Learnings about movement-making in Chi Alpha

by Patrick Tan

This week I was asked to share the morning devotion. I thought of a few topics that I could share, but as I prepare my exhortation, one message became clear. I felt that I need to share my learnings about serving in Chi Alpha Philippines. The following message was given to youth leaders last National Youth Leaders Summit of PGCAG on January 29, 2014.

This year is my 10th year serving in youth ministry as a youth minister. And I still remember in April 2004, fresh from graduating in UST architecture that I was struggling about my calling. I was 22 years old at that time. I found myself going up to Baguio to go to AIYS (Asian Institute for Youth Studies, 2nd batch). I took up Institute of Campus Ministry, not knowing what I was in for, because I always wanted to try something new (I’ve been serving in the youth leadership for some years now, but not as youth pastor). There I met Kuya Sur, Ate Merla, Ate Afel, and Brian Lopez. And as they say, the rest was history. I received confirmation from God to be minister of the gospel. Never did I know that was the beginning of my journey in serving in Chi Alpha.

God gives each person a window of opportunity to fulfill what he was made for, not to bring glory to himself, but to God. We often call it now as a “kairos moment” or a time of opportunity. In the Bible, God invites ordinary people to take part in doing something extraordinary for God. I remember when Esther found herself in her make or break situation, God spoke through her uncle Mordecai saying, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) And like Esther, you are here because God raised you up to do something special for Him in this season. The question would you be bold enough to take that window of opportunity to be used by God for His greater glory. Would you be faithful to take the movement to the next generation?

Here are five things I’ve learned about movement-making as I served in Chi Alpha. This is not an exhaustive list, it may also be incomplete, but these are some principles that could help someone who are serving in movements.

“Sell” a compelling vision

Jesus didn’t just recruit his disciples just to be part of a fan club, He had a compelling vision, a vision of God’s kingdom, at which He was even willing to die for it. And it drew His disciples to Him. He was never ashamed to demand others to sacrifice for the cause, because He is fully convinced that His cause has an impact for eternity (Mt. 16:24). Even Paul himself was compelled to preach the gospel even in the midst of suffering (Eph 6:19-20).

I always believe that one of Chi Alpha’s greater strengths is a very powerful and compelling vision. The vision statement captures the heart of what we do. “We are a movement of multiplying disciples, reconciling students to Christ, transforming the family, the campus, the marketplace and the World.” And it’s not the statement itself that is powerful. The vision of students encountering Christ, transforming the World, is a cause worth giving your life to.

Before you “sell” the vision, you yourself must first

be sold out to the vision.

The word “selling” may offend some of you. What I only mean is you must have a compelling vision. And before you “sell” the vision, you yourself must first be sold out to the vision. I’m not a very good salesperson, that’s why networking stuff (a popular product investment scheme) don’t work for me. I remembering my friends would recruit me to be part of a networking of some product. I think I’m too honest to tell someone if something is worth it or not. But a compelling vision is what motivates me to go out of my comfort zone and tell others about it. Students encountering Christ, transforming the World.


Bring it down then take them up

I remember the song that said, “You did not wait for me, to draw near to You, but you clothe yourself with frail humanity. You didn’t wait for me to cry out to You, but you let me hear your voice calling me.” Jesus didn’t wait for us to come to Him (Gal 4:4-5), because it was impossible for us to take ourselves up to Him. Instead, He came down and so that He can take us up.

Our first Chi Alpha Leadership Training (XALT) in Palawan.

In order to start a movement, you got to go where the people are. I remember when our national youth director Ptr Sur commissioned us to take the lead of National Chi Alpha in 2009. It was just me, my wife and Ate Merla. And we had this crazy idea (before then we had national student trainings in one place, that was usually Tagaytay), “What if this time, instead of calling them all in one place, why not go there and do the training there.” At the back of my mind this is good because I get to travel. And the first place who was willing to take us was Ate Esther, the DYD of Palawan DC at that time. And at that time, there was no money (unlike now), we had to raise our own expenses to go to Palawan. You know you have a compelling vision if you are willing to put your money into it! We raised our money, hopped on a plane to Puerto Princesa and did our first XALT (Chi Alpha Leadership Training) in Evangel Bible Institute. And guess who came, leaders not only from the city, but from Rio Tuba (Southernmost part of Palawan), from the islands (Coron) and even from the tribal people of the mountains.

On that day, I learned a lesson, in order to reach more, you must go to them. Don’t let a person’s inability to go where you are keep them from being empowered. As leaders duly appointed by our leaders, we must know the cause and the cost of our job. You must be willing to go where your “customers” are. In order to start a movement, you got to bring the vision down. And when you bring the vision down, lead them to go up with you.


Make the message transferable

Jesus didn’t only have a compelling vision, but he had a message so compact that you can pass it from one person to the other. He had a vehicle from which to send it. Jesus’ message was the gospel, His method was discipleship (Mt 28:19-20). And when a message becomes transferable, the message becomes viral.

Our tools went to the hands of the people we are serving.

As we continue to serve in Chi Alpha, we began to think how we can make our message transferable, that even a student can do it. The criteria were: (1) It should be accessible, (2) It should be duplicate-able, and (3) It should be free or at least, cheap. And that’s where the tools came up, each tool talked about how to be saved, how to grow in your relationship with Christ, how to pray, and how to win others. It was cheap, it was easy to reproduce and it was available online.

In order to preserve the message, you have to make the message transferable. Here are some ways to make it transferable:

Document it – Ravi Zacharias in the Lotus and the Cross talks about the advantage of the written Word against the ever-changing principles of Buddhism. To keep the message pure, it must be written down. (XALT Manuals, SIM were written down so that it can be passed around).

Brand it (Package it) – Tell the message in a creative and relevant way without blurring it and watering the message down. Streamline it by removing unnecessary clutter around the vision. (Discipleship, DGroups)

Talk about it – John Maxwell says, “What gets talked about gets done.” (Training, promotion etc)


Get your hands dirty

Even when Jesus have sent His disciples in behalf of him, he continued to minister to the crowds. He didn’t Lord it over, but he continued to serve. He practiced what He preached.

If we want to stay relevant with the movement, we must be willing to get our hands dirty. Remember David, when God gave him an army, and the Bible said that when it was a season of wars, but David stayed behind (2 Samuel 11). And we know the rest of the story; David had a lapse of judgment. The point is If you want a sharp sword, don’t skip the war. If we want to keep ourselves compelled to the vision, we must be at the center of the action.

Our first semester in Chi Alpha University Belt

After serving a year in the national, I felt the need to continually practicing what I was teaching. And praying for God’s direction, God led us to pray for University Belt. And it was during that time of seeking God’s direction that God himself opened up a way to be part of the UBelt ministry. And today, we continue to serve Ubelt for 4 semesters now. And it is in my personal ministry that I get to apply and test what I’m teaching when I’m training to see it really works. We must first be the student of our own message.


Empower then entrust

Many people love Steve Jobs. They loved him for his Apple inventions. Everyone anticipated what he has up his sleeve every year. People line up to buy his products. But in October 2011, he suddenly died, almost shocking the public. Analysts waited if Apple will hold up even if Steve Job is no more. Then it happened. Apple’s rapport as the one who is always ahead started to fall back. They get overrun by competitors such as Samsung (I’m saying this not because my phone is Samsung, or I like Samsung). It became very clear, Apple’s success run on just one man, and it was Steve Jobs, and when he died, he took it down with him.

Jesus died, rose again, and went to heaven. The Pharisees anticipated the fall of Jesus’ movement. But it didn’t happen, it continued to grow, no matter how they try to pacify and persecute them, because Jesus empowered His disciples and at the right time He entrusted the message to them. In Acts it was said that when Peter and John were taken before the Sanhedrin, they knew that there was something different about this two guys, they were with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

Local church pastors with one of our XALT training team

down south. They don’t need me anymore.

You have to realize that a movement begins when you let go of it. There was a point in time when we realized that this ministry has gone beyond us. When we would see the people who came to XALT training, applying what they learned, returned to their place and passed on what they’ve learned to the students. You have to learn to trust your disciples.

Andy Stanley said, “It’s not what you do, it’s who you raise.” Sometimes we get so focused on just what we’re doing without thinking that God can take us anytime. Who then will continue the work that you’ve started. It’s not what you do, it’s who you raise. For a movement to continue, you must continually empower the next generation, and when you have empowered them, entrust to them the task so that they can take it further.
I pray that this principles that helped me will help you as well as you serve the Lord through the movement He has tasked you to serve.



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