Competition versus relationship

Perhaps you’ve observed this trend on your campus as well … the majority of campus ministry leaders on the Colorado State University (CSU) campus agree that there is oftentimes a bit of competition amongst Christian student groups. Upon digging deeper into the topic, we’ve discovered that the root of this competition has often grown from a lack of relationship with one another as campus group leaders.

Over the past few years, we’ve attempted to combat this tendency, and through our efforts have seen a recent surge of growth in our interactions, meetings, and prayer together as leaders. And this fall, for the first time, CSU ministry leaders united at an overnight retreat, a retreat that was all about relationship!

The highlight of our time together was, hands down, the wisdom shared by a local campus ministry/community church pastor, Johnny Square, who spoke to us about his personal experience with unity amongst pastors. About 16 years ago, Johnny and a group of pastors joined together to create the Fort Collins Church Network (FCCN). FCCN has become what I would consider one of the greatest things about Fort Collins, CO (home of CSU), as it has led to flourishing relationships and unity amongst the pastors of the churches in the area.

Fort Collins Church Network

FCCN’s vision statement is, “Doing together what we can’t do separately, in the church and in the community.” Although the statement could be misinterpreted to mean that these leaders get together to plan events, it’s more about relationship. Johnny shared that, leaders of churches know, support, pray for, and care for one another, and in the past 16 years, they have only done 4 or 5 big events together.

Johnny explained that FCCN meetings look something like this – pastors gather together once a month for an hour and a half; one pastor shares a short but transparent devotional; all the pastors pray together, and they run thru a few announcements. It’s a simple structure, but many pastors say that this is their favorite meeting of their entire month! The reason is that there is a deep level of heart sharing. There is a culture in this group of holding nothing back, but, instead, being completely honest and open.

“When they win, I win!”

20140812_090141He also challenged us to genuinely desire for other ministries to win. He shared a personal story, which began at a time when two pastor friends and he all had churches of about the same size. Since that time, he continued, one church’s congregation has skyrocketed, one has stayed the same, and his church has shrunk in size.

As he recounted this story, he was able to say with a smile and full authenticity that, despite the drop in congregation size at his church, he was (and is) excited for those other churches! Why? “Because,” he said, “when [they] win, I win!” Because, truly, we are all on the same team – Jesus’ team!

He finished by exhorting us as campus ministry leaders to really focus on knowing and supporting each other well. This could include eating meals together, exposing deep parts of our hearts to each other, and knowing one another’s families. So, at the campus leader retreat, we ate some meals together, shared some recent struggles and prayed together! We quoted Nacho Libre, spoke of our love for good coffee, played ladder ball and stayed up late (early into the morning hours) chatting. Relationship!

We’re so grateful to have the FCCN, a precedence already set in our city demonstrating what unity amongst believers can look like, and we, as campus ministry leaders at CSU, are very eager to see the same level of unity grow amongst us. As we are beginning this new semester, we have no official combined events on our calendars. However, we are excited and envisioned to grow deeper in our relationships, which will lead to strength deeper, richer, and more eternally fruitful.

John Larsen ProfileJohn got his bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University (go Rams!) in Fort Collins, CO. During college he met his beautiful and talented wife Dani during a summer project in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He has worked full-time with the Rock college ministry through Summitview Community Church since graduating in 2008. He is excited to meet his first child – a daughter – in October 2014. John likes Italian food, running, and spending time with Dani; he dislikes allergies, his flesh, and cantaloupe.