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Deeper Conversations About Life September 1, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Communication, Evangelism, Trusting God.
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In a recent in house email to Cru staff, there was an article about a discussion guide for the recently released film, The Giver. If you’re not on that list, let me encourage you to read on for one way to have deeper conversations with those who may see life differently than you.

Just before The Giver debuted in mid-August, Larry Stephens, on the R&D team, set up a private screening at Full Sail University, a media arts school here in Orlando.

Over 170 students attended with many staying to participate in a discussion of the movie afterwards.

Larry and the R&D team had just developed the discussion guide as a way to engage in spiritual conversations after seeing the film.

Here is a cool video blog that Evelyn, a Full Sail student, posted about her experience with the movie and the discussion.

The Giver speaks to some of the big questions students are asking. Christians often answer these questions differently than others. Often we find ourselves at odds with them and unable to break through the Us/Them mentality in order to engage over some of these questions. Questions like:

  • What does it mean to love?
  • What if we could live without pain or war?
  • What is the value of a human life?
  • What is truth?

The discussion guide helps us do just that.

In a day, when our society is more fractured than ever before, when it is increasingly more difficult to have access on campus, and when Christians are often misunderstood, we want to engage others in natural ways and contribute to their understanding respectfully and courteously.

You can also FaceBook post to your friends who’ve seen the film to share their memories on www.tellthegiver.org.

Starting the ministry year. Part 2. August 25, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Coaching, Launching, Leadership, Student Ownership.
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Last week I mentioned four specific areas to get your student leaders up and running for the year. It’s great to see what students will do when we equip them, express confidence in them and then release them to trust God.

Here are four more things that will better position you to touch more students and faculty this year.

Articulate your vision of what God will do.

I love painting a picture of what God can do through someone else. Incidentally, you can do this over the phone or using Skype or FaceTime. I use the ministry leader critical path.

I have them draw out the diagram and then we discuss Vision, Critical Mass and the critical path steps of Prayer, Evangelism, Discipleship and Sending. I ask lots of questions about what God might do, what they are trusting God for and practical first steps. I make sure I mention reaching freshmen when talking about evangelism.

I would say that this is one of the most important skills you can develop as a leader.

Make sure your info is current on the infobase.
(For staff and interns in the US)

First, edit your profile so that the information is accurate. You are the only one who can do this and it only takes a minute. This is essential for anyone trying to reach you with a contact for a campus.

Then, check to see if your name is attached to the campuses you’re on and want to reach. Our ministry locators are in lots of visible places. Parents and friends do want their Christian students to get connected. If you are working on a campus and the ministry locator does not list a ministry there, the default is “Would you like to help us start a ministry?” Far fewer will contact us when they read that than when they read you are ministering there.

Direct and delegate rather than just do.

I started driving tractor at 4 1/2 and a truck at 9. By now I think I am fairly good at driving. When it came time to teach my sons to drive, no matter how much modeling and teaching I did, I finally had to get out of the driver seat and give them the wheel. They made some mistakes at first. And I had some white knuckle moments. But it was necessary.

We are developing leaders. They won’t/can’t lead if we continue to do so. A good starting place is Eric Swanson’s “The Art of Delegation“.

Decide where and when to launch.

If it’s in your calendar, it gets done. As a team, decide which campuses or communities you want to launch in and when. Three easy things to do.

The ideal time to pioneer is during the first six weeks of the semester. Students are the most open and available during this time. If you feel like you are taking time away from existing ministries, prepare your leaders the week before by saying that you will call them to talk through their responsibilities and answer any questions at that time. Begin to pray that God will use your time of pioneering on new campuses to help the students on your launched campus to grow as leaders.

I tried to focus here on developing your leadership. Leaders think strategically and with the big picture in mind. Together let us pray that God opens up the doors of effective ministry on more and more campuses and within more communities, so that more and more students can hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Starting the ministry year. Part 1. August 18, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Coaching, Evangelism, Leadership, Student Ownership.
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What a great time of the year! So much to do. So much promise of what God might do in our ministries. So many people to talk with. So many options. So where do I begin?

Let’s be practical as we get our ministries up and running. Our time is limited. The first week a freshman student is on campus is probably as important as all the rest of the first semester combined. This first week is when students determine who their friends will be and what they will value in college.

Who are your key student leaders in each of your movements? Coach them through each of these four areas. As they see God use them right out of the blocks, it will build their confidence for the rest of the year.

Growing vision of what God will do this year.

  1. Have each student in a leadership position read Transformational Community. This is what we are trusting God to do within every community on every campus.
  2. Here is a great article on Planning the Campus Year.
  3. Here is the very practical Nine Principles for the First Six Weeks.

Connecting with key players.

  1. Call each one on your student leadership team to see how their summer went. Inform them of the first meeting and what their individual responsibility is, and answer any questions they may have.
  2. Give your faculty advisor a call to inform him or her of the first events of the semester and to give them specific prayer requests.
  3. Check to make sure your meeting room is scheduled, any tables you would use for giveaways or surveys are reserved, and ads placed in the newspaper are ready to go. You want to make sure the details are covered.

Leadership team kickoff before freshmen arrive.

  1. Share your vision for the year.
  2. Have a devotion from, say Nehemiah 1, about the start of a great undertaking. Nehemiah is a great example of leading in both prayer and action.
  3. Inform them of the first few events and make sure that each responsibility is covered.
  4. Take extra time to pray for God to move, for new students to connect and for the impact you will make this year.
  5. Encourage everyone to be familiar with the Campus Ministry Year.

Planning your first outreach.

  1. If you plan some kind of info table or do a giveaway, decide when to assemble and the earliest time for distribution.
  2. If you will have an open house, a “cower” or pizza party, etc., make sure the right “people” people are greeting visitors to help them feel welcome. Have the opening talk be brief, visionary and welcoming.
  3. If you use a survey to find interested students, schedule the table or dining hall to take the surveys. Three easy to use surveys with transitions and nationwide tabulating tools can be found at QuEST Resources.
  4. Start right away with posters.

If you are outside the US, you may have your own unique way of beginning your campus year. If you have leaders on other campuses, why not forward this email to them, and schedule a time to talk through some of the details. It is a huge confidence booster whenever anyone takes on ownership and sees God use them. And it frees you up to prayer walk or do an info table on a campus that doesn’t have student leadership already in place.

Terminal vs. Relational Thinking August 14, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Discipleship, Leadership, Personal Growth.
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I sat in a room of executive directors recently. The question was asked. “What do you say when someone asks you what you do and why?” There were as many answers to that question as people around the table.

Most answers related in some way to our…

  • Vision, “We see a day when every student and…”
  • Purpose, “To glorify God by helping fulfill…”
  • Or Mission statement. “To build spiritual movements so that every…”

The discussion got me thinking about our day-to-day activities, those things that show up in our schedule.

It brought to mind the difference between relational and terminal thinking.

For example, is a frisbee golf event during O week an end in itself, or does it relate to our mission? We would all say it relates to our mission, but read on to see how our activities can become terminal.

Doug Hartman and Doug Sutherland wrote in a book that has been long since out of print, “A Guidebook to Discipleship”,

The person who has become a multiplying disciple thinks in a way which is not necessarily common to our particular culture or educational systems. He thinks in a “relational” manner rather than in a “terminal” style. “Relational” thinking is defined as the process of relating activities and knowledge to an objective. “Terminal” thinking is defined as the process whereby activity and knowledge are objectives and ends within themselves.    p. 31

Last week in my tip, I talked about soul care. I said, “I have often told students over the years that I care more about them than what they can do for us.”

That statement sounds terminal in thinking. We want to care for people right where they are, but we pray toward and try to see them for who they can become. They are intrinsically valuable to God, even if they do nothing. However, our desire is that they become all that God intends for them. And when they do, they will become men and women who will bear fruit, winning, building and sending others. With that in mind, soul care is relational thinking.

However, if your calling is to win, build and send, and you can no longer see them for who they can become, or if we consider that the obstacles in their growth are too great to overcome, then we can easily think that our care is an end in and of itself. That activity now becomes terminal.

As we begin this new campus year, consider how the events in your schedule relate to your ultimate objectives. Do those activities relate? You may need to make some hard choices and take them out of your schedule.

If you don’t already, let me invite you to subscribe to this blog. Or if you prefer, I send out a weekly email on Monday morning with a practical Coaching Tip. Email me and I will add you to my subscription list.

Caring for those we lead. August 11, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Leadership, Spirit-Filled Life.
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My wife and I lead the marriage preparation class in our church. Two young folks, each on the staff of our church in congregational services, are in the current class. Because much of their work happens during our class time, they didn’t think it would work to attend. Their bosses encouraged them to come.

I suggested that it showed their bosses cared more about them than what they can accomplish. They agreed. They indicated that because of that care, they wanted to be the best staff they could be.

It’s been said,
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”
You can, however, put salt in their hay!

I have often told students over the years that I care more about them than what they can do for us.

I was sitting in an elders’ meeting recently listening to two counselors, also elders, share about caring for our people. They said, “The vast majority of peoples’ needs can be met by someone who cares.”

In other words, people that we may think need a counselor simply need to be in a caring community. They called this “soul care” and they described it this way.

L- Love

  • Go to where they are.
  • Are you curious about where those feelings come from?
  • Feelings reveal reality. Explore feelings.
  • Feelings are driven by perspective. Perspective is driven by beliefs.

O- Offer yourself 

  • It’s easy to identify people by sin. But the New Testament refers to people as saints.
  • Requires vulnerability on our part.
  • Helping self-disclosure is healthy.

V- Validate.

  • Most of us want to vindicate.
  • We need to be about valuing others.
  • People need to feel safe.
  • Asking questions. “Tell me more about…”
  • Do we want to fix them more than we want to know them?

E- Encourage.

  • When we know the good, the bad and the ugly and still love them, that’s very encouraging to them.

There is so much more that can be said about soul care. And there is much to consider as we think about it in terms of Win, Build, Send. If you are interested in exploring more, there are free counseling courses available at Christiancourses.com.

This closes out my summer series of tips on being a better minister. Next week I begin another year of coaching tips on making win, build, send easier and extending our reach to more and more.

The Starfish and the Spider August 4, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Leadership.
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It’s August! Most of us are already gearing up for the start of the school year. In two weeks, I will transition these tips back to practical tips you can employ in your ministry. But before I do, I have a couple more thoughts about how we lead.

I read a fascinating book this summer, The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom. It had been on my reading list for years, but not on my bookshelf. Then when I found it at my favorite used book store, I grabbed it.

Spiders are top down. Sever the head and it dies. Starfish don’t have a top. Cut off an arm and it grows another back. Some can even grow a new body from the one arm severed.

Subtitled, “The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations”, the authors use examples like AA, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Skype, etc., to show how their members contribute to the prolific growth and overall success and direction in non-hierarchical organizations.

Such organizations stand on five legs.

  • Circles of members.
  • A catalyst.
  • A common ideology.
  • They utilize pre-existing networks.
  • They have a champion.

By their definition, Cru would be a hybrid of a Starfish and Spider organization. For example, we distribute ownership down and out and we have a compelling ideology (DNA of win, build, send). If you’ve been around a while like I have, you’ve seen us move back and forth on the centralized/decentralized continuum.

The book details how decentralized organizations benefited from the energy and expertise of its membership.

“In starfish organizations, knowledge is spread throughout the organization…The best knowledge is often at the fringe of the organization.

“Toyota understood this lesson and encouraged its assembly-line workers to innovate and make suggestions, since they knew better than anyone else what was actually happening on the line. IBM and Sun incorporated this lesson as well—they opened up their software and let engineers all over the world help make it better. Jimmy Wales understood that in some far corner of the world there was someone with unique knowledge about greyhounds, someone else who was an expert on South American history, and yet another person with frighteningly deep knowledge about Twinkies. Wikipedia allows them to share that knowledge.” P. 204

Most organizations tend to gravitate toward standardization and centralization. As they do, they cut off explosive growth and lose the creativity and energy of the distributed ownership.

When we were on campus, we made a point to gather existing and up-and-coming leaders before each semester to brainstorm together about what we could trust God for that semester.

How about you?

  • Do you give students and volunteers a say in the direction and activities of your ministry?
  • What events do you have planned where you can solicit their ideas and suggestions?
  • How do you decide whether to implement an idea that they come up with an idea that you might not prefer?

Tips in the “Better Minister” series:

- giving gifts,
use of words,
being inspiring,
power of vulnerability,
contagious emotion,
understanding connectors,
extending grace,
without fanfare,
ponder time, and
feel God’s pleasure.

When do you feel God’s Pleasure? July 28, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Prayer.
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Last week, I talked about taking time to consider what God is doing in and through us. We need to take time regularly. Ideally, some time each day, but more extended times when we are thinking back over longer time spans.

It seemed to strike a chord with folks. Two responded, offering further thoughts.

  • Jackie Connolly wrote to say that she has enjoyed reading Wayne Cordeiro’s “Leading on Empty” which encourages leaders to take time routinely – daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly—to reflect and consider the Lord and our lives.
  • Also Eric Hiett found a recent post by Michael Hyatt, 3 Reasons to Keep Your Laptop Closed This Weekend corresponded to taking ponder time.

Now when you are pondering, here is a line of thought you might want to consider sometime.

In the movie, Chariots of Fire, British Olympian, Eric Liddell says,
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.”

When do you feel God’s pleasure?

Over dinner one evening during our extended weekend with the family, I asked everyone that question.

My wife, Chris, explained that she needs to create. She sews. She is also an excellent creative host of events. Every time we do a celebration breakfast for our marriage prep class mentors, she has a different theme with different creative table centerpieces. The form may be different, but whether it’s a dress for our granddaughter, curtains in our home or the atmosphere of a meal, Chris thrives when she has the time and opportunity to create.

Others around the table shared how they felt God’s pleasure while learning and gaining understanding, after the satisfaction of hard work and enjoying the rest afterward, reflecting on God’s creation, and showing hospitality and developing community. Our daughter-in-law’s father said that it might sound cheesy, but it was during family times, and even more so as he sees other families around him breaking apart. Not cheesy at all!

How about you?
When do you feel God’s pleasure?
Are you able to connect the dots of the activities of your day, week or month to what God has made you to do?
Are you able to see the overarching trajectory of your life in terms of what God has for you?
Do you draw satisfaction from God’s call upon your life?

Proverbs. 23:7. “For as he thinks within himself, so is he.” NASB. The NKJV says it just a bit clearer “as he thinks in his heart.” There is that “thinking” again.

Like the old adage,
“Sow a thought, reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.”
It all begins with the right thinking.

When do you feel God’s pleasure?

Okay, so one more quote by Eric Liddell (at least as the movie told it!)
“You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It’s hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape – especially if you’ve go a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe your dinner’s burnt. Maybe you haven’t got a job. So who am I to say, “Believe, have faith,” in the face of life’s realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.” If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.”

Ponder Time July 21, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Personal Growth.
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I am writing this on an extended weekend with our family. Our three sons, two daughters-in-laws, and two grandkids are all together.

Sitting on the porch of this lake home, conversations have covered a range of topics. But one that we briefly touched on stood out—what helps us to slow down to take time to reflect.

I haven’t modeled this well for my family. I often bring work home with me. I do a lot of email during the evenings. I stay busy.

But in the midst of our busy lives, we need to take time to rest and reflect. Vacations, or small retreats like this one, are great. But, we also need to carve out times in our routine to reflect and consider how God is ordering the events in our lives.

Rick, our oldest, is on Cru staff. He’s married to a great woman, Christina, and together they have a girl and a boy. They love staff life. But one of the things Rick does in the midst of the busy life that it entails is to hunt.

The sport skipped a generation in my family. My dad and brothers do. And I used to hunt until I went away to college. But I never got back into the sport. Rick finds that sitting in a stand waiting for game helps him to pull away from the many things that vie for attention. He can set aside those distractions, disconnect from the busyness, and have time to reflect and consider.

For most of you reading this, your campus ministry will gear up in a big way in a month. Those first four to six weeks will be incredibly fast-paced and exhausting. This time of the year is so strategic as students are determining what they will give allegiance to during that time. You will want to make the most of that critical time of the year.

Are you getting time now, prior to the start of the campus year, to reflect, ponder, consider? Whether it is a bona fide vacation, or just snatches of time in the midst of your routine, you need to prioritize time to contemplate. Consider,

  • What is God doing in and through your life?
  • What is your unique contribution to the cause of Christ?
  • Are you equipped for that calling, not just with skills, but with the emotional fortitude for what God has for you?
  • Are you contemplating how the people in your life, the events and circumstances you are experiencing, along with your dreams and desires are being woven together by the Lord?

We’ll talk some more about this next week. But in the meantime…

Have a great week being a savory aroma of Christ.

Without Fanfare. July 14, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Character, Spirit-Filled Life.
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Several years ago, I officiated a wedding in historic Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. First, I was both nervous and excited to do the wedding. But, second, to perform the ceremony in such an auspicious chapel was something else.

If you don’t know anything about Loretto Chapel, it has a beautiful spiral staircase with as much legend as beauty surrounding it.

(From WorldAtlas.com.)

You can read for yourself about the staircase, the engineering behind it, and the circumstances of how it was built.

Part of the legend surrounds the mysterious carpenter. Supposedly, he disappeared before he was paid and attempts to find him were fruitless. Those who debunk the legend are silent about the anonymity of the carpenter.

It is an interesting story. But the point is, a man entered town, saw the need that the sisters had for a staircase in their chapel, and built it without pay or fanfare.

  • Do we do our work without fanfare?
  • Do we need to be recognized, affirmed, thanked, appreciated, or told how great we are?
  • Are we able to serve in obscurity, behind the scenes, content if only God sees?

As one whose first love language is “words of affirmation”, this is particularly hard for me. I enjoy the encouragement and affirmation of others. Maybe you do too.

As ministers of the Gospel, we are called upon to serve the Lord with our whole hearts. God is our audience, and we serve, work, and do “as unto Him”.

  • Consider today, do you want the words of praise from men more or those from the Lord.
  • Ask Him for contentment in whatever circumstance (Phil. 4:13) you find yourself, including whether or not you have people around you who appreciate you or not
  • Ask Him for the willingness to will and to do of His good pleasure, regardless.

Tips in the “Better Minister” series:

- giving gifts,
use of words,
being inspiring,
power of vulnerability,
contagious emotion,
understanding connectors, and
extending grace.


Bi- and Tri- Lingual Posters July 11, 2014

Posted by Gilbert Kingsley in Communication.
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It is the little things that make a huge difference.

Dan Allan, National Director of Operations Pacific Southwest Region, recently wrote me about an idea that I thought was really good. He suggested repeating the message in our posters and banners in two or three other languages frequently spoken on our particular campuses.

He got the idea by looking at posters on campuses in California and noticing sometimes five to eight different languages on some bulletin boards.

Dan suggested repeating the messages in the bottom couple inches of our signage. It need not take up that much room, but would have some distinct advantages for us.

  1. It would remind our involved students that we are mindful of international students and others whose first language is not English.
  2. It would be welcoming to those students and they might possibly see us a warm, caring option for involvement outside their own community.
  3. Incoming students might view us as progressive and inclusive of others as they see our information in multiple languages.

Now, we might need to be prepared to meet folks who don’t speak English. But, what a great way to expand our own vision and, possibly, form other contextualized groups and movements on our campuses.

In last week’s Coaching Tip, I referred to Henri Nouwen’s Return of the Prodigal Son. God is calling us to be like the father in the parable, extending grace to others. Using other languages spoken on our campuses in our signage could be one way for us to lead in being a welcoming community.


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