Category Archives: High school students

The mindset of Generation Z.

File this one away for when you give specific thought to the mindset of the students you’re reaching.  It’s Lit: a guide to what teens think is cool is being passed around in some of our circles. It’s a Google magazine highlighting proprietary research into the mindset of Generation Z by the Brand Team for Consumer Apps at Google.

“It’s Lit” provides a glimpse into US teens through what they think is cool. As the introduction states, “Cool is an indication of what people pay attention to, what gets them excited, and can often act as a manifestation of their hope and dreams.”

While our high school staff might find this particularly pertinent, incoming freshmen on our college campuses are very much a part of Gen Z as well. If this stimulates your thinking, reading the source material also provides further insight.

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016


Where we’re seeing both fast starts and fast growth.

A question: What do these have in common?

  • College national directors taking a team of high school staff to Hawaii.
  • A “Fast Food Outreach”.
  • 25 students at Big Break sign up for more because they found spiritual openness in this demographic on the beach.

Here are the back-stories.


Amanda Gagnon and Jim Kercheval (CFM NDs in the PSW), in partnership with seven Cru High School staff leaders led our first Aloha Expedition. The Expedition Leaders were CJ Neal (Indianapolis Cru HS) and Yaneth Diaz (Houston Cru HS). The goal of the expedition was to go to Oahu and the Big Island to meet with and encourage pastors, teachers, parents, to look for opportunities to resource, to start, or accelerate high school ministries on the islands. The hope is that those involved in the lives of high school students would be able to tap into our online resources and coaching center to help them to eventually grow and send local middle school and high school students to the universities where there are Cru and Epic Movements. The vision is to see more local Hawaiians reached with the Gospel and involved in our college movements and sent to the world.

Fast Food Outreach.

Camryn, a University High School student attended a high school Fast Break last year and placed her faith in Christ. This year she went back and heard talk about conducting a Fast Food Outreach. The night of the outreach, Camryn brought Bri, who had questions and was wrestling about deciding to trust Christ. Sitting at the table were three students who had just two days earlier placed their faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. They really encouraged her to take that step of faith, which she did. Last year at this time, University High did not have a movement. Today, with 40-50 students involved, it is seeing rapid multiplication.

Big Break interest.

Glen Nielsen, giving leadership to the three week-long Big Breaks in Panama City Beach told me that what they are seeing this year is consistent with previous years. High school students are more open and responsive to the Gospel in higher numbers than those over 18. Students sharing Christ remark how surprisingly open high school students are compared to the students on their college campuses back home. 25 students at the first week of Big Break have indicated an interest in starting a high school movement when they get back to campus.

And now to connect the dots: We’ve known all along, and continue to see evidence, that those under 18 years of age are very responsive to the Gospel. Movements launched in high schools often see rapid replication. And there continues to be an interest among college students in reaching out to high school students. I think it bears out that college students have a genuine concern for their little brothers and sisters and want them to face the world with Jesus right there with them. Anything we can do to open doors for ministry to teenagers can potentially make a difference in our college ministries too. Here are some helps.

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

Natural mode launching.

My pastor told us today that the Gospels record 132 meaningful conversations that Jesus had people. Interestingly, 4 of those occurred in the temple and 6 in a synagogue. Where did the rest happen? In the normal ins and outs of life, the comings and goings of the everyday.

It brought to mind something that Lee Cooksey, Chief of Staff for the High School Ministry, said recently about the simplest possible way to launch a high school ministry. Take some friends to a high school game, or, really, anyplace where students hang out. Have conversations using whatever tool you want. Then ask to get together again to continue the conversation.

You know how to start conversations. You know how to get back together with interested people. You know how to continue gospel conversations. You know how to invite to an evangelistic study or basic Bible study. You know how to train others to reach out and gather others. That’s all launching is in it’s simplest form.

If we could say that launching new ministries can take place in different modes, the way evangelism does, we might think of what I just described as launching in the natural mode. It is similar to natural mode evangelism in which we share with others in the context of our natural connection with them.

In contrast, evangelism in the ministry mode occurs when we intentionally reach out to others with the purpose of witnessing to them. That’s how we typically think of launching with scheduling, planning, and going to a new location like I talked about in A Staff Team Pioneering a New Campus Together recently.

Why not sit down with your disciples and brainstorm an audience or community that you would like to trust God to launch through natural conversations.

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

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 and sign up on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM at @CRU31DAY.

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

Future Teachers Living Missionally

I was out for a walk recently with my son, Rick, MTL at Florida State University. He commented about how we train primarily in ministry mode evangelism, and not enough in natural mode. He said it’s pretty dissatisfying watching people not hanging in there with friendships that don’t progress toward trusting Christ, or how to work through awkward conversations. Those who graduate from our ministry and go into the marketplace especially feel that lack of training.

At about the same time I had in a conversation with Scott Livermore, middle and high school ministry coach, and team leader for Educators on Mission. He told me that the question he screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-7-58-29-pmgets most often from Education Majors is how to help them live missionally in their future career.

His response: “Come join us this summer for the Cru Summer Mission: Educators Summer Mission. Those 15 days will set you up for a lifetime of ministry. You will create a training seminar at our high school Summer Conference. You will learn your legal freedoms as a believing educator. And, as part of a team, you will present a plan for launching a movement on a school that you can use as a blueprint for when you graduate.”

He usually has a bit more to tell them, like who wouldn’t want to spend 15 days in Estes Park, CO?  And how the team believes they have created a great blend of ministry philosophy, practical application, Cru distinctive areas, and hands on ministry leadership.

Alex is an alum of the Educators Summer Mission. He teaches art in Lincoln, NE. Concerned about getting to know his students at his new school, he decided to invite students to hang out with him at lunch. Two things happened: 1. So many students were coming each day that he had to reset his boundaries so he could get work done a couple of lunches per week, and 2. Alex soon started a weekly guys group after school to begin discipleship with them. They appreciated how he demonstrated compassion and care. He also helps out with the weekly Bible club on campus.

A few more details about the summer mission.

  • Housing will be in hotel-type rooms in the newer lodges at the YMCA of the Rockies.
  • Participants will serve as leaders for the High School Summer Conference (formerly, Rocky Mountain Getaway).
  • The cost is $1995.
  • There are also opportunities for staff to serve on the mission discipling men or women.
  • If you have questions, email Scott at
  • Here is a flyer for Educators Summer Mission.

Would you consider challenging your Education Majors to invest two weeks this summer as part of the Educators Summer Mission, thereby helping prepare them for a life of ministry?

Fall 2016 Coaching Tips

Outreach in real and online contexts.

Do you…

  • Look for ways to connect virtually with non-believers? Or with your disciples?
  • Utilize social media for evangelism and discipleship?
  • Use as a significant outreach strategy?

If you said maybe or no to any of these questions, you must read Boys Online, a recent article in the National Post with interviews by Ben Kaplan. The article begins by saying,

“Teenagers in 2016 live two lives. There’s physical life — school, sports, exams, dating, jobs. And there’s digital life — Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Tinder. Most days, it’s difficult to say which consumes more of their attention, and which shapes more of their future.

“There is plenty of handwringing hype about the impact of social media and technology on the lives of teenagers, much of it focused on bullying and the exploitation of girls. On the heels of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers (Nancy Jo Sales) and Girls & Sex (Peggy Orenstein), we wanted to explore sex and cyberspace from the less-explored perspective of teenaged boys.

“What followed was a series of frank nationwide conversations that helped us unpack a new, transforming universe with a unique and easily misunderstood language, social pressure and codes.

“From nude pics to Twitter breakups to trying to fit in, these young men talked honestly about grappling with the challenges of our times.

“It was through these conversations that reporter Ben Kaplan embarked on a relationship with Central Toronto Academy, a 100-year-old high school that lost an 18-year-old student last year to gun violence and suffered through a long Facebook-fuelled incident of Islamophobia. As the school comes to grips with how to govern technology, Kaplan has been invited to work with the English and Media Arts department and report — from the inside — on how digital life is affecting Canadian teens.

“This is the start of a year-long conversation that will take us to the front lines of the internal and external lives of teenagers.

“Listen up. Learn.”

The piece goes on with a number of boys sharing their experience with social media. You can read the tension they feel between being one thing online and something else in real life. Their stories are compelling.

The point is this. You work hard everyday to create a different life for the students you talk to. It is real and it makes a difference. We must not think that the only real ministry is face to face. You can also create a different life for students online as well. And just think, if they are taking the time to read an article on, they are not feeding their prurient interests.

You can give them something much more life giving than what they are feeding on now. Do you want to know how? Start by downloading Marilyn Adamson’s The Ripple Effect. Take 15 minutes and have a look. Then pick out one or two ideas and try them this week.

Fall 2016 Coaching Tips

Did you know…?

I polled a broad cross section of leaders in the Campus Ministry for this one. I asked for factoids, resources, and essential information that would be good for us to know. Enjoy!

Did you know…?

  • Of the 4,701 institutions of higher learning in the United States, 3,072 are four-year schools.
  • There are 21 million college students in the US. Here is what’s true of this year’s freshmen.
  • 15% of all high school students travel less than 10 miles to college.
  • A breakdown of students by ethnicity by region.
  • 1 out of every 5 (21%) people who reside in the United States speak a language other than English at home.
  • The average undergrad spends nearly 2,000 hours in a classroom to complete a 4 (ish) year degree.
  • An average professor will teach 5,000-10,000 students in a career. Dr. Elzinga, at UVA, who teaches large intro sections, has taught 45,000 students in his career.
  • Christian faculty are influential. Set them up for impact at, helping them start Faculty Commons on campus, speak at your weekly meetings and outreaches, and join you on spring and summer missions.
  • 200 different spring and summer Cru mission teams go to over 50 countries each year
  • 17 ministries outside of the Campus Ministry regions host summer missions.
  • Most of our 65 stint teams will take time during their stint year to launch a movement in a new location, open up hundreds of universities around the world and maybe in nations with no campus ministry.
  • 90% of all youth ministry takes place INSIDE the US. Yet 97% of all youth live OUTSIDE the US.
  • The High School Ministry has the START booklet for starting middle or high school ministries as well as the Global Start booklet for broader teenage contexts. Available at 1-877-Go-Campus.
  • The “Here to help.” brochure is designed to describe our high school ministry to educators, administrators, parents, and volunteers.
  • There are free online classes for senior staff development.
  • We have artists ministries in Cru, Creatives on Mission and TransFORM.
  • There are matching grants available for Speakers Forum events.
  • Describing your ministry as a “Christian group” can be alienating to students from Catholic backgrounds. Destino describes our ministry as “Christ-centered”.
  • Here is a complete list of EFM Winter Conferences this year. Bring someone with you.
  • Ethnic Field Ministries and Leadership Development, are working jointly on developing cultural competency training for all staff, both for what we need right now and a future more holistic plan.
  • Executive leaders in all Field Strategies (CFM, EFM, High School, Bridges, Faculty Commons) meet monthly to increase internal collaboration and partnership, and to skillfully coach field staff and to accelerate fulfilling our mission.
  • We have articles, strategies, Bible Studies, and evangelistic initiatives to help campus movements address modern day slavery and sex trafficking. For more info contact Libby Swenson.
  • Friends and connection are the top felt needs of international students. Overcoming loneliness. Most come from interdependent cultures and are not used to being alone or doing things alone.
  • Even if international students come from an atheistic worldview, most are curious about Jesus and will listen respectfully when you share about your relationship with Him.
  • We offered some of our best training and resources for helping students share their faith at to hundreds of thousands gathered on the Washington Mall this summer.
  • has lots of helpful training videos.
  • Soularium has great questions for conversations with students about culture and their ethnic identity.
  • The Life On Mission (100% Sent) Site  with the 5 Things, The Decision Making Suite, tips on ministry in the workplace, and more helps students live missionally on campus and after graduation.
  • Former STINTERS, interns, and marketplace-bound seniors can receive help in adapting their training to the marketplace. or
  • The Valor Movement has 609 leaders from summer camps to follow up.
  • When you recruit personally and intentionally to Summer Missions, more will attend and it impacts the maturity of your movement.
  • Plan your campus year with the cycles of momentum in mind. Your students will see the wisdom and will be spiritually healthier because of it.
  • 20% of graduating Cru students go on to graduate school. Grad Ministry is creating resources and mobilizing staff and volunteers to help them launch movements among grad students.
  • Cru campus has an orphan care coordinator assisting Bible Studies Leaders, Movements, Summer Missions, and STINT teams to meaningfully engage in caring for and praying for orphans in your city, Natalie Back.
  • What is to evangelism, is for new believers wanting to grow. They extend our reach beyond what we can do face-to-face with students, and even more so when we train students to use them. is your resource center. It has training videos, a FREE short ebook, and links to the app stores for the new app. You can get FREE business cards by calling 800-827-2788. (1 box per 10 Cru students is suggested.)
  • MissionHub can do more than managing contacts and communication with large numbers of students. It also helps us care better for those with whom we work most closely.
  • The Thrive Studies were written for the high school audience, but college students also find them helpful in building our core Win, Build, and Send DNA.
  • Since August 1, nearly 25 have contacted us about starting a movement after reading Starting a Ministry on
  • With only 12% of the nation’s black college students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), 70% of the country’s physicians and dentists and ½ of our nation’s African American public school teachers are HBCU graduates.
  • Backstory is helpful for sharing the gospel with those unfamiliar with the Bible story line. It’s interactive, engaging, and visual, and works for one-on-one conversations and small groups.
  • Parents appear to have a closer connection to the ministry their high school aged children attend than where they went to college.
  • Consider 50% or more of a meeting with staff, students, or volunteers to be about vision and shepherding, with no more than 50% the details of the ministry.
  • No one else can walk with God for you. They can do many helpful and significant things, but it’s up to us to keep our walk with the Lord in the right priority.
  • Ministry leaders are always going to feel stretched as we live by faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit. It comes with our role. We think about the present and the future, as well as the next group of people to reach. The work won’t be complete until Jesus returns.

Wow! Did you know all that?! This was a lot, and pretty cool, huh! Why not bookmark this page for future reference? I’m sure I have left out some things that are really important for us to know about our ministry. Maybe I will do it again sometime and catch those. Finally, a big thank you to you who contributed to this list. I am grateful for your help.

Fall Coaching Tips