Category Archives: Communication

CoJourneying with a Wider Audience

You’ve probably seen this Journey Grid before. It’s a construct that helps us understand where someone is on their spiritual journey. The X-axis shows the Scale of Belief and the  29354772_557753214597459_7082904714142011143_oY-axis the level of benefit they’ve received from Cru. You know someone in every audience.

Most of us tend to focus our work on the C, D, G, and H Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 11.22.03 AMaudiences. But if you are like me, you often wonder how we could do more with those who would assign themselves to the lower and left parts of the grid.

I’ve come to realize that the answer isn’t what could I do, but, rather, what could we do?

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 11.32.11 AMWe actually have a team in Cru who specifically thinks about helping us help others progress to where they want to go spiritually. It is called our Cru Concierge. I can see skepticism right now as you’re reading these words! But, here is how Ryan McReynolds, Campus Ministry Director of Marketing, describes the work of our concierge.

“The purpose of her role is similar to a hotel concierge: to offer help so that each person can get where they want to go. 
“Cru and hotels are institutions/organizations. And many people are skeptical of institutions. It is very common to hear people say, “I’m not a fan of organized religion”. 
“However, you never hear people say, “I’m not a fan of organized medicine”. That’s because when people are in pain or ill, they just want help; and organized help is much more effective than the alternative. People are grateful for effective help and this can overcome their distrust of an institution.
“The goal of the Concierge is to offer help that is as personal and friendly as possible and yet organized to be as effective as possible to meet people’s needs. 
“Cru is so large that we have lots to offer, but it must be offered in a very personal way in order for people to trust and receive what is offered. That is the role of the concierge.”

 

Our Coaching Center team received the names of over 3500 Christians this year who attended a partnering organization’s events. We worked hard to try to find those interested Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 11.28.32 AMin starting a movement on their campus. We were specifically looking for K’s to become L’s and H’s. And we found some. But after we did our initial pass, we forwarded the lists to the Concierge. In their “very personal way” they were able to surface dozens more interested folks. And that was during April, the worst month of the year to do this!

Our Concierge uses some simple surveys and tools with a proven track record in providing spiritual input and benefit for others. And if you are using MissionHub, you already have a huge start in being able to provide continued spiritual value to those who might have “slipped though the cracks”.

Does this sound compelling to you? Maybe you are a mom looking for a way to impact students. Or maybe you want to be a better Guide to help more students in their spiritual journeys. Contact concierge@cru.org to learn more.

Previous Coaching Tips

 

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Juggling in April

It’s April! There is a lot to do this month. Some campuses will be done before the end of the month. And some summer missions start the first week of May.

How are you at juggling? You have a fair amount to juggle during this last month of the spring semester. You are trying to end the semester well. You are thinking about the summer. And you are already planning for next year.

Here is a list with some helpful resources.

Spring

Summer

Fall

A few perspectives on this busy time.

Recall the old adage about how you eat an elephant—one bite at a time! You don’t want to give that whole list to your leaders all at once. You’ll want to prioritize these and then coach them through this in the time remaining this spring.

One way you can help your leaders own all that needs to be done is to have them brainstorm what they think needs to be done. That’s better than springing a list on them like I just did! Let’s just say that I gave you “The Answers”!

Previous Coaching Tips

Different Cultural Frames of Reference.

One of the values we are currently embracing in Cru is growing in cultural competency. With that in mind our Student LINC and Coaching Center team is reading Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church by Soong-Chan Rah.

We’ve had some really good discussions as we process each week’s chapter assignment. But twenty minutes really only just gets us started.

If you haven’t read Many Colors, chapter four defines some scales helpful in understanding how we process information, how we relate to one another, and how we lead or view leadership. I will list them with the simplest of definitions.

1. Individual vs. Group Orientation

  • Individual: Takes individual initiative, makes decisions individually, prioritizes individuals are above the group.
  • Group: Acting cooperatively, makes decisions as a group, conform to social norms, puts the team before individuals.

2. Guilt vs. Shame

  • Guilt. Responsible for individual sin resulting from individual action, corrected by confession.
  • Shame. Responsible for corporate sin, focus is on becoming a person of honor, corrected by transformation.

3. Equality vs. Hierarchy

  • Equality. Self-directed, individual initiative, flexible roles and expectations, offers own opinion.
  • Hierarchy. Directions from above, leader controlled, firm roles and expectations, respect status of leaders.

4. Direct vs. Indirect

  • Direct. Focus is on what is said, engage in conflict, focus on information, express opinions in frank manner.
  • Indirect. Focus on how it is said, avoid conflict, focus on feeling, express opinions diplomatically.

5. Task vs. Relationship

  • Task. Focus on keeping good time, accurate information, define people by what they do, logic orientation.
  • Relationship. Focus on building relationships, create a feel-good atmosphere, define people by who they know, feeling orientation.

Some of these scales of interaction are more easily grasped than others. One end of the spectrum is not right or wrong compared with the other. It’s a matter of understanding different cultural frames of reference. You may have found yourself, like I did, identifying one way or the other depending upon the context or group you’re part of. But all of this is to help us appreciate and value those who approach communication, relationships, and leadership differently.

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The ‘traffic light rule”.

“Blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah, blah.

“Ever listen to someone who, long after you’ve spaced out, continued to blab on? What did you think of that person? Probably self-absorbed and interpersonally clueless. Being long-winded is a sure route to career failure, indeed life failure.

“Of course, no one thinks they’re perceived as talking too much, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. But without realizing it, could you be one of those irritating people?”

Good advice from career coach and education expert, Marty Nemko.

Three minutes is not a long time. Just about right for a personal testimony in a meeting context. But in a dialogue, three minutes becomes a monologue.

So much of our evangelism training focuses on the message, but we also need develop communication skills. One such skill utilizes what Nemko calls the traffic light rule.

“During the first 30 seconds of an utterance, your light is green: your listener is probably paying attention. During the second 30 seconds, your light is yellow—your listener may be starting to wish you’d finish. After the one-minute mark, your light is red: Yes, there are rare times you should “run a red light:” when your listener is obviously fully engaged in your missive. But usually, when an utterance exceeds one minute, with each passing second, you increase the risk of boring your listener and having them think of you as a chatterbox, windbag, or blowhard.”

Nemko offers some helps to “ensure you’re seen as interesting not annoying.”

  1. As you’re talking, keep asking yourself, “Does this detail risk boring my listener, risk your being thought of as the King or Queen of Hot Air?
  2. Unless you’re saying something you know deserves more than a minute, at the 30-second mark, look for a place to stop. If your listener wants more, he or she can ask a question. She rarely will. Try it and see. What if you’re saying something that requires more than a minute? Break it up into segments, and after each segment, ask something like, “What do you think of that?” or “Am I being clear? Really?” The “really” is important because it lets the listener know that your request is not gratuitous: you really want that question or comment.
  3. Be alert to your listener’s non-verbal cues, especially as your utterance passes the 30-second mark. Does your listener seem fully engaged?”

If you want to dive into this more, here are some resources that might help.

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A 2000 voice virtual choir.

At a mutual friend’s insistence, I met Thom at the airport last week. We each had a full day of meetings and I was catching him before he flew home. We had a lot in common, and we’ve became fast friends.

Before meeting he asked me to listen to this TED talk about a 2000 voice virtual choir. Let me encourage you to listen to it as well. Put on your earphones and sit back to enjoy this 15 minute talk by composer Eric Whitacre.

Spoiler alert! I took several takeaways from that video, but I’ll only mention two.

1. You can accomplish something incredibly impactful, even from a distance. A woman was told by her husband that she didn’t have the voice for it. But she still found something within to push her to participate. Ephesians 2:10 comes to mind. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ESV

I know that many don’t like the thought of doing distance ministry. But I wonder how many who might respond to the Gospel, if we would take a step toward initiating with a potential leader on a campus we probably wouldn’t visit.

2. When we put out a call for others to join our efforts, we have no idea what God has done already to prepare them for that moment, nor the impact He intends. Whitacre said, “I just couldn’t believe the poetry of all of it—these souls all on their own desert island, sending electronic messages in bottles to each other.” If a woman in the Alaskan bush would seek to be a part, no distance is too insurmountable.

We might think that the only real ministry is done face to face, but Whitacre said, “People seemed to be experiencing an actual connection…There are people now online that are friends; they’ve never met.” You can have a significant impact with people you’ve never met.

If you want to learn more about distance coaching, here are a couple of beginning tips.

I’ll stop there. But don’t forget to listen to the virtual choir. For you intrigued by the project, there are other videos on the YouTube page highlighting other Virtual Choir projects, including Virtual Choir 4, “Fly to Paradise,” contains 8,409 videos from 5,905 people from 101 different countries.

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Articulating vision.

Good Monday Morning,

A fellow elder in our church recently gave me a copy of a book he has been recommending: ReLaunch: How to Stage an Organizational Comeback by Dr. Mark Rutland. He engineered three significant relaunches in his career, a large church and two Christian colleges.

I found the chapter on “Communicating a Vision” particularly apropos for us. Here are a few of his thoughts:

  • “…real vision casting changes the way people think, see, and feel.” P. 87
  • “That kind of vision and leadership isn’t simply something that you’re born with or not born with. You have it in you; the key is letting it out. Many leaders are afraid to let their visions radiate. They’re afraid of disappointment later.” Pp. 87,88
  •  “Even the most convincing visionaries don’t convince everybody, though. Some people just aren’t going to make the trip with you. That’s okay. The sooner they get off the bus, the better.” P. 90
  • “Speak the vision with enthusiasm and vitality every time, as if it’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever said. If you show the slightest boredom with your own message, that boredom will be more contagious that the Ebola virus.” P. 99

You may not be in a relaunch. But we are all a month into second semester, or just starting after an intersession. We may think that our students and volunteers are still keenly aware of the vision we laid out at the beginning of the year. I can assure you that that is not the case. They may only be seeing the schedule, the meetings, the time involved, etc. But do they see how your strategies and various responsibilities contribute to seeing the vision realized?

If you need help articulating your vision, here are some resources that might help.

And this is bonus! If you are done, you can check out here. But I found this interesting:

“In fascinating slow motion photography, Dr. Mike Wheatland, a professor at the University of Sydney, specializing in solar astrophysics, demonstrated the quite surprising movement of a suspended slinky. Holding the slinky at the top, he let it hang straight down, unfurled as it were. He then let go. The slow motion photography proved that for a time (brief though it was) the bottom did not fall. The slinky collapsed down. The sections at the top began to contract while the bottom stayed where it was.

“This was caused, he explained, because the information that the slinky was no longer held in place of the top took some period of time to reach the bottom. In fact, by the time that information did reach the bottom it was distorted. The very top sections of the slinky contracted straight down, but those nearer the bottom began to twist. The implications for leadership are huge. Leadership is communication…

“When it comes to articulating a vision, you cannot get bored with the sound of your own voice; it doesn’t matter that you’ve said it a thousand times. That doesn’t mean your audience has heard it—really heard it—a thousand times. The vision gets fractured, scattered, and twisted as it goes down through the ranks.” Pp. 97-99.

Let us continue to share our vision of launching and building movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.

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Helping Churches Reach Students

For those of us in campus ministry, summer is a great time to have the kind of conversations we typically don’t have space for during the busy campus year. When we are home visiting partners we have an opportunity to cast a broader vision than our own work, and possibly help them take steps toward their own vision.

Here is an example. Many churches share your passion for reaching students. Often they don’t know what to do past vision for reaching lost students.

Jeff Grant, Partnership Specialist on our Student LINC Team, recently gave a metro team some practical ideas on the how and why of partnering.

Let me encourage you to go to his page http://staff.partnerwithcru.org/training/ and take 10 minutes to listen to three of his short clips:

  • 101 – Vision: Selling More Dresses,
  • 201 – How to Partner, and
  • 301 – Examples of Partnership.

Then before you listen to any others, consider which church might you have a conversation with about reaching out to a high school or college nearby when you visit this summer. Most of the eight clips currently available are only a couple minutes long.

Some time ago, I met with Abby and Johnny Schuler on Cru staff in Miami. They had a passion for pioneering new ministries and for engaging churches and volunteers to reach out to college campuses. They were given an open door in their own church to offer training and resources, as there was a significant core with a deep concern for college students.

The posture they took was one of “We want to help you accomplish what God has called you to do.” Such a posture lets churches see us as catalysts in their vision, and as having a kingdom mentality.

We in Cru have not always had such a partnering perspective. If we intend to see more than a million life-long laborers raised up, if we hope to give every student an opportunity to say “Yes!” to Jesus, if we hope to see movements of multiplying disciples established on every campus, and if we hope to see Christian leaders raised up in every nation, we will want to look for ways to partner with others.

Spring Coaching Tips