"It is our great desire that in pursuing our own strategic goals of establishing a Christian centre of excellence we develop relationships with those around us that are characterised by courtesy and generosity."
The Oxford Mail, reports on the opening of a new centre for global student mission in Oxford, quotes UCCF's Director Richard Cunningham expressing our desire - generosity.
Stated desires make me ask the question of myself... cos there's my ideal and desire, and then there's me!
I've been involved with this work for 15 years since just after I became a Christian - first as a student, then an intern, and then on the staff team. The ministry of the UCCF and IFES is the fruit of a move of God through students like Norman Grubb at Cambridge in 1919 which has grown and borne fruit all over the world, gathering evangelical churches together for student mission for nearly a century... a legacy carried by subsequent generations who've given themselves to seeing the Universities reached. Real people who together form a family known as UCCF.
Richard leads the UCCF and has done for about the last eight years, having worked with us in the 1990s. When Mark Driscoll shouted across the ocean earlier this year that the British church hadn't got any high calibre Bible teachers Don Carson responded that for starters we have Richard Cunningham. Richard is an outstanding Bible man, evangelist and leader, a member of a church in Oxfordshire with a wide ranging ministry across the UK and beyond. Richard models generosity in his home - a place of outstanding hospitality, in his work - the fellowship feeling increasingly happy, and in the wider church - building fruitful partnerships with all who love the gospel.
Who can I share with? Who can I bless?
Now, UCCF is the establishment when it comes to churches working together in student mission. And it's big. 120+ staff & interns team working with 10,000+ Christian students in Britain. That means we bump into everyone everywhere and we have an opportunity to set the tone of unity among students for good or bad, and to some extent the wider church scene.
Who can I welcome? Who can I include?
Often we fail to do this well - and so need the generosity of others with us too! - but the foundational desire has to be as Richard says, generosity.We're people whose only hope is in the generosity of our God to us in Christ, the fruit of which in us will be a generosity to others. It's not our rule "be generous" but our desire, flowing from the generous heart of our God. For me generosity looks at least like this... and then much more...
- Generosity in student mission means we believe the gospel is really for all students. Our vision to give every student the opportunity to respond to Jesus is right - any other vision is smaller. The gospel is generous enough for any and every student. If Christ can be for me, he can be for you too.
- Generosity means I'm always seeking to involve others in what we're doing.
- Generosity means always releasing the next generation to take responsibility, to carry the vision forward into halls and lectures and societies and nights out and sports clubs.
- Generosity means having open arms to the church - we're just part of the church together anyway - but to always be asking, how can we strengthen our partnerships, who can we bring into the work, how can we do you good and how can you do us good. It means serving and admitting our need, and drawing on others.
- Generosity means my team are available to serve the church, and that it should be good for their own churches that they're on the UCCF team - granted they're not a freebie staff member for their church, and do have a work to do on campus!
- Generosity means if I can't bless with lavish finances I want to be honest about that and seek to serve in other ways.
- Generosity means an open door. When Steve Timmis visited my team last December we hosted an evening for students and churches and a breakfast for church leaders. We'll have Mike Reeves and Becky Pippert with us in 2012/13 and will make similar arrangements to bless others.
- Generosity means assuming the best of others and the worst of myself when conflict arises.
- Generosity means assuming there are people who know better than me who I'm going to seek to learn from.
- Generosity means being generous with encouragment, positive feedback and thankfulness.
- Generosity means availability. I'm not hidden away, but can be contacted and known.
- Generosity means openness - not just available but opening my heart to others.
What does generosity look like for you?