Do you remember the so-called church you attended at your secondary, university, and college levels? The Christian Union is the fellowship of Christian students in learning institutions. In the likeness of a church, it strives to ensure that the students are nurtured and discipled to grow spiritually. Normally, the students gather in one of their halls for the services on different days as planned by the leadership (mainly made up of fellow students) of the Christian Union. The constituents of the Christian Union are primarily students, and only in some cases do the lecturers or teachers join them for the service.
Writing as a leader of a Christian Union of a University in Kenya, I understand that the Christian unions have their objectives, visions, and missions, not forgetting the core values that guide their effectiveness in specific institutions. The carriers of these visions are mostly us, the leaders, and the school chaplaincy. Therefore, it’s critical to understand how the leaders are chosen. Are they nominated or elected? What are the considerations?
During leadership transitions, the committee selected to conduct the entire nomination process has the task of separating the wheat from the chaff (Matthew 3:12). This committee mainly comprises the former students who served in different positions in the same Christian Union. It is believed that if the leadership served well, they would likely know better the potential leaders that can replace them. The greatest fear is to nominate leaders who are not God-fearing. Leaders are nominated based on how well they have been discipled. The advantage of nominating leaders instead of electing them is that it reduces the chances of picking the wrong candidate. The students can physically vote for their preferred candidate among the nominated ones during the election process. Notably, most Christian Unions have an average of ten executive committee leaders and about eight sub-committees to run the union’s activities. This diversity of many students on the committee helps the nomination process to be more balanced and well thought out, giving it the advantage over simply electing.
What makes this process of nomination daunting is the reality that all students are new and come from different cultures. Some may have been new converts, some from churches that do not believe in the supremacy and sufficiency of the Scriptures, and some from religions with doctrinal challenges. So, how do all these people unite and form one team that works for the body of Christ, to the glory of God? Should we close our eyes and say that they are still young and that, at this stage, it doesn’t matter how they serve God? Or is there more of a process that we should follow?
We begin by answering these questions of the calling of the Christian Union leaders. A calling results from God’s summoning of people to a particular assignment. God called Moses and outlined the task before him (Exodus 3:9-10). Can God call young people? The answer is a resounding yes. Jeremiah was called into the ministry at a young age (Jeremiah 1:5-6). The disciples themselves were all under the age of 21 when Jesus first called them. Aside from calling him, the Lord promises Jeremiah that he will be with him and deliver him (Jeremiah 1:8). In one of the epistles of Paul to Timothy, he wrote about certain qualities that should be considered when nominating church leaders. Even though all these qualities may not be applicable in the Christian Union setting, it was important for Timothy to know them despite his young age (1 Timothy 3:1-9). We also should consider these qualities of a pastor (1 Timothy 3:1-9) or a deacon (1 Timothy 3:8-13) whenever nominating a Christian Union leader.
Christian Union Benefits to the Students
The Christian Union gives students a platform to assemble as the body of Christ to fellowship. Through such gatherings, brethren can stir one another in love, encouraging each other through tough times and being accountable (Hebrews 10:25). The testimonies shared help them grow in their faith in Jesus Christ. Bible study sessions play a significant role in enlightening the students about the Word of God, which is a foundational principle of the salvation journey. Students who receive Christ in school are put in discipleship classes where they are taught about Christianity and how to live out their faith. Evangelism programs allow the non-believers in school to hear the Word of God, hence a wonderful opportunity to fulfill the great commission [Matthew 28:19-20]. The missions ministry also goes beyond the university walls to the community to preach the good news; by doing so, the unions give the students a chance to extend the message of Christ to the locals. Considering what all Christian Unions do on university and college campuses, it is all the more important that we nominate someone who is God-fearing to be an effective leader.
To achieve all these objectives, the need for godly leaders becomes fundamental. This means that before selecting the leaders, the concerned committee is to be found in the place of prayer, seeking God’s guidance. This process, however, continues beyond the nomination point. The incoming leaders are then put under mentorship to help strengthen their leadership skills.
Moses, in the Bible, despite being called by God, became overwhelmed and drained with the responsibilities assigned to him. He needed help! His father-in-law advised him to form a team to assist him with the responsibilities on his plate (Exodus 18:21). In the same way, Christian Union leaders should use the platform they have as a training ground to raise better leaders and servants in the kingdom of God. Christian Union leaders should also not feel that simply because they have been nominated and then elected to lead they have all that they need simply because they have been chosen. They need to beg God for his grace to lead their fellow students effectively. They also need to ask God for wisdom to lead students during their season of leadership, as Solomon did (2 Chronicles 1:10-12, James 1:5).
In conclusion, the Christian Union has the potential to be a formidable platform for the growth and development of Christian students in matters of spirituality and leadership. Challenges do abound. However, with the help of the scriptures, the young leaders can build up and encourage students to abide in God’s Word alone (1 John 2:14). With such potential let us take care to nominate and elect solid leaders for Christian Unions in our universities and college campuses.