THE GRADUATES’ CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP (GCF)
WHAT IS GCF?
The GCF is a fellowship of Christian professionals who aspire to put their professional training and education to the fullest use in the service of Jesus Christ It is the counterpart of the 1VCF chapter in the campus. It is a fellowship of Christian graduates and professionals bound by a common vision to extend the kingdom of God in a complex professional world. Like the IVCF chapters in the campuses, GCF is committed to evangelism, discipleship and mission. While GCF members are mostly IVCF alumni, it extends fellowship to other Christian graduates.
THE PURPOSES OF GCF
As stated in its Constitution & By-Laws, the purposes of GCF are:
- To provide fellowship among Christian graduates and professionals through the establishment of network of friendship and caring communities.
- To help them maximize their contributions to the upliftment of their professions and the society.
- To encourage the formation of Christian homes that would serve as models in human relationships.
- To encourage and challenge members to actively participate in the life and mission of the church in extending the kingdom of God throughout the world.
- To stimulate personal evangelism among professionals and colleagues.
- To help the IVCF Philippines student ministry in every way possible.
- To help in the production of Christian literature.
- To help Christian professionals relate their work to their faith and to be effective witnesses in their field of work.
- To help new graduates during their transition from student to adult life particularly in respect to profession, local church and personal social life.
- To provide a continuing Christian education at an adult level through seminars, fora and publications relating faith to issues pertaining to one’s professional, family, church and citizenship responsibilities.
WHAT DO GRADUATES NEED?
1. Help in transitions
- from life as a student to life as a professional
- from a student Christian group and nearby church to a church in a new locality or to one’s home church
- from a close-knit small group to a church community with a larger age range
- from studying and exams to what may be a more routine workday load
2. Adjusting to new relationships
- SOCIALLY, to a different circle of friends, since most graduates move to a new community
- in the FAMILY, assisting parents financially, dating and marriage, birth of children, etc.
- WORKPLACE challenges, finding a position, relationship with superiors, learning how to supervise others, developing professional skills
- WORLD VIEW formation, including understanding a Christian perspective on one’s own professional ethical and moral standards; balancing work demands with family obligations; learning how to save, spend and give one’s money
- coming to terms with ONESELF, ambitions and aspirations and vulnerabilities; applying one’s faith in this new context
3. FINDING ONE’S CHRISTIAN CALLING-
- role in the local church and community
- developing and maintaining a rich devotional life
- response to a needy world
- witnessing for Christ in one’s profession
WHO SHOULD HELP GRADUATES?
1. The local church
Ideally the local church picks up the nurturing roles that the student fellowships have provided: Bible teaching, prayer groups, encouragement in witnessing, Christian fellowship and world view development.
However, it is not realistic to expect local churches in general to meet some special needs of graduates. For example, even more senior graduates while they are fully involved with church responsibilities and activities, sometimes feel that some of their intellectual needs are not met. Not all their professional training and other resources are utilized or further developed in the average church. In some cases, the graduate may be a
threat to the leadership of the local congregation and is kept at arms’ length because of his broader experience and education Or the opposite may happen: the graduate is overwhelmed with responsibilities heaped upon him in the church board, church school, choir, etc. lie is always expected to be giving out; rarely taking in. Where else can the graduate find a support system?
2. The graduates’ fellowship
A graduates’ fellowship can be an ideal supplement to the ministry of the church.
What can GCF offer?
- GCF members can serve as mentor-models to young graduates.
- In GCF you can be part of a united witness in the marketplace.
- GCF can offer you a continuing Christian education. While attending your local IVCF chapter you have learned many basic things about the Christian life and beliefs. But you’ll ask their significance in an entirely different context- the issues and temptations you are encountering as Christian graduates. You will also realize that you can not survive as a Christian by simply drawing from your past IVCF training. You will need continuing spiritual feeding. GCP provides a forum to help Christian graduates tackle issues they face from a biblical perspective.
- GCF can link you to a network of Christian friends.
- GCF unites Christian graduates to have an impact on society as they work towards nation-building.
Some Principles To Remember:
- View the graduate fellowship as a necessary supplement, rather than a distraction from local church work.
- Keep the graduate ministry specialized rather than general in nature
- Don’t duplicate what churches and other parachurch organizations are doing.
- Avoid holding regular fellowship meetings such as many graduates experienced weekly in (heir student fellowships. Integration into the local church will be delayed, and the meetings may grow stale over time.
- Keep the ministry service and project-oriented, concentrating on pooling the resources of members. Both graduates and those ministered to will benefit as the strengths and talents of members are used.
EXAMPLES OF PROJECTS FOR GRADUATES
1. Adult education
Conduct seminars/fora and courses to facilitate a continuing education for graduates. Subjects might include:
- Christian family life – marriage, parenthood, singleness, relating parents, etc.
- Issues of public interest – the economy, unemployment and retrenchment, brain drain, Christian political ethics, human rights, corruption & public accountability,etc.
- Christian leadership, church discipline, spiritual gifts, leadership qualities, etc.
- Personal issues – self-esteem, shyness, loneliness, anger, managing transitions,managing boundaries, etc.
- Professional life – work ethics, work relations, motivation, witness in theworkplace, etc.
- Papers prepared for and presented at seminars may be suitable for publication and reach a wider audience.
- Newsletters can also play a very useful role not only to keep members informed of activities but also to bring to their attention certain resources which can help them in their leadership role in church and society!
3. Study groups
Some subjects require further study. Small groups may be formed to pursue them and encouraged to come up with a report or paper, ‘this is especially vital in situations where little thinking has been done on key issues in our local context. It should be an important objective of a graduate group to encourage members to develop theological reflection on a range of important issues, (mention 1SACC)
4. Career expo
New graduates need help from those with experience in the various professions. Of special importance is (lie matter of work ethics and the difficult situations the new graduate should be prepared to face. For this purpose, it is useful to bring together experienced graduates and the newly-graduated as well as final year undergraduates for consultation, (e.g. IVCF-USA’s The Marketplace)
5. Christian arbitration
The Bible exhorts Christians to settle their differences between themselves rather man to immediately seek redress in a civil court. For instance, GCF Singapore has set up a Christian arbitration center to facilitate such an approach.
6. Financial fundings
- scholarships/loan funds for poorer undergraduates (e.g. TCP grads);
- staflworkers fund to enable them to attend trainings or regional conferences
- Philippian connection – adopt a staff; adopt a GT
- special fund-raising for campsite development
7. Graduate houses/ IV-Homes
Sometimes new graduates need accommodation while job hunting or when moving into anew job. Some have found it convenient and advantageous to pool together their resources and rent a house or apartment. A free stay is offered to new graduates until they find work. They then pay their way in and in turn help to meet the needs of others looking for employment. A graduate house or IV-Home can be a base for Christian ministry and
8. Inter-movement conferences
In (he IFES worldwide family, cross-cultural interactions are possible and desirable and are of mutual benefit. Inter-movement conferences are vehicles for mutual learning, encouragement, inspiration and friendship (e.g. EAGC).
9. Social programs
Graduate groups can readily provide a place for singles to meet and get acquainted. Although the local church may already provide such occasions, an occasional GCF-sponsored social evening or outing adds cross-denominational interactions. Graduate couples who open their homes provide a valuable ministry to single graduates. Interesting activities that appeal to graduates include watching a video together and then discussing personal responses.
10. Direct support to the student ministry
A good number of our graduates serve as Grad Team volunteers. They serve as assistant to the staff and they go to the campuses to speak, lead small groups, handle workshops & trainings, etc. Some help during camps and conferences as counselors, speakers, kitchen staff, etc. Donating books to IV-Homes or chapter libraries
11. Professional service
Graduates can share their professional expertise by offering professional services to the local churches or fulltime workers. Examples of these are: computer programmes for specific applications in church administration and ministry; training in bookkeeping or simple accounting for honorary treasurers or church secretaries; legal aid at reduced rates or free; editing and lay-outing for publications/newsletters.
12. Missions-related projects
Example: jail ministry; visit to orphanages or home for the aged; OS
A word of caution: Such projects should not be an end in themselves. The overall objective is to foster healthy relations, develop theological sense, and to conscientisize Christian professionals to feel with victims of injustice and do something about them. That is, to be salt and light in their world.
1. IFE3 Adminietry, Volume l,No. 17, 1989
2. The Graduate Ministry, an article by Mr. Goh Keat Peng, GCF Secretary, Malaysia, 1989
3. Help: I’ve Just Graduated, an article by Mr, Herman Moldez, GCF Secretary, Phil. 1 ’90
4. GCF Constitution and By-Laws