There is an ongoing argument in most educational circles about the level at which one is supposed to teach. The two sides of the argument go something like this:
“We must teach to the lowest level present in order to ensure that no one is left behind.”
“We must intentionally teach slightly over people’s heads in order to challenge and draw people up.”
Both sides have some merit to them, but if we simplify them, it seems to me that we’re dealing with expectations. The first opinion is built on the assumption that people are going to be left behind if we challenge them, and none of us want that to happen. The second opinion is based on the belief that by setting the expectations high, the vast majority of people will be drawn up to those expectations. The first opinion expects failure and wants to guard against it; the second opinion expects success and paves the way for it.
I saw this lived out recently at Passion 2010. Passion is a conference for college-aged young adults, and many might consider it foolish simply because it targets that age group. After all, college students are lazy, just coasting through life on mommy and daddy’s dime. They only study when they have to, and they certainly don’t have any money. It’s this last reason that motivates lots of churches in the setting of their budgets, for college students are seen as a drain on church finances. They don’t put much back in, so financial resources are better spent on young families or the youth group, because those are the people who give.
That all feels like opinion number one to me. Low expectations.
But at Passion, the expectations were just a bit higher. Not only did they expect more than 20,000 college students to pay the entrance fee and show up, but they actually expected something of them while they were there. A great portion of the rented space at the conference was filled with booths for global causes to which students could give and participate in right then. But let’s be honest—these “kids” had already paid to come to a conference. How much was it really fair to expect from them in addition to that?
How about numbers like these:
- Building an education center for the Dalit people of India through Operation Mobilization. Goal: $75,000. Given: $92,753.91.
- Small business loans for women in Haiti through Hope International. Goal: 200 x $200 loans. Given: $64,412.34 for 322 loans.
- Bible translation for Shatika and Rom People of Southeast Asia with OneVerse. Goal: Translate 4,000 verses at a cost of $100,000. Given: 3,134 verses/$78.359.
- Sponsor 100 seminary students in the Middle East with E3 Partners. Goal: $30,000. Given: $45,318/151 students.
- Build 10 wells in Guatemala with Living Water. Goal: $50,000. Given: $113,865/22 wells built.
- Provide 100 cleft palate surgeries for children in Afghanistan with Cure International. Goal: $55,000. Given: $68,160.54/111 children get surgeries.
- Package and send Bibles to unreached people in Asia through Bibles Unbound. Goal: 3,000 Bibles packaged and $3,000 to cover cost. Given/Done: 3,000 Bibles packaged/$9,530.56 given to send more.
- Build a border outpost in Nepal to intercept sex trafficking victims through Not For Sale. Goal: $25,000. Given: $86,516.72 for 3+ border outposts.
- Support a Child Survival project in Indonesia through Compassion International. Goal: 100 students x $20 a month for one year = $24,000. Given: 205 students x $20 a month for one year = $50,170. (The 12-month commitment represents pledges for this cause.)
- Package meals through Passion partner Feed My Starving Children. Goal: package 100,000 meals at Passion 2010 and give $17,500 to cover costs. Given/Done: 108,432 meals packaged and $17,533.32 given.
- Sponsor children affected by HIV/AIDS in Mozambique with World Vision. Goal: 200 students x $35 monthly/package 1000 Caregiver kits. Given: 174 students x $35 monthly/1000 caregiver kits assembled.
- Drink coffee and fund projects in Ethiopia through Passion partner Gobeana Coffee. Given: $24,548.
This means college students gave $724,480.42 to global relief efforts. In addition, a family at Passion 2010 matched the total as of Tuesday morning, bringing the total amount of money raised to $1,393,077.42.
And that figure doesn’t include the 14,820 towels and 72,600 pairs of socks given to assist the homeless shelters of Atlanta.
That is audacious. It’s astounding. It’s unbelievable.
And perhaps there’s a ton we can learn from this. Maybe in discipleship as a whole, the problem isn’t that people are getting left behind; maybe it’s that we’re not expecting enough from them. Not expecting enough financially. Enough commitment. Enough intellectual output. Maybe Christ was onto something when he said that if anyone wants to follow Him, they should come and die.
That’s a pretty big expectation. Maybe we can learn something from that, too.