A new 31 Day Experiment.

My friend, Mark Michal, has been on the high school team in Indianapolis for fifteen years. That experience, along with his ability to communicate Biblical truth, were key in developing the Thrive Studies. Thrive is the follow up material and small group content for teenagers that students and volunteers can easily lead. They are very well done.

Mark and his team recently put together a Cru 31 Day Experiment. Complete with videos covering a passage each day, a promo video, flyers, and ways to connect with others participating, it is a great way to help students get into the Word and help them develop a habit of Bible reading.

Mark told me that we staff do a great job of communicating truth. But students often need help in building a habit of time in the Scriptures. The value of this experiment is the communal aspect of reading, learning, and sharing together. Taking ten minutes in a passage, five minutes praying, and five minutes sharing with others helps to reinforce the habit and enhance personal growth.

This Cru 31 Day Experiment begins today, Monday, January 23rd and goes through February 22nd.

Check out thrivestudies.com/cru31day and sign up on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM at @CRU31DAY.

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

Select Next Year’s Leadership Now.

You’re kidding, right?! Now?!

Why would we select next year’s leadership with most of a semester left?

If you have leaders graduating this Spring, here are some things to consider.

Selection

Take time to think through those who already demonstrate spiritual leadership. Such leadership does not happen just by showing up or having a great personality. Leaders are developed. That happens as you delegate responsibility and watch how they bring their own vision and faith to the task. One way to make this more concrete is by considering the Visibility/Risk grid. Leadership naturally involves both increasing risk and increasing visibility.

I was recently voted in as chairman of a board. Leading up to that time, I watched the previous chairman closely and met with him for perspective and his input. When someone knows that they will be in leadership, they pay more attention to how the current leadership operates, knowing that it will be them leading in time.

If the actual transition of leadership can occur before the old leadership leaves the campus, I don’t think there is anyone better to cheer on and encourage that new leadership, as well as to offer help if they stumble, than those who just handed it off. They have a vested interest in the new team’s success. Leadership development and selection must be intentional.

Delegation

One concern about turning responsibility over to new leadership is their readiness. In general, I believe we wait too long before giving responsibility to others. Yes, there are qualifications necessary for leadership. But often we neglect how much the new leader must trust God themselves. The faith factor is necessary for growth. Nearly everyone feels inadequate when they first step into a leadership position. What better place to be than to really have to trust God for wisdom and direction.

Eric Swanson’s excellent article on The Art of Delegation, offers some simple steps in delegating responsibility:

  • Decide what needs to be done.
  • Select the best person for the job. Let him/her know you believe he/she can do it. Trust is one of the highest forms of motivation.
  • Clarify and agree upon the desired result and deadline. Major on what, not how—results, not methods.
  • Define guidelines and potential pitfalls. Let him/her learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.
  • Establish level of authority, accountability, and method of evaluation.
  • Identify resources—financial, human, technical, and organizational resources that he/she can draw from.
  • Establish consequences.

Transition

We typically wait until the end of the year to hand off leadership. Those new leaders wait until next August to begin leading. That can be a rather difficult handicap to overcome given the spiritually challenging summers for many. Why not install them as leaders early in the spring when the example of the present team is still fresh in their minds. The old leadership can be there to encourage and answer questions.

Also, August is typically a high risk, high visibility time for the ministry. It is when you want your ministries to be firing on all cylinders. You want to hit the ground running in order to take advantage of that once a year opportunity of connecting with as many incoming freshman as possible. Why not use the Spring semester to help the new team function together and develop the plans that they will implement in August.

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

A Staff Team Pioneering a New Campus Together

Last November, my son, Rick, MTL at Florida State University, told me that their team wanted to visit Valdosta State to see about launching a movement there. Could I send him some suggestions? What follows is a generic version of what I sent him.

Before the campus visit.

  • Pray. Ask God for divine connections.
  • Some virtual decoding. Purpose: Decide initial first steps in finding potential Key Leaders.
    • Look at info on Petersons.com
      • This looks at all campuses through the same criteria.
    • Read info on the campus’s own website.
  • Attempt to find interested students/faculty to meet with on the day of your visit.
    • Contact churches and ask if they have students/faculty that attend?
    • Ask Cru MTLs to ask their students if they have friends who attend and might be interested in Cru.
    • Ask long-term staff if they know of alumni who have moved nearby or work there.
    • Ask Faculty Commons staff if they have faculty connections there.
    • Ask our high school staff if they have alumni there.
    • Schedule meetings with any who surface to cast vision for launching Cru there.
  • Determine if you will do a table for give-aways/ informational/surveys, Soularium, etc. Schedule times for manning the table.
  • Determine the resources you will need. You are going to want to give students an opportunity to continue checking out and receiving input after you leave. This is the God factor.
  • Determine meeting places and prayer walks.
  • Schedule a campus tour. Who knows? Maybe the student conducting would be interested or knows someone.

The day of the visit.

  • Prayer Walk the campus.
  • Take a campus tour.
  • Do evangelism.
  • Meet with anyone with whom you have appointments—Faculty, Cru alumni, students, potential volunteers, etc.
  • If you intend to do a give-away/informational table/surveys, Soularium, etc., plan to divide up folks so that everyone has an opportunity to be at the table, but also has a variety of experiences throughout the day.

Following up the visit.

  • Determine if there is someone on the team that had a meaningful connection with someone that day, has the desire to stay in touch, and has capacity.
    • If there is someone, have them call all the interested students back within the next few days.
      • The Student LINC team can give training on first steps to help the students launch.
    • If there is no one able to coach the campus, collect the names of the most likely students to launch and email that info to the Student LINC team launch specialist. Brian.Hudkins@cru.org.
  • Determine the extent and frequency of connection your team wants to have with the school going forward.
  • It is certainly permissible to hand over to Student LINC all responsibility, but we would be glad to equip you if you would like to retain it.

Staff generally enjoy doing ministry together. Pioneering can be a great staff team building event. It allows everyone with different gifts and interests to have a part and offers the potential of seeing a successful launch with far-reaching impact.

All good things start (again) with Jesus.

I was given True North: Christ, the Gospel, and Creation Care by Mark Liederbach and Seth Bible for Christmas. With several friends passionate about creation care and the environment, I dove into it. It has been a very engaging read…but not for the reasons you might think.

The authors set out to show why Christians could actually have a better ethic for calling all of creation back to its original purpose of glorifying God because we ourselves have been brought back into a right relationship with our Creator.

Much of the book establishes that humankind was created to glorify God, has fallen (not just spiritually, but in every way), that Jesus Christ is Lord and Redeemer, and has imparted to us new life and new purposes. It’s good theology.

“In Rom 8:1-17, Paul stresses that through his redeeming and atoning work, Christ broke the power of sin and death. Therefore, for those who are in Christ ‘the era of bondage to sin has ceased’ [from Thomas Schreiner, “Romans”, 430]. In addition, Paul tells us that those who are redeemed by Christ also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who indwells them and gives them life and strength (Rom 8:9,13). It is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that believers are no longer bound to follow after the sin nature they inherited from Adam. Instead…they are also free from the domination of inherent sinful life patterns and choices. Indeed, Rom 8:15 tells us that because of the work of Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit bears witness to us that we are now “adopted” as sons of God into the lineage of Christ, the Second Adam. All these truths… establish the baseline by which believers can now be restored into the intended purpose for which they were created…[In] and through these redeemed image bearers, the rest of creation can be called back to its created purpose and be rightly ordered or “reconciled” to God (Col 1:20).” Pp. 100-103.

While Liederbach and Bible are making a case for creation care, these truths easily extend to

  • redeeming our relationships in every sphere (in our family, with our neighbors and co-workers, and even those with whom we disagree),
  • social justice,
  • care for the unborn and those who unable to care for themselves,
  • the creative arts,
  • our political involvement, etc.

“Put another way, human beings are most fully human when they are both rightly aligned with the reason for which they were created and when they are rightly fulfilling the task for which they have been created…when they personally glorify God and seek to have the entire created order give maximum praise and honor to God.” P. 104.

In the main, the authors are calling us to evangelism and discipleship. “As God gave a great commission in Gen 1:28 to fill the earth with image bearers and subdue and rule the earth in such a way that it would bring maximum glory to him, so also does he now give a great commission to all believers to ‘Go’ and ‘make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’ (Matt 28:18-20). The task is the same: fill the earth with worshippers who will maximize the glory of God in their environment—all the earth!” P. 104.

You will encounter students as you minister who are passionate about a great many things. That passion will only find it’s proper focus when oriented toward Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

In this new year, I want to help us all “fill the earth with ‘image bearers’ ”. I hope to pass along tips that will make ministry easier, extend our reach, and as a result engage more students and faculty. Look for one next week about involving a whole staff team in launching a new campus ministry.

Fall 2016 Coaching Tips

Key Volunteer Challenge

This is about being a spiritual multiplier.

This is something I could share with just about every Christian I meet and be excited about it.

This is easy.

You bring the principles of Matthew 28:18-20 and 2 Timothy 2:2 together and ask your friend to screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-12-24-12-pmmake a difference on his or her campus or community. And all you need is a sheet of paper and a Bible.

Let me encourage you to watch this four minute Key Volunteer Challenge video and consider who you might share this vision.

If you happen to talk with someone who accepts the challene, you can coach them yourself from a distance, or you could send them to Want to Start a Ministry. It will take 5 to 10 minutes for them to read through these brief pages. There is a way to contact us on each page.

Fall 2016 Coaching Tips

Christmas Break: Preparing for a Lifetime.

Something like 1 out of 10 students in our ministry join us as interns, stint-ers, or staff after graduation. So that means what students experience over the Christmas break will more approximate what 9 out of 10 will find life and ministry like when they leave us.

How well are we preparing the large majority of our students for ministry after ministry?

Ministry on campus isn’t typical of what they find in the working world. If a freshman, eager to learn how to share her faith, can’t find others interested in her dorm, she can get experience sharing in other dorms. Our principle of “sowing broadly” makes it possible to train hundreds of students every year to share their faith, follow up new believers, and disciple others.

But what if the only ones interested in spiritual things are nerdy uncle Al and senile great-aunt Mabel? Do we just stop there and assume everyone else is not interested? How do we engage everyone else regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey?

I’ve talked about The Missional Map before. It could be really helpful in understanding where people that we spend time with are in their spiritual journey.

In addition, here are four simple ideas for you and your students to try when you are home over the holidays. They are not original with me.

1. Make a Top 10 list of those you would like to have a spiritual conversation with during your break. Put the list in your Bible. Pray everyday for God to open the door to a conversation. Here are some things to pray for the lost.

2. Ask “How can I pray for you?” If appropriate, follow up with “Can I pray for you right now?” Some time ago, I was having lunch with a friend. We had been talking about ministry. After saying good-by in the parking lot, a complete stranger, who had been sitting near enough to us to hear our conversation, came up to me and told me some struggles he was going through. I asked if I could pray for him right there in that parking lot. He was so appreciative. We have no idea how much others appreciate hearing prayers on their behalf.

3. Ask a “Sometime” question. For example, “Sometime, I’d like to hear about your spiritual journey…Would you be up for that?” (From “Sometime—An Overview and Guide“)

4. When you do have a spiritual conversation, here are some questions. (From “Explorer: Discovering Spiritual Journeys.”)

  • What would you say is most important to you in life right now?
  • How important is the spiritual area of life to you currently?
  • What have you tried in your spiritual journey?
  • How has your search left you feeling?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (1-low and 10-high), how strong is your desire to know God in a personal way?

I hope these open up doors of conversation. I would also like to hear what you find useful in training others in evangelism in a high relational, small audience context. Feel free to write me and let me know what’s helpful.

I’ll be taking a break. This is the last coaching tip until January 9.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Fall 2016 Coaching Tips

December checklist.

If you’re like me, you have a ton going on right now. I’m writing this in an airport on Saturday, in between two four day-long meetings. I’m watching my own to-do list grow.

Recruiting is still in full swing for the Winter conference. You might be thinking about Christmas outreaches and how to end the semester well. You know you need to think about the spring semester, Spring Break opportunities and you’re encouraging your students to ask parents over break about going on a summer mission. Oh, and you probably are working on your end-of-the-year ask, doing Christmas cards, and some shopping and parties…Gotta do the parties!

If you are trying to remember all you have to do, maybe this checklist will help.

Winter Conference.

  • Keep encouraging people to attend.
  • Help with fund raising.
  • Arrange rides.
  • Exchange email and cell phone numbers.
  • Finalize plans.

Summer Mission Opportunities.

End the semester well.

  • Christmas party. Invite International Students. It’s a great way for them to learn about this holiday.
  • Take the time to praise God for what He has done this semester.
  • Gather movement indicators and enter them.

Review plans for the Spring semester.

  • Try to reserve the same room you met in this fall for consistency.
  • Reserve a place and the time during the first week of classes to do a campus wide survey.
  • Print off posters and flyers to advertise your weekly meetings.
  • Consider an evangelistic event each month.
  • Replace leaders graduating with new ones.

Prepare students to have a regular devotionals and prayer times during the break.  

That last one is really important. You will want to prepare your students for the break and their time home. The advent season can be a very worshipful and celebratory time and a great way to have gospel conversations with friends and family as we focus on the Christ’s coming on our behalf. But it can also be a time of letdown for many students if they go home to the rush-rush or less than favorable family situations. For all of us, the time spent in the Word is vital.

Fall 2016 Coaching Tips