who need to hear the Gospel, whether for the first time or as a reminder of something they already know.
I love working with FOCUS. I believe that God has prepared a harvest of young people who are ready to start following him and leading others to him. By living as disciples of Christ and sharing a common vision, we can reap that harvest to the glory of God.