Most of us have heard of the battle of the Alamo. When it became clear that no relief was coming, Colonel Travis drew his line in the sand and demanded that those with him make the choice to stay and fight to the end to gain time for others to prepare a battle line and a plan to defeat the enemy, or to leave and take their chances sneaking through the enemy lines that surround the Mission fort and escape to safety. This was an either/or decision. No straddling of the line. If you stayed you fought to the end. If you didn’t fight, you didn’t stay. We also have an example of a line in the sand found in the gospels. Jesus said to His disciples “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me…”(John 14:21a NIV). Jesus doesn’t give any ground for the person who wants to straddle this line and claim that they fully love the Lord but will only allow some of His commands to define the boundaries of their life. Jesus is basically saying that if there is no desire to follow all His commands, the claim that one loves Him is meaningless. Again, this is an either/or decision that has to be made.
Our Accreditation Standards are like a line in the sand. The Standards represent a line that requires an either/or decision from the ministry that operates under the Teen Challenge name. I recently had a conversation with a director who felt that the Standards should be more flexible and not represent such a ridged line. This director went on to say that it was not always convenient or financially feasible to stay compliant with some of the Standards year after year. I responded that if we took that approach to our Standards, then they would cease to be Standards and become meaningless. National Standards represent a line which communicates to those outside Teen Challenge that no matter how difficult, inconvenient or expensive staying compliant to a Standard might be, as a Teen Challenge ministry, it is a line that is not compromised with. This helps build trust and confidence with those outside Teen Challenge that help and give to each ministry. An uncompromising commitment to the Standards will make a good name for Teen Challenge which benefits all. Compliance will also minimize liability because basic fiscal and personnel management is required. This is why compliance is an essential part of the affiliation agreement with Teen Challenge USA that authorizes the use of the Teen Challenge name. So there is really no middle ground. For the benefit of all, choosing to be compliant with some of the Standards and not compliant with others can never be an option. It is an either/or decision: a line in the sand!