Dr. Joseph McRae Mellichamp is Emeritus Professor of Management Science in the Manderson Graduate School of Business at the University of Alabama and National Faculty Representative for Christian Leadership Ministries. For 25 years, Dr. Mellichamp combined successful academic pursuits with effective Christian ministry activities.
In the summer of 1970, Peggy and I attended a conference for Christian professors and staff at Arrowhead Springs, California. It was during this conference that I was challenged by Jim Engel, Walter Bradley and others for the first time to begin to think about how I could use my position as a Christian professor as a platform to have an impact for Christ on my campus and to reach out to students and colleagues. As I returned to the campus that fall, I started to reach out in small ways as an individual, using some of the approaches described in the previous section. But my background in industrial engineering convinced me that if I wanted to have the maximum impact possible, I would need to work cooperatively with other like-minded faculty and staff on the campus. In fact, the principle of synergy was so well ingrained in my thinking, I never even considered not working with others. The only questions I had were where? how?
Sometime during this timeframe, I met a young Christian professor in the Music Department named Paul Headwall, and we started meeting together weekly for lunch to pray for the campus and to talk about what we could do to have an impact for Christ. Shortly after Paul and I started meeting together, we were joined by Dave Masoner, a young professor in the College of Education. As we talked and strategized, it became obvious that we needed a leader, a point man; we needed someone visible as a Christian in the community and preferably a full professor. We were all new assistant professors. We floated our ideas by two men who met all of our criteria and that is exactly what happened -- the ideas floated right by them over their heads. It was clear to me that if we were going to initiate something among the Christian faculty and staff at the University of Alabama, I was going to have to be the person to get things going. So around 1972, I determined we were going to have a faculty/staff fellowship at the university if it was a fellowship of one -- me. I didn’t know exactly what form it would take; I didn’t know what we would do. I just knew we needed to be meeting together to pray, to encourage, and to discuss what we could do to make a difference.
It would have been terrific if we could have picked up the phone and called Christian Leadership Ministries and had them send out someone to tell us what to do and how to do it. Unfortunately, Christian Leadership Ministries did not exist at the time. So Paul, Dave, and I started meeting together on a regular basis. At first it was the three of us; then four; then six. We talked, we prayed, and through the years since then we have learned by experimentation. I wish I could say that we thought everything out in advance and then it was simply a matter of implementation. That is not what happened. We learned by trial and error. Things that worked, we remembered and continued to do. Things that didn’t work, we tried to forget and not repeat. Gradually over the years, we came up with some of the ideas and models I will be sharing with you in this section.
During this same timeframe, Walter Bradley was attempting to do much the same thing on his campuses, first at the Colorado School of Mines and later at Texas A&M University. In 1972, Peggy and I affiliated formally with Campus Crusade for Christ as associate staff members, and we saw Walter and Ann off and on through the years. Whenever we would get together, we would compare notes and return to our campuses determined to ramp things up to the next level. When Campus Crusade for Christ formed Christian Leadership Ministries in 1980, Walter and I were asked to speak at the first conferences the new ministry would host for faculty and university staff. Our first seminar was in Atlanta at an airport motel; we spent about 15 minutes planning for three hours of seminar time for the 70-80 people who were registered for the conference. In that first series of talks, we switched telling war stories about how we had tried to reach students and colleagues and things we had done with other university people to try to impact our campuses. It was all we knew at the time. Through the years, we have been joined by many others, and we have tried to be a bit more intentional and smarter at what we are doing, nevertheless; many of the ideas in this manual date back to those early days.
I have always viewed the Christian Faculty/Staff Fellowship as the crucial element in ministering together with others on campus. Everything else we do on campus that relates to corporate ministry flows naturally out of the fellowship. In this section, I want to describe the entire spectrum of faculty/staff ministry on a university campus. We’ll start with a detailed description of what the fellowship is and how to organize and sustain one. Then we’ll look at a number of activities that arise from the fellowship. Obviously your first task if you are considering initiating joint faculty/staff ministry on your campus is to establish a Christian Faculty/Staff Fellowship. I have not always known exactly how to do the fellowship, at least not in a way that was transferable. It has only been since leaving the University of Alabama and being able to objectively assess what we were doing there that I have been able to articulate the plan in a way that is transferable. Here is how you might go about starting things on your campus.
© Copyright 1997, Joseph McRae Mellichamp
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