This past summer I had the privilege of interviewing Dan Dupee, President and CEO of the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO). The CCO, which has been recognized for ten years in a row as a Best Christian Workplace, hosts the annual Jubilee Conference which challenges students and professionals to consider how to integrate faith into their everyday lives.
The theme of this year’s conference is Everything Matters. David Kinnaman, author of You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church, will be among the speakers at this year’s conference. Jubilee will be held February 17-19, 2012, at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
Because Dupee’s story illustrates the kind of life-transforming impact the Jubilee conference has on those who attend, I thought I would include some excerpts from my interview with him here.
How did you first become connected with the CCO?
Through my brother who came to work for the CCO in 1974. He was a Christian; at that point I wasn’t. He worked for a college in western Pennsylvania—Thiel College. I had met some of the people he worked with and, during my freshman year of college, he sent me some stuff on something called the Jubilee Conference. I wish I could remember exactly why I wanted to go. It wasn’t that easy traveling from Ohio Wesleyan, but I found myself volunteering at Jubilee, registering people who had been shut out from their workshops; and I still wasn’t even a Christian.
At The Jubilee Conference I began to understand what was at the center of what it means to be a Christian. At Jubilee there was a speaker named Tom Skinner. Everything he said was formed in the context of the Kingdom of God. His contention was that Jesus had an agenda, and His agenda was the kingdom. He really blew away what I thought it meant to be a Christian—every idea: being a good person, or trying by our own efforts to be what God wanted.
I had competing ideas about the Kingdom. Jubilee was a coming together of things. I had grown up in church, enough to inoculate me, and needed to have the gospel defined.The things I saw the label Christianity being placed on didn’t connect with the experience I was having growing up.
What Tom Skinner developed was right out of scripture and compelling: The cost of the kingdom, total surrender, forgiveness, being made new. I still remember these words from Tom, describing the gospel:
Jesus Christ in you, living through you, with no help or assistance from you, because God doesn’t need your help to be God.
I’m just so grateful for that experience. I liked and trusted my brother, but I could have passed on going to Jubilee.
Tell me about the Jubilee conference.
Jubilee is a catalytic experience that really causes students to change. It opens students’ eyes to the breadth of the Kingdom of God.
As you look back on your involvement with the CCO over the years, what has been most surprising to you?
This is the kind of surprise you can live with. The whole world is a very different place than it was thirty years ago. In our world, in the United States entering the twenty-first century, there is not a Christian consensus. There is a lot of polarization between people of faith. We’re in a post-Christian phase.
The environment is very much like what existed in the Book of Acts. Given the way people are digging into their beliefs as adults, I’m surprised on a regular basis by the openness of college students to the gospel. There’s a thing happening on college campuses that is really surprising and really refreshing.
What’s the most important thing people should know about the ministry of the CCO?
If you can reach a college student with the gospel, with the message of the kingdom, you can change the world.
Everything Matters:The Jubilee conference and Jubilee Professional will be held February 17-19,2012 at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh. Approximately 3,000 college students from nearly 100 college campuses will be asked to consider the connection between faith and work.
Registration information for Jubilee
Registration information for Jubilee Professional(Those registering here for Jubilee Professional can also purchase, at a special rate, a weekend pass for the Jubilee Conference)