Category Archives: Launching

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 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

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 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
      • 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.
  • 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.

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

A Destino multiple movements case study.

The Destino Movement is in a significant growing phase. Sandi Ireland, National Field Director, reported that they added at least 12 new campuses to their ministry last year, and, so far this semester, have added 18 more, through both their campus teams and distance coaching. One was just added two weeks ago, bringing to over 80 total locations.

I was honored to provide some launching and building movements training to their Destino MTLs earlier in the month. Following that time, Sandi presented some case studies for discussion. Here was one, along with a summary of the discussion among the MTLs.



Destino Case Study

You have 5 campuses that you’re currently working on, and you feel stretched too thin. You have a “main campus” and a community college that feeds into it that your team spends most of its time and energy on. In addition you have added 3 “expansion campuses” each about 90 minutes from your house where you had launch weeks last semester. Now, there’s a student leader and a Bible study at each one of those expansion campuses. But meanwhile, at your two “main campuses” the numbers at the weekly meeting have gone down a bit. You’re on more campuses, but have the same number of students involved city wide. This makes the staff feel tired and discouraged. They are concerned that there are less resources available and that the big movement might die.

  1. How do you think you’d be feeling in this situation?
    • Excited, but because the other places are at the same place, its discouraging. Where do I put my time?
    • I would probably be feeling the same way: tired and discouraged. Wondering how to get the enthusiasm back up.
  2. What other underlying sources of anxiety might exist for your team?
    • Big movements ARE fun, and I’m worried that students in our dwindling movement aren’t going to have that great an experience.
    • How I determine self worth and success. I don’t see my team. Is the main movement going to keep shrinking? A crisis of belief.
  3. How would you affirm what your team’s doing in the midst of their anxiety?
    • Pray and ask the Lord to restore our joy. Remember that the size of the movement isn’t the only indicator of success…you can also define success by the number of students walking with Jesus and taking steps of faith to own the ministry. Affirm that prayer is real work.
    • Looking at Jesus’ model. Have I been explicit in the risks involved with this? What’s our timetable for success? What is the wisest use of our resources? Did we overextend? How can we be encouraged by the risks we have taken?
  4. How would you help your team thrive? Any experiments you’d want to try?
    • Honestly assess what’s going on on each campus, and ask each staff person what is most life-giving in what they do. Maybe a staff person loves discipleship at the distance campus, but can’t drive there that often. Maybe s/he should start a distance coaching strategy with Skype appointments more often.
    • Try to bring the leaders together from all campuses so that the leaders on the main campus and community college see these are real people and we are all part of the family. They can have compassion for those outside of their own campus.

Just for the fun of it, I brought the case study back and asked my team to answer her questions. Here is a summary of their insights.

  • The team is sowing broadly. They can rejoice that there was real growth from last year. God is at work.
  • Affirm that they are investing in good things—empowering students to lead, switching from staff doing to staff coaching, and finding themselves in a place of greater dependence, where they must pray more.
  • What they are experiencing is typical. Anytime we change the paradigm of ministry or the definition of success (such as “not what you do, but what others do because of what you do), there can be difficult adjustments.
  • Consider taking students from the main and community colleges on the trips to the other three. Discipleship can take place in the car. And the students gain a heart for those on the other campuses.
  • Are there volunteers, professors, etc. who can do some of the face-to-face at the main?
  • Consider the gift mix on your team. Some may prefer to disciple students on the distance campuses using Hangout. There can be other advantages of coaching the circle campuses this way.

Finally, Katie Nelson, one of our high school coaches, offered this insight: “Mark Batterson said we often overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what God can accomplish in 5 years… I think this case study, and having a greater scope in general, means trusting God with current uncertainty (not having big numbers on each campus) for future success (being present on more campuses so more students can meet Jesus).”

Fall 2016 Coaching Tips

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