Friday, November 09, 2012

It's Not 1951 Anymore: What Cru Can Learn From The 2012 Election

Photo Credit: jamesomalley
"Either [Republicans] press the snooze button on the Latino electorate and continue with an exclusive Southern strategy that is no longer applicable in a 21st century reality, or they have a 'come to Jesus' moment ... where they realize America has changed," Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

The re-election of Barack Obama as president of The United States has served as a stunning wake-up call to many evangelical Christians that our country is different than what it used to be. No longer can a candidate focus their attention on the white population and win a presidential election and gone is the day where a candidate can ignore historically marginalized groups and still come out on top.

Here is the breakdown of how various ethnic groups voted in the election:
  • 39% of Whites voted for Obama. 59% voted for Romney.
  • 71% of Hispanics voted for Obama. 27% voted for Romney.
  • 93% of African Americans voted for Obama. 6% voted for Romney.
  • 73% of Asian Americans and other ethnic groups voted for Obama. 26% voted for Romney.
As I sat and watched the election results roll in on Tuesday evening, I heard much discussion of how Latinos (now numbering over 50 million in the U.S.) were affecting the vote. No longer feeling accepted by the Republican Party, over seven out of ten Hispanic voters chose to vote for President Obama. As a result of these shifts in voter preference, I believe we will see the Republican Party change. But why? Because they really care about ethnic minorities...or because they want more votes in order to retain the power they once held?

In reflecting upon these results, I can't help but think of how these current realities affect the ministry I work with, Cru. Being in existence for over 60 years, our reach has been widespread. Our ministries exist on well over 1,000 campuses across the U.S. and we have tens of thousands students involved. Countless lives have been changed and there's no doubt that God has done some great things through the work of Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as Cru). But with now nearly 40% of U.S. college students either American ethnic minorities or international students, our U.S. movements are still overwhelmingly comprised of students and staff members of European descent. It's not 1951 anymore.

Similarly to the identity crisis that the Republican Party is going through, our ministry is wrestling with the realities of the changes that we, as a largely white ministry, need to make so that ethnic minorities are effectively reached, equipped and empowered by the gospel truth that enables them to live out their faith as who God made them to be. Change is never easy...but change we must.

I've continued to work with Cru all these years because I believe our leaders and our staff genuinely care about giving EVERY student and faculty member an opportunity to respond to the love and forgiveness offered in Christ. I truly believe that we are committed to seeing students and faculty of color empowered as leaders that will not only impact their campuses but also their communities and the world.

However, I'm concerned that our unspoken motivation to see these changes may have more to do with how we feel about ourselves or what others think of us rather than being compelled by the love of God. We fear of becoming "irrelevant" in the eyes of others. We agonize over our "lack of diversity" and what universities may think of us. We become wrapped up in "white guilt" and minister to students of color because "we're supposed to." I'm worried that we will change just enough so that we can breathe a little easier when we evaluate ourselves.

Jesus did not come to live among us because of guilt or fear of what others might say or to do just enough to be satisfied. He was motivated by His furious love for us and His absolute commitment to the glory of His Father. Cru staff members share our faith with students of color for the same reason we share the gospel with white students -- because they matter to God. We trust God to plant movements among all ethnic communities because God receives the glory He deserves when His gospel flourishes among all peoples everywhere. We equip leaders of every culture (in the U.S. and around the world) because their contribution is needed in order for us all to thrive and for God's plans to be fulfilled everywhere.

For Cru to change, we must release our power and empower those that don't currently have it. We must humbly leave behind that which is comfortable for us so that others don't have to leave what is comfortable for them to hear about Jesus. We need to realize that our ways of doing things might not work in contexts we're unfamiliar with and we must be willing to learn from those who come from those contexts. We need to take some God-inspired risks to learn from and influence those that we've historically failed. 

Our country may be changing but God hasn't changed. He has always cared about people whether they represent 1% of the population or 100% of the population. So if we see the lives changed of massive amounts of white students but fail to effectively impact students of color, then we are simply not being who God has called us to be. I don't want us to become like a political party that only changes because it doesn't want to miss out on votes. I want us to change because we miss the heart of God if we don't.


Beav said...

really good Scott. totally agree and share those sentiments and its why I'm still around too. I believe leaders in our org truly want to see us change and become inclusive and a diverse community and organization.

I do believe that we have some steps before we are truly committed. I am hopefully that maybe events of the past week can move people us to a new heart level on these issues. However I'm also wary for the reasons you listed that pragmatism will override repentance and genuine desire for transformation. I think the next season for us may be a pretty good indicator of where our motivations and hearts lie. A lot of people inside and outside the org are paying attention to what happens next in the org. Praying for a new day.

Unknown said...

Amen Scott, amen is all I've got to say!!! Thx for sharing :-)

Betsy said...

I love my job working for Cru serving the staff in the Great Lakes Regional office. I love the international and multi-ethnic people who I come into contact with regularly here in my midwest Indiana office. I love that on any given day, someone from Macedonia or some place I can barely pronounce walks through the door by my desk. It is a joy to be part of a great ministry that spans cultural and ethnic boundaries easily because of our common bond in Christ. That said, for me this election had less to do with color or culture than it had to do with ethics. Reading this blog post was helpful regarding being even more aware of the cultural changes in this country over the years. What concerns me more is the drift away from God in our culture.

Kaye said...

Good words, Scott!

scottmcrocker said...

Brian - thanks for your words. I agree and think we're probably coming up on "gut check" time about how serious we are about this.

Patrice & Kaye - thanks for the encouragement.

Betsy - thanks for sharing your thoughts & perspective on this!

Unknown said...

I've read quite a few blogs from Christians on this topic. Of course they are talking about the church needing to shift at large and the comments have been pretty hateful to say the least. Im glad the comments on here have actually been productive and nice.

I love how you address the Catch 22 of all this. Motivation changes the effectiveness of least when dealing with people. As a song by Derick Minor says "Real recognize real." In an effort to reach EVERY student for Christ its gonna be crucial that it comes from a genuine heart because students can tell when it doesnt and that burns more than anything and gives Christians another bad name. Being diverse and relevant for the sake of being diverse and relevant isnt real ministry and doesnt allow for anyone's heart to really change. Its going to be interesting to see how all this unfolds. I love Cru. The Lord used them to give me the tools to live for Christ for a lifetime and I would hate for that to die or change. I pray that the Lord would raise up more students who have a genuine heart to preach the gospel to anyone despite ethnic group so we can make the Lord's name famous!

scottmcrocker said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tyshan. I think you are right. At its core, this is a heart issue.