Essay / Culture

Rally and Radiate

Here’s a diagram (click through it to view a larger version) that the founders of Biola kept close at hand when they needed to explain the variety of activities the early Bible Institute was engaged in.

It’s a scratchy copy, and the graphic design isn’t great even by 1910 standards. But the message is exactly what a Christian institution ought to bear in mind.

The main text at the top and bottom says “for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose we are and whom we serve,” and the supporting text says “we train men and women for all kinds of Christian work.”

But the big idea in this diagram is the two circles, one labelled Rallying Center, and the other labelled Radiating Center. They are connected by the cross. Around the Rallying Center are arranged a host of training and fellowship opportunities: Daily Prayer, Best Books, Daily Bible Classes, the Lyceum Club for Young Women and the Fisherman’s Club for Young Men. These are the things that Christians from local churches could expect to find at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (which, by the way, hadn’t moved into its own building yet at this point, but was already thinking of itself as a gathering place). They could come to the heart of Los Angeles and get built up by teaching and ministry.

The Radiating Center, however, is the same size and is directly connected. Around that center is an array of ministry projects: Evangelistic Work, Spanish Work, Out of Doors Work, Jewish Work, Shop Work, Bible Women’s Work, Oil Field Work, Foreign Work, etc.  It’s obvious that wherever Biola identified a need, they appointed a ministry to meet the need.

And the Rallying Center and the Radiating Center are one. They both have the name of the school written at the center. The point is obvious: you can’t have one without the other. If you gather spiritual and educational resources into a gigantic pile and just edify the daylights out of everyone, you get a stockpile of hoarded privilege. But if you send out workers who have not been trained or cared for, you burn out the workers and have nothing to offer the world. (This reminds me of an old Major Ian Thomas line: “How shall they preach if they are not called? Pretty poorly, I can tell you.”)

You have to rally and radiate from the same center. It’s a heartbeat, the systole and diastole of life in the Lord Jesus Christ, “whose we are” (rallying) and “whom we serve” (radiating). You should never have to choose between the two: the more resources you rally together, the more powerfully you will radiate outwards. The more powerfully you radiate outwards, the more you can draw in the resources and become a source of blessing.

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