Category Archives: High school students

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

Got a New Friend?

Have you met someone this summer who could start a movement? I can almost guarantee you have.

Maybe when you were on a summer mission, or at an MPD location, you encountered a Christian who…

  • wants to make a difference in a high school?
  • an International Student just beginning to grow in her new found faith?
  • an ethnic student looking to start something in his ethnic community?
  • someone on a campus where we don’t have a ministry?
  • a faculty member? Graduate student? ROTC cadet, athlete?

Read on for a story of how easy it is to start something and to connect them to a specialist who will help them start a movement right where they are.

Neil Cole, author of Organic Church, tells of a conversation with his 15 year-old daughter about starting a church among her friends.

“The next day she said, ‘Dad, my friends all want to do it!’ ‘Do what?’ I asked. ‘Start a church.’ I told her that she would have to do most of the work, and I would coach and lead only a little. She said that was fine. The next day she arranged a house to meet in, picked a night of the week, and found a worship leader; flyers were soon being passed out to friends on campus.

“After the church had been meeting for several months, I met with these students and we all sang praises to the Lord. I felt the Lord’s pleasure. I asked the students what was the biggest church they had ever been to. Living in Southern California there are many options of mega-churches, and a number of churches were mentioned, ranging in size from two thousand attendees to more than fifteen thousand.

“… ‘How many of you think you could start a church like one of those mega-churches?’ No one raised a hand. I asked, ‘How many of you think you could start a church like this one?’ and all raised their hands…

“Hey, if a fifteen-year-old girl can do this, how about you?” pp. 211-212.

When we think about starting a movement we often have in mind the organization on our campus of a few to several hundred. Starting something like that is overwhelming. But every one of those started small. Let’s consider what one person with five to ten friends can do, and give them the best shot at starting a movement of God on their campus or in their community.

So… back to my original question. Whom have you encountered this summer who could possibly start a movement on their campus?

Call Pat Senkbeil at 1 800 678-5462, or email her at with their name, school, and possible context for ministry. She can pass on your individual to someone who will help them start a ministry in their high school, their college, with any of our Ethnic Field Ministries, Bridges International, or Valor, etc.

PS.  Might I suggest that you not try to do this yourself. You may have every intention of trying to assist them, but once things start in the fall, you will get busy on your own campus. Let someone who does this all the time take it, unless the campus is in your scope.

Education Majors Summer Mission

Do you have Education Majors involved in your movements? The Education Majors Summer Mission (EMSM) was designed just for them.

This mission in Estes Park, Colorado, is an action learning and leadership development opportunity for future educators from elementary through high school interested in living out their faith in the classroom.

Over fourteen days they’ll learn what is possible, what is legal, and what is realistic for ministry as a teacher. They will have exposure to Cru and our high school and middle school ministry. They will be equipped to engage with students effectively, receiving hands on experience while discipling a group of students and facilitating their ministry training while staffing the Getaway, Cru’s high school summer conference.

Kelsey Butler, a junior math education major at South Dakota State University went on the EMSM last summer. She says that going was one of the best decisions she ever made. As a future teacher, she wants to use her position to reach students for Christ.

She writes, “I got to hang out with awesome future educators, dive deeper into my relationship with God, and…learn practical ways to start a movement in my future school… Another great part of the mission was hanging out with a bunch of high school-ers from around the country and leading a small group of them at…Rocky Mountain Getaway! [I worked with] girls from Anoka, Minnesota…

“One of these girls is the first person in her family to believe in Christ. It was truly inspirational to get to know her and her story and to see her grow while she was there. I loved working with these girls so much, and I not only learned how to work with that age group, but I also learned a lot about myself in the process.

“Finally, did I mention that all of this takes place in one of the most beautiful places in the US? At EMSM, we stay in the YMCA of the Rockies which is smack dab in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and is one of the best places to experience God and his beautiful creation.

“We got to go hiking, white water rafting, zip lining, horseback riding, and all sorts of other things. It was seriously the best thing ever! In fact, EMSM was so great, that I’m coming back this summer as a student staff!…I really hope you would consider joining me this summer at EMSM! I’m sure it’ll be one of the most memorable two weeks of your life!”

As Kelsey experienced, high school-ers are at an impressionable age. With so much brokenness among teenagers and the institutions that impact them, Christian college students and teachers can make a huge difference.

There is fascinating research done by the Barna organization about the role Christians play in stemming the decline of our public schools. A key ingredient is the Christian teacher. So when you send your Education Majors to the EMSM, you are actually making a difference in the future of our children and our nation.

If you have questions, contact the mission team leaders, Scott Livermore or Stephanie Cooksey. There are still spaces for men and women.

Related Tips

Movement Launching and Building tips

Other Ways of Getting Manpower in Houston

It’s said that leaders build critical mass. Much of that is manpower and funding. However, it’s easy to focus on not having enough of either to accomplish the vision God has given us.

Take manpower, for example. Do we wait until LD places staff on our team before going after greater scope? What if we don’t get more staff?

Barry Bowling, Houston’s high school ministry MTL, is trusting God for a team of 100 to reach the middle and high school students of Houston. That’s 25 staff, 25 gatekeepers, and 50 working directly with kids. To date, God has provided 35-40 for their team. Read on to see how 5 full time and 2 part time staff, 10 Gatekeepers, and 21 volunteers are using a variety of coaching approaches to reach high school students in Houston.

Barry told a group of us how they are growing their manpower base. He gave me his notes after that conversation.

“In the fall semester we brought our volunteers together once a month for vision, training and fellowship. We’ve seen fruitfulness in three areas.

1 Asking our current volunteers “Who do you know that might be able to help?”

  • Two parents from our initial gathering have connected us to 9 people…some are now leading Bible studies with students.

2 Empowering former students, now in college, who stay in town to serve with us.

  • One campus in Katy and Morton Ranch is being run completely by former students who we are coaching catalytically.
  • Two former female students are key volunteers at Cy Falls and Tompkins High School
  • Another guy helps by leading Bible studies and is going on a global mission to Spain over Spring Break!

3 SEIZING THE MOMENT: Jump on any potential recruiting opportunities that come our way:

  • An administrator e-mailed from a charter school. I quickly called and met with the administrator who introduced me to a student, We then met with the student and her Mom. Now the sophomore is leading a new Cru campus outreach and Laurie [Barry’s wife] is coaching her catalytically.
  • Another Mom e-mailed me….I called the Mom…and last week we met with the parents and their junior daughter….very interested, hope to bring a few friends to Fastbreak. If the daughter decides to start Cru for her campus we will come alongside to resource and coach her as well.
  • Both came to us via e-mail and it’s always tempting to let those slide until later…but we couldn’t afford to do that. When manpower opportunities come our way they have to be elevated to the top of the priority list no mater what else is going on because you never know what could come out of it!

So is it working in Houston? They have launched movements on 12 campuses with their sights on eight more. Since August nearly 350 students have indicated placing their faith in Christ in group meetings alone!

Barry told me that there may be 150 to 200 schools in Houston. He knows that to give every middle and high school student an opportunity to say “Yes!” to Jesus Christ, they cannot do ministry the way we have traditionally done it.

One thing he wants to do is air some kind of piece on the largest Christian station in Houston to expose people to opportunities to be a part of their team. Barry pleaded, “Please pray that that will happen and will connect us with communities all over Metro Houston that would want to start something on a high school or junior high campus where we are not currently!”