What are the aims of C-A-N- conferences?
To link conferences to strategy we need to remind ourselves of the two aims of C-A-N-.
To encourage the integration of Christian faith into academic life
To support and equip all university and college staff as witnesses for Christ in the workplace
So the conference strategy is to provide routes to achieve these two aims. And the question is, what resources can we bring to bear?
As the name suggests, the key resource is a network of Christian academics. Yet, what does it take to create a network? One answer is a shared email system. Yet, research from the field of entrepreneurship suggests that face-to-face contact is vital for the transmission of passion. It is necessary for the development of trust. For this network to become a net that works passion and trust are two vital connectors.
What degree of change is needed to achieve the twin aims of C-A-N-?
How well integrated is Christian faith in academic life? How well equipped do staff feel to engage as witnesses for Christ in the workplace? How much change is required for these aims to be met? How much innovation is needed? How much pioneering? How might innovativeness be encouraged, modelled and practised? How can pioneers be found, or developed?
What will it take to change things?
If we conclude that academic life is not sufficiently suffused with the Christian faith, and academics generally do not know how to ‘think Christianly about their subject’ or to differentiate themselves from their non or not yet Christian colleagues, or are not integrated as Christians with responsibilities in the church, the home and at work (to mention just three possible spheres of callings), what will it take to change things?
- Anointing of the Holy Spirit
- Calling of individuals with a passion for the aims of C-A-N-
- Trusting groups of people working together to bring Christ into academe, discipline or sub-discipline by discipline/sub-discipline
- Fervent, persevering prayer
Therefore, we need to pray at the beginning for God’s presence and blessing of our endeavours. We need to facilitate the impassioned innovation of integrating Christian faith into academia; we need to provide for the development of tasks committed to trusted groups of individuals who, in turn, know and trust one another; in turn this may engage and link those academics who are writing Christianly, but often in isolation; finally we need to persevere in prayer for the project.
Gatherings together in real-time to provide face-to-face contact can give the visual connections necessary to build an on-line community which will commit itself to regular work and prayer to achieve the two aims.
To what agenda should gatherings of C-A-N- work?
To show God we are serious about wanting to bring him glory “in the academic community of the UK” by being able “to proclaim the gospel or good news of Jesus Christ” (direct quotations from C-A-N-’s vision statement) we should create an agenda of
- praying and worshipping as an academic community
- firing up passion
- providing an environment of developing trust from knowledge and shared commitment to the task
- showing what integration looks like at the general level and at the discipline/sub-discipline level
- devising tasks to be carried out by passionate, trusted groups of academics
- providing support to the knowledge infrastructure to integrate faith into academic life
Proposals for conferences
- These conferences should provide:
- an opportunity for members to meet up;
- time to get to know one another;
- time to pray and worship God together
- tasks to be tackled together
- tasks to be tackled on-line through the year