Category Archives: Planning

Collaborative Discipleship

Have you seen the Collaborative Discipleship resource on Cru.org? Barry Warren, Creative Resources & Media Specialist on the Campus R&D Team, spearheaded an effort to design a discipleship resource that students and volunteers can easily use.

I like how the initial description of Collaborative Discipleship resource points out that “the one who recruits three to five others to join a discipleship group views himself or herself as a fellow disciple needing to grow just as much as the others in the group.” Discipleship is more than just Bible study. And so the “group works together to organize, teach, train, and care for others.” Those in a group can start their own discipleship group in a very short time.

One of the best features of this resource is the pathways. They were designed to put the lessons in the order that best serves the group’s needs.

The lessons are short, simple to prepare, and have the smartphone user in mind. They follow a typical flow of connect to one another, cultivate the Biblical truth and skills, and care for others around us. And like the page says, you will find that “topics like justice, life skills, and embracing our ethnicity are enfolded into the time tested subjects like evangelism, basic follow-up, and discipleship.”

Over the years, I’ve noticed that it is difficult for students and volunteers to invest the amount of time that staff typically do to prepare Bible study lessons or spend with their disciples to help them grow. While this Collaborative Discipleship resource is still being tested, I think it helps give them the tools they need to lead others well.

Why not take a few minutes today to look at the beginning page, see if there is a pathway that fits your need, and click on a lesson or two to get a feel for the flow. If you get ambitious, there are in-depth resources and ideas for immersive experiences worth checking out.

Fall Coaching Tips

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Beginning the Year Checklist

Good Monday Morning,

It’s a new year. We eagerly anticipate what God might do this year.

Let’s get practical. Our time is limited. The first week on campus for the freshman is probably as important as all the rest of the first semester combined. This first week is when students determine who their friends will be and what they will value in college.

Who are your key student leaders in each of your movements? Coach them through each of these first four areas. As they see God use them right out of the blocks, it will build their confidence for the rest of the year.

1. Articulate your vision of what God will do this year.

2. Connecting with key players.

  • Call each one on your student leadership team to ask how their summer went. Inform them of the first meeting and what their individual responsibility is, and answer any questions they may have.
  • Give your faculty advisor a call to inform him or her of the first events of the semester and to give them specific prayer requests.
  • Make sure your meeting room is scheduled, tables reserved for giveaways or surveys, and ads placed in the newspaper. You want to make sure the details are covered.

3. Leadership team kickoff before freshmen arrive.

  • Share your vision for the year.
  • Lead a devotion from, say Nehemiah 1, about the start of a great undertaking. Nehemiah is a great example of leading in both prayer and action.
  • Inform them of the first few events and make sure that each responsibility is covered.
  • Take extra time to pray for God to move, for new students to connect, and for the impact you will make this year.
  • Encourage everyone to be familiar with the Campus Ministry Year.

4. Planning your first outreach.

  • If you plan some kind of info table or do a giveaway, decide on materials and the earliest time for distribution.
  • If you will have an open house, a “cower” or pizza party, etc., make sure the right “people” people are welcoming visitors. Have the opening talk be brief, visionary, and welcoming.
  • If you use a survey to find interested students, schedule the table or dining hall to take the surveys. Three easy to use surveys with transitions and nationwide tabulating tools can be found at QuEST Resources.
  • Start right away with posters.

Let’s take a mental pause here before proceeding.

  • If you are outside the US, you may have your own unique way of beginning your campus year.
  • If you have leaders on other campuses, why not forward these first four items to them, and schedule a time to talk through some of the details?

It is a huge confidence booster whenever anyone takes on ownership and sees God use them. And it frees you up to prayer walk or do an info table on a campus that doesn’t have student leadership already in place.

And now the final three…

5. Make sure your info is current on the infobase.
(For staff and interns in the US.)

First, edit your profile so that the information is accurate. You are the only one who can do this and it only takes a minute. This is essential for anyone trying to reach you with a contact for a campus. It is amazing how many campuses list out of date info here.

Then, see if your name is attached to the campuses you’re on and want to reach. Our ministry locators are visible to the public. Parents and friends do want their Christian students to get connected. If you have a ministry and it is not listed in the infobase, people see, “We don’t have a ministry at this location…”. They will be far more likely to contact you than email the default campusinfo@cru.org box.

6. Direct and delegate rather than just do.
I started driving tractor at 4 1/2 and a truck at 9. By now I think I am fairly good at driving. When it came time to teach my sons to drive, no matter how much modeling and teaching I did, I finally had to get out of the driver seat and give them the wheel. They made some mistakes at first. And I had some white-knuckle moments. But it was necessary.

We are developing leaders. They won’t/can’t lead if we continue to do so. A good starting place is Eric Swanson’s “The Art of Delegation“.

7. Decide where and when to launch.

If it’s in your calendar, it gets done. As a team, decide which campuses or communities you want to launch in and when. Three easy things to do.

The ideal time for pioneering is during the first month of the semester. Students are the most open and available during this time. You may feel like you’re taking time away from existing ministries. Prepare your leaders the week before by saying that you will call them to talk through their responsibilities and answer any questions at that time. Begin to pray that God will use your time of pioneering on new campuses to help the students on your launched campuses grow as leaders.

I tried to focus these final three on what you as a leader must do. Leaders think strategically with the big picture in mind. Let us pray together that God opens doors on more and more campuses and within more communities, so that more and more students can hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Have a great week launching and building new movements.

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

The First Two Weeks in the Fall.

Years ago, Eric Swanson wrote the article, “The First Two Weeks on Campus.” We still do much of what he talked about in getting ministry started in the fall. How those first two weeks go, makes a difference in the rest of the year. That’s why it is so important to be thinking now about fall ministry start-up essentials.

Read on for my distilled version of Eric’s thinking, a few thoughts of my own.

Time with key leaders

  • Ask student leaders to return before freshmen arrive on campus. It’s essential to do this before so as to maximize relationship building time with freshmen.
  • Cast vision for the year. You may need to re-align and provide motivation.
  • Involve them in dreaming about and planning for the year.
  • Walk through the key events of the first few weeks.
  • Delegate responsibilities for those events.

Visibility

  • Visibility communicates that what we are involved in is significant.
  • Goal: That everyone on campus knows we exist.
  • Being attractive to students: Having fun, building relationships, involved in meaningful efforts.
  • Flyers and handouts.
    • What we hand out or post lends credibility to the more critical personal invitation.
    • Does the publicity represent us well?
    • Do students see us as the kind of people they want to be involved with?
  • Tabling
    • Surveys, sign-ups, providing information about first meeting, socials, retreat.
    • Food!
  • Socials
    • First day of school picnic, pizza party, ice cream social, etc.
    • This is your first opportunity to make a body-mode impression.

Gathering

  • Principle: If you have a non-believer focus—believers will come; if you have a believer focus, non-believers won’t come.
  • Believers may be a great source of manpower. But you are looking to survey large numbers of students to find those most interested as early as you can.
  • Again, the first two weeks are most important all year.
  • Atmosphere: Students don’t feel pressured yet. They have lots of hope for what the year holds in store for them. They are seeking friendships and a place to belong. This window of opportunity will close quickly.

Conserving fruit

  • Set a deadline to follow up contacts. Contacts become cold in two weeks and dead in three.
  • Look for ways to have lots of person-to-person contact.
  • Start large open connection groups quickly. By starting too late, we lose people.
  • We can start discipleship groups later.

Other things to keep in mind

  • Train your students what to do on a first appointment
  • What about returning students?
  • Plan well your first meeting of the year.
  • Plan your first outreach.
  • Plan a movement launch.

Minister to your team

  • Since you as a team are working hard these two weeks, look for ways to affirm that work, celebrate the progress, and refresh.

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

“Better than my dreams.”

Last week I mentioned that this is the time of the semester when I typically map out the rest of the year. I chose, instead, to focus on prayer and putting ourselves in a posture of receiving direction from the Lord, not just projection planning based on what we’ve done before.

Again, last year, this particular tip looked like this.

It seems appropriate to keep asking what the Lord would do. But this week, consider the dreams He is giving you.

  • What could you imagine the Lord doing if He had free reign?
  • What Scriptures are you praying about for your campuses?
  • What would your campuses look like if your dreams became a reality? (i.e., the spiritual responsiveness of non-believers, the spiritual walk of believers, the spiritual tone on campus, the character, vision, and biblical convictions of Christian students, etc.)?
  • What is the Lord showing you concerning the kind of person you’ll become in order to see your dreams fulfilled?
  • What could you imagine regarding the spiritual health and training of your student leaders and volunteers?
  • Since small plans don’t inflame the minds of men, what faith stretching events might you do in the next two to four years to fulfill your vision?
  • In light of the vision God has given you for the next two to four years, what is He showing you to do or become this year?

(These questions were adapted from “Cultivating a Vision for my Campus.”)

There’s a line in the book (not the TV series), The Virginian, by Owen Wister. It’s at the end, and I won’t spoil it for you by telling the circumstances. The Virginian repeatedly says, “Better than my dreams.” And finally he says, “And my dreams were pretty good.” What are we dreaming that only God can accomplish?

Spring Coaching Tips

Selected Tips from Fall 2016

First, prayer.

This is the time of the semester when I typically map out the rest of the year. It’s a busy time, giving thought to ending the year well, preparing for summer, and planning out the beginning of the next fall.

Last year, this particular tip looked like this.

But I thought it might actually be good for this focus to be on prayer. That will set us up better as we lead out of this year into next.

Actually, it was my wife, Chris, who said, we can do the same things we have always done In planning and preparing for the summer and the fall. But where is the faith in that? Are we planning by experience, and then, logically, by projection? “We did thus and so…and so with what we have, we should be able to do such and such.”

No one is going to argue that we shouldn’t pray. Prayer surfaces leaders. Prayer causes growth. Prayer brings us in tune with the heart of God. Prayer opens doors. Etc., etc.

But, while we should plan ahead and do our preparation, let’s consider how we can put ourselves in a posture of receiving from the Lord as we look ahead.

You might possibly have a significant season of prayer and then come up with the same things you have always done. But isn’t it good to know that it was the Lord leading you in that?

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.