I suppose it began about 10 years ago. Several evangelical campus ministries at Indiana University of PA (IUP) loosely organized into what we call The River – many streams fed by one Spirit, flowing together with one heart and one mission. I believe in this concept so much that we named our ministry center the River House.
In launching Search for Me Ministries I’ve had to back off from my direct involvement with college students at IUP, but the heavenly Father certainly had plans that weren’t on my radar screen. And so I’ve stayed involved with The River, doing what I can to help network, support and encourage those who are on the front lines of college ministry at IUP.
Several of us have met together over the past couple years at our River House for prayer and this year we’re excited to have some new folks on board (as an answer to our prayers). Recently we kicked off the school-year with a luncheon and what an excellent time we all had together!
Our mission is universal, flowing from the Great Commission.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)
Our call is not to make converts or even denominationalites—we’re here as the covenant family of God to make disciples for His kingdom.
In spite of being a relatively unknown, secular state school, IUP has a rich legacy of lives that have been touched and transformed by Christ, people who have gone out to make an impact in our world.
I have former classmates from IUP who pastor large churches and lead national organizations. Former students from ours and other IUP ministries are making an impact for the kingdom both here and abroad. But regardless if the footprint is large or relatively small, they all matter. Each disciple, whether a ministry leader or a stay at home mom, has the potential to powerfully influence the lives of many others.
Our disciples must be disciples of Christ first and foremost. We are not here to build our own kingdoms, but to advance His. This is perhaps one of the greatest errors of the church through the years. As organizations we often display the same sense of self-centeredness that we would despise in the lives of our members. All too often we fall prey to the slithering hiss of the serpent, seeking to build our own kingdoms, unrighteously judging our brothers and sisters and competing against those who share our mission. Aren’t these all identity issues?
It was our Lord Himself who said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24). One primary reason that the church is losing the battle for our culture is that we are a kingdom divided (John 13:34-35). Why are we so quick to ignore this reality? We don’t have to morph into one organization, but we do need to be of one heart and one Spirit.
I’m not just talking about unity for the sake of unity. We are a brother and sisterhood in Christ. It’s not what we’re trying to be. It’s who we already are. If we will simply be who we are, who knows what our God will do?
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever.” Psalm 133 (NASB)
All of our programs, all of our outreaches, all of our hard work, mean relatively little unless God blesses. As we walk in covenant unity the life of God begins to permeate our ministries and our mission field.
Let the river flow!