Step 19: The Second Semester Rally

Eric Swanson


Typically you will start second semester with some disparity in the level of student commitment. Those who went to the Christmas Conference are going to be fired-up for activity and involvement, while those who slept during Christmas Break will come back to campus pretty sluggish.

Your job is to rally the ministry and bring the whole motley crew together into a committed community, “standing firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).

There are a variety of ways to handle this challenge: good solid teaching of the Word is a critical component as is some well orchestrated social activities. And yet, as you plan to pull your community together, you cannot ignore the broader mission of your ministry – reaching out to lost students.

As you ponder your options, consider this article that offers perspective on these competing values and priorities of ministry. 


Have you ever wondered who Cru is as an organization? What are we and who are we? We receive mixed messages. One of our leaders stands up and tells us that we are a family – a caring community of staff and students who are willing to identify with the hurts and pain of others. We are to be a community of people who love and care. We are committed to creating “safe communities.” Another leader defines us as “a self-contained Great Commission fighting unit.” After all, we are an army engaged in spiritual battle. A third leader (usually wearing a tie) talks of systems and processes and organizational structures. Cru is presented as a global corporation in need of standard procedures and training. Well, what are we? Are we a family, an army or a corporation? Jim Dethmer, former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, has given definition to Christian organizations by presenting three paradigms of ministry. A paradigm is simply a way of looking at something – a way of seeing. Each paradigm is found in the Scriptures and presents us with a clear picture of how a body of believers functions. Each paradigm has it’s own core values, roles and objectives.


A family is the essential unit of any community. In a family the core value is love. What is a family without love and care? The roles include fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. The fifty plus “one another” exhortations suggests that we are all equals as children of the Father. In the book of Acts, the word “disciple” is replaced with the word “brother.” As “brothers” we should “esteem others more highly than ourselves” (Philippians 2:2,3) and “submit to one another” (Ephesians 5:21). In the family relationship, we are to ”treat older men as fathers, older women as mothers, younger men as brothers, younger women as sisters in all purity in the Lord” (1 Timothy 5:1,2).

The key person, or the one who gets the most attention is usually the youngest or weakest member. For this reason we pay a lot of attention to Basic Follow-up and aiding new believers into the family. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7 Paul reminded these young believers that “we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” Later he wrote “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children...” (2:11). As part of a caring community, a group of women accompanied Jesus and the disciples to care for their needs (Matthew 27:55). They were family. When Paul was in prison, his friends cared for his needs (Acts 24:33). His need qualified him as the most needy member of the community. Leaders are exhorted to “be shepherds of God’s flock that is under (their) care” (1 Peter 5:2). This is the care that we give and receive from being part of a family. One becomes part of a family through no merit of his or her own. One is either born into a family or adopted. Family membership is not earned nor can it be lost. We are always connected to other members of the family.


We are more than a family. The Bible also portrays each of us as soldiers engaged in a cause. There is a battle to be won, armor that needs to be worn, an enemy that needs to be conquered and prisoners who need to be set free. Unlike a family, the roles in an army are hierarchical. The Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:9) explained the role of a military leader this way: “For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

The core value of an army is winning the war. In a battle, the focus is not so much on loving one another but on our suitability for battle. The key person, rather than being the most needy, is the one who is most committed – the one who is most sold out ... the one who pays the price and sacrifices. So Paul aptly writes in 2 Tim 2:3,4 “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer.” As an army we focus on building courageous leaders. Being part of an army conveys that we exist for something bigger than ourselves. We are engaged in a committed cause. How do we get into an army? Normally, we volunteer. The rewards are the crowns of being a faithful soldier.


In a corporation, ideally, everything is done in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14). Those who talk of the corporation talk of effectiveness and efficiency. Performance reviews, position focus sheets, strategic planning, allocation of finite resources toward the strategic goals are all part of the Crusade corporate culture.

The core value of a corporation is effectiveness. The roles center around team leaders, trainers and teams. The key person is the most productive person – the one who contributes best to accomplishing the organizational mission. Individuals who are asked to assume greater leadership responsibilities are usually those who have been most effective or productive. As a competent corporation we need to honor those “faithful and wise manager(s), whom the master (can) put in charge his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time” (Luke 12:42).

A consistent qualification for deacons and overseers is their ability to manage (1 Timothy 3:4, 3:12, etc.). Management always involves stewardship and accountability in using time and resources to accomplish a responsibility. As managers, we will be asked to give an account of our stewardship (Luke 16:1,2). How do you join a corporation? You are hired. How do you get out? You are fired or you quit.


Each of us, because of our particular bents, will gravitate toward one paradigm to the possible exclusion of the others. To some, we are primarily a family. For others we are the cause. Enough with this love and unity – there is a world to be won. To others, the organizational principles are what are most predominant.

The truth of the matter is this – we must have the intellectual flexibility to embrace all three paradigms without letting go of any of them. We have to hold all three in mind when we are making decisions. We have to consider not only how decisions affect us as a family, but also as a cause. We have to pay attention to every area. If we don’t, the problems are predictable.

For example, if we don’t pay attention to the corporate side we will not be able to “manage our resources to develop our people to accomplish our objectives.” We’ll never have enough resources to meet the needs of the people and accomplish the objectives of the army and the family. Think how little ministry you are able to sustain when your personal and ministry support accounts are at maximum deficit. Resources are corporate issues. Think of Exodus 18. Because of Moses’ mismanagement of time and resources, the needs of the people and the army were on the brink of disaster. Jethro’s timely counsel on delegation allowed them to move forward.

We also need a cause – a purpose for which we labor. Without a cause there is no momentum. We become ingrown and often expend our spiritual energy fighting with one another rather than fighting together in a common cause. For this reason, as a leader, you need to live out your role as direction setter and align and motivate your team under a common vision. You are the change-agent who is making a difference.

Without a strong sense of community and family, people tend to be seen and treated for their utilitarian value – for their efficiency and production. People are reduced to what they do, rather than being valued for who they are. In a community, people have value in and of themselves. In the family we are committed to coaching our staff in their development. We are concerned about their emotional well being as much as their production. In the cause people are evaluated by their faith, not their love.

To neglect any of these areas is to risk failure as a leader. We need to distinguish when we are a family and when we are in an army. We seek to be effective with people and efficient with tasks. When we try to be efficient with people, we usually end up being ineffective. We don’t put on the full armor of God as a brother, but as a soldier Ephesians 6:11-13).


A family is supposed to be a very safe place, a place of love, grace and unconditional acceptance. A battle is usually a very dangerous place but often it’s exciting and energizing. A corporation is a very organized place. Failure to understand these organizational paradigms is one of the major causes of organizational dysfunction.

You have undoubtedly found yourself confounded by these mixed metaphors of our organization especially if you have been unaware of their existence. Perhaps you thought you joined a family but regularly you have been evaluated on the basis of your performance.

Hey, those are not the values and behavior of a safe family! Members of a family are not evaluated and rewarded on the basis of their effectiveness. You can’t fire your mom because she forgot to put mustard on your sandwich. Brothers don’t shake hands ... they hug.

The confusion is not new. Mark 4:38 says that “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He was building their faith while the disciples thought he was building the family. In Luke 10:40 “...Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself ? Tell her to help me!’” She was expecting the Lord to value her efficiency but Jesus was interested in connecting with her as a member of the family.


Presenting a ministry in these metaphors is not new. In Philippians 2:25 Paul wrote of Epaphraditis in the context of all three metaphors – ”my brother (as part of the family), my fellow-worker (as part of the corporation) and fellow-soldier (as part of the army).”

When Moses asked God for a successor, he asked for “a man over this who will lead them out (courage in the cause) and bring them in (care).” Effective leadership always involves care for people and concern for the cause. Some leaders mistakenly feel that we shouldn’t really be involved in the cause until all the needs of the family are met. The truth is, all the needs of the family will never be met, but we still need to move forward.

U.S. Grant’s predecessor, McClellen was fired because of his unwillingness to engage in winnable battles (the cause) because of his care for his men. On the other hand, people will take great risks if there is a foundation of care. Fighter pilots will fly a risky mission as a soldier partly because they know that their buddies (in the family) will spend whatever it takes to rescue them if shot down.

Take care that you don’t manipulate people. People will do more as a brother than as an employee Brothers will often make sacrifice that employees will never make. Because of their love for David, three of his mighty men risked their lives by getting a drink of water from the well in the Philistine stronghold in Bethlehem (2 Samuel 23:13-17). They did this for their brother, not their boss. If we implore people to sacrifice but there is no recompense, they will feel manipulated. When the special opportunities and positions are reallocated and they are shorted, many will feel like they were used.

Eric Swanson is a former Cru staff member who now serves as a Leadership Community Director for Externally Focused Churches. He received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Bakke Graduate University.

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