By: Greg Barnes, Director of Alumni Engagement
Now 40+ years ago, as a Baylor Freshman, I encountered a book by Elton Trueblood (The Company of the Committed, Harper & Row 1961) that rocked my world then and resonates still today as a guide for the missional aspirations of our Halftime Nation. Trueblood, a noted 20th-century American Quaker and accomplished author and theologian, was a former chaplain both to Harvard and Stanford Universities. ”Millions are only back-pew Christians”, Dr. Trueblood declared. “What is needed is a task force of committed men and women who truly care for God, for the church, and for other people. Such a ‘valiant band for Christ’ would revitalize the church and transform society.”
This was the vision of Bob Buford, as well. When the Halftime Institute was founded in the early 90’s, it was Bob’s desire to “activate the latent energy in the American church” that animated the Halftime movement.
Trueblood offered five crucial identifiers of this valiant band for Christ, beginning with an “attitude of commitment“. “One way of stating the crucial difference between belief and commitment is to say that when commitment occurs there is attached to belief an ‘existential index’… If we have any knowledge of human nature, we begin by rejecting the arrogance of self-sufficiency.” Halftime Nation’s life-long commitment to knowing and being known by God and to our displacing self-sufficiency with mutual support, collective fellowship and mission collaboration defines our commitment to moving from success to significance to surrender.
Second, is “the call to enlistment.” This means we are to accept and embrace a deeper dialogue with God – clarifying our core passion(s) and leaning into the way God has wired each of us to care about particular needs or causes that align with the life experiences God has allowed for each of us. We talk about creating “margin” in the Halftime journey and a primary focus of this additional margin is to clarify the difference between being busy and living out a true calling to something that God has prepared in advance for us to do. If we are enlisted in God’s kingdom, we need to dwell in His Word. This is a time in our lives when we need to set a time just to be with God, make eye-contact with Him and get our unique Ephesians 2:10 calling.
“The vocation of witness” is Elton Trueblood’s third idea. Bob Buford calls this “don’t duck witnessing.” In other words, we see ourselves in the Halftime Company of the Committed as called to share what we know for sure, from our own experience. When we are asked why we are making the life choices we are making, or investing our resources in things that are counter-intuitive to our society’s “up-and-to-the-right” fixation, we stand and deliver regarding our clear-eyed choice to “Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” (Philippians 4:8 Living Bible)
The fourth idea Trueblood shared is the principal of “strategic penetration.” Halftime’s Company of the Committed reflects this principle in agreeing that the church building should be seen as a drill hall where Christians are trained in techniques to make a difference in the secular world. Our collective marketplace skills and understanding of sustainable, measurable systems can enable and empower intentional for-profit companies and faith-based ministry organizations to overachieve their daring Kingdom objectives.
“The criterion of validity” is the way Trueblood expressed his fifth principle. The Halftime Company of the Committed authentically discover that love in action redeems society. Measuring these outcomes and marking the milestones along the way is both a means of validating the Halftimer’s impact and celebrating the favor that God pours out on the efforts of those who “worship him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
Halftime Nation, we are blessed to fellowship together and to serve together. Thank you for all you are doing to follow God’s second-half calling in your lives. Let’s consider all the ways we might “spur each other on to acts of love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). As the “University for Your Second Half” we want to continue to help equip and enable you for Kingdom impact. Please let us hear from you about how we can serve you more fully.