Next Steps with the Each and the Every.

Last week I mentioned Fezzik, in The Princess Bride, realizing the difference between fighting one and fighting many. I mentioned wanting to both work to meet and involve as many incoming freshmen as possible, as well as learn how to connect with each person within the God-ordained oikos’ He has placed us.

Let me suggest some ways to minister to each and every.

I was a resident of sixth floor Geary Hall in East Halls all four of my years at Penn State, We surveyed students every year and followed up those interested. I can only remember one or two students who ever filled out a survey on my floor.

When I talked with them…hmmm…umm…nah… they guessed they really weren’t that interested after all. So I found myself following up those interested on other floors and in other dorms. I needed a plan for helping to create interest in those I saw everyday on my floor, my oikos. Instead, most of my ministry occurred elsewhere.

I wish I knew then about the five common thresholds everyone wrestles with in coming to faith mentioned in “I Once was Lost” by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. The first threshold is trusting a Christian. Moving from distrust to trust. If they don’t trust me, will they listen to what I have to say?

Kevin Kneeshaw, LMD for Montana, Idaho, and Utah, lists several things we can do to build trust.

  1. Ask good questions. Take time to really get to know someone.
  2. Ask to hear their life journey, their story. Just listen!
  3. Pray!  Remember that this is a spiritual venture. God is the only One who can change a person’s life. It’s not about how slick you are or how good you are at building relationships.
  4. Look for a way you can meet a real need that they have in their life. You will only be able to do this if you have been a good listener.
  5. Acknowledge their barriers to the Gospel/Christ as real and legitimate. Don’t act surprised by the things that keep them from embracing Christ. Remember that all of us at some point had barriers to the Gospel and Jesus.
  6. Invite them into community. Let them see you having a good time with other Christ followers.

That first column on the Missional Map asks if each one in our oikos trusts us?

But at the same time you want your students to see their living situation as a significant place of ministry their help is crucial in the overall development of your movement by following up students they wouldn’t otherwise have a relationship with.

You want to equip them to engage with others. Eric Dellaire, now with Grad Resources had a great tool for helping students connect with those they are following up. He used the FARM acrostic.

  • Family. Where they are from, do they have any siblings, what do their parents do for a living, how is their relationship with their siblings or parents. Family works well when talking with ethnic students as they very much value family.
  • Academics. What is their major, year in school, what do they hope to do with their major when the graduate.
  • Religion. What is your religious background, would you consider yourself a person of faith, what do you believe in, how do you view Christ and/or Christians.
  • Message. Here you can introduce your testimonies, or intro into the gospel or KGP booklet. Ask if they wouldn’t mind if we shared what we believe in or can we get their opinion on the KGP.

It’s important to build the relationship, not just inviting to any event or activity.

Hopefully, these ideas will help your students see the value of the each and the every.

Fall Coaching Tips
Andy Stanley’s Looking for the Uniquely Better.
Beginning the Year Checklist.
A tension: Only the interested or every person?


A tension: Only the interested or every person?

There’s a funny exchange in The Princess Bride. (Actually, there’s a lot that’s funny in that cult classic. That’s why it became a Kingsley family favorite when our boys were growing up.)

Fezzik, the giant, is wrestling The Man in Black, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts.

: I just figured out why you give me so much trouble.
The Man in Black: Why is that, do you think?
Fezzik: Well, I haven’t fought just one person for so long. I’ve been specializing in groups. Battling gangs for local charities, that kind of thing.
The Man in Black: Why should that make such a difference?
Fezzik: Well you see, you use different moves when you’re fighting half a dozen people than when you only have to be worried about one.

That’s good to keep in mind as we begin the year. Most of us are busy here at the beginning of the year meeting with and trying to build relationships with as many as we can. Using surveys and other gathering devices, we’re trying to find the most interested students. Rather like Fezzik’s strategy of one on the many.

But we want to help our students understand that the critical event is one believer engaging with a nonbeliever over meaningful spiritual content. Every student is a part of different social networks, or oikos’— where they live, their program of study, where they work, and other associations.

Suppose they don’t find interested students within those social networks. Do they go someplace else for their ministry? No. We want to help them be salt and light in those oikos’.

One place to begin is to map the level of interest of each person in each oikos, using the Missional Map. They will notice that the first step with each person they encounter is building trust.

Next time, I will have some next steps for both the one on many and the one on one.

Focusing on the Influencers

It’s the beginning of a new year and we are all seeking to meet and connect with as many new students as possible. But in our busyness with freshman week activities and following up as many as we can, we can easily overlook the real influencers on campus.

Steve Shadrach, Executive Director, Center for Mission Mobilization, in his ebook, Heart of the Campus: Ministry principles and strategies for focusing on student leaders, suggests that reaching leaders will actually help us have a greater impact on the campus, something we all long for. The Kindle version is available for free with a subscription to Campus Ministry Today.

Shadrach says the campus has three types of students, the influencers (about 10%), the interested (about 60%), and the isolated (about 30%). I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the each context on campus has those same three groups.

His point is that the campus ministry efforts of most organizations are directed toward the interested, while we often ignore the “heart of the campus”, the influencers. He offers 10 movement principles (pp. 13-20) in this brief booklet. I’ve listed each along with a brief excerpt for explanation.

  1. How we view ourselves dramatically impacts how others view us. “For good or for bad, the way each spy viewed himself [in Numbers 13] determined how the giants viewed them.”
  2. The mature can relate to a broader spectrum of people. “It takes a lot of maturity and confidence to believe you can relate to…any person regardless of [their spiritual, social, economic status.]”
  3. Jesus said to focus on shepherds more than the sheep. “The cry of [Jesus’] heart was for more laborers (Matthew 9:36-39). Not more followers, but more leaders; people who could be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. It is not exclusivism or favoritism as to why we select and develop these types of believers.”
  4. Select individuals who can “teach others also”. “In his final letter, Paul instructed his disciple, Timothy,…to significantly narrow down the prospective pool of laborers because they not only had to be faithful, but ‘able to teach others also’ (2 Timothy 2:2).”
  5. The heart of the campus is the most unreached segment. “Many collegiate ministries seem to be targeting the same students and appear to be nibbling around the edges of a campus, focusing on interested or isolated students because it is less threatening, and they are more available.”
  6. If you win the chief, you’ll win the tribe. “Isn’t it obvious that all groups have leaders (whether they are designated or not) and that these individuals have greater influence than the average person in that group?” Many when reached want help reaching their group.
  7. The core of the movement must be made up of influencers. “…at least five to ten students have to be influencers…These “relational networkers” are the magnets who attract other influencers, as well as the interested and isolated students, to the ministry. These key leaders become the glue that causes everyone to stick together and stay a part of the ministry. If the core is primarily interested or isolated students, then a movement will never get off the ground. They will struggle with: 1) relating to each other, 2) being able to initiate personal ministry, 3) attracting others to the movement, and 4) influencing the campus.
  8. Focus on influencers and you’ll indirectly affect more of the interested and isolated. “Jesus loves all students the same and so should we, but how can we impact the greatest number of students?… consider focusing on the influencers; they will draw the others in.”
  9. Vision and boldness is built when you go straight to the heart. “…we are here to win the whole campus to Jesus Christ, and we will not stop until there are key laborers raised up and working within every segment of the campus.”
  10. If you want influential staff, you must focus on influential students. “If your ministry is full of bold visionaries who are not afraid to go straight to the heart of the campus, you will draw stronger leaders to your team. Arliss Dickerson, veteran BCM campus minister…shares, ‘You attract what you are.’”

Shadrach offers perspective on selecting students from Mike Hearon, Director of Campus Outreach in Augusta, Georgia. “He wants to reach as many students as possible on campus and believes that focusing on the influencers is the key: ‘We must see our apostolic calling and realize more people can be reached by investing in those who will be able to teach others also.’”

Regardless of your ministry emphasis, I think you will find Heart of the Campus thought provoking and immediately practical. It is a quick read; one you can finish in an hour. But as you think about reaching your campuses this year, why not consider the influencers on your campus?

Related to this topic.

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 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.

Andy Stanley’s Looking for the Uniquely Better

Welcome to another year of Coaching Tips. While this is a transition year for those of us in the US campus ministry, may we see God work in new and unexpected ways.

Last week, one of the teams I’m on attended Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit. We found that many of the talks applied directly to our situation. I personally walked away with enough fodder for months of coaching tips.

Andy Stanley, pastor and founder of North Point Ministries in Atlanta, mentioned that some time ago, their organization had done some analysis of their success in ministry over the last 20 years. He included the five things that they would do all over again in two podcasts entitled “Lessons from the First 20 Years.” They are, in no particular order,

  • Have a uniquely better product.
  • Maintain a culture of continual improvement.
  • Power of a clear vision and mission.
  • The value of a learning organization.
  • The people we chose is more important than the system we use.

It’s that first one on being “uniquely better” that Stanley unpacked for us Thursday. I want to pass on his most salient points and then share some of my own takeaways as we begin a new year in a new leadership environment.

North Point sought to create an engaging church experience for the family and especially for men. Today, lots of churches are doing the very things they did “uniquely better” than others when they grew so quickly. But, while it is virtually impossible today to discover that which is uniquely better, someone, somewhere is messing with the rules of the prevailing models.

Will we recognize the uniquely better ideas when they surface? Our best hope is to create organizational structures that recognize the better when surfaced. Stanley listed four ways to create a culture that recognizes the better.

1. Be a student, not a critic. Don’t criticize that which we don’t understand or can control. The moment we start criticizing, we stop learning and stop seeing the next. The next generation idea almost never comes from the previous generation.

2. Keep eyes and mind wide open. Listen to outsiders. Listen to those who don’t know what we do or how we do it. Outsiders are not bound by our assumptions. We go with “That won’t work.” because of our assumptions. Close-minded leaders close minds. If you shut eyes and minds you will shut those of others. If they have ideas they won’t bring them to us.

Some questions he asked us to consider:

  • How do we respond to staff who make suggestions based on what they observe in other organizations?
  • Can we shut down the thing inside that wants to shut down the ideas?
  • When was the last time we ran with an idea that wasn’t my idea?
  • Am I curious about what I don’t know?

3. Replace “How?” with “Wow!” Ideas die with “How?” How much does it cost to just say “Wow!”? “Wow!” ideas to life, don’t “How?” them to death. Nothing is gained when we don’t know what young leaders are dreaming about.

4. Recognize rather than resist. If we are pursuing the uniquely better, we will be pre-disposed to see it. Ask if it is unique and better.

In reflecting about this afterward, I realized that some of this is counter-intuitive to the way I think. As an ISTJ, with strengths of analytical and deliberative, I focus on the “how” and am reticent to “wow”. I do seek to position the next generation of leader, and I don’t need to be the one who comes up with the new ideas. Our team has a habit of reading a book each semester giving us new insight and different assumptions.

And while I love to read, I am quick to run ideas through my own grid. I think that is typical of many Cru staff. We are good at our ministry. But we forget that past success is no indication of future success.

In this season of our ministry may we have open minds, open hearts, and open hands to receive from the Lord what He would do in and through us.

The Habit of Serving at the Pleasure of Others.

I’m taking a few weeks to focus on the habits of leaders. Naturally, we think about the typical spiritual disciplines. But I think there are other habits like taking time to read, listen, think, and being generous, that are often overlooked.

Today, I want to focus on serving at the pleasure of others.

For most of 17 years, Chris and I led our church’s 13-week Marriage Preparation Class. We had a great team of teachers, mentors, and others helping put on the class. It was a singular privilege for us to be involved in setting the trajectory of some 1700 couples taking that class over those years.

Maybe once a year, we shared about our work with the class in a newsletter. Many of our ministry partners saw it as an interesting sidelight to our ministry. But aside from presenting the gospel to the whole class during each course, there was little to put on a ministry report. We were, in a fact, serving another ministry outside of our own.

This fact came home to me in a very tangible way. We had a long time instructor of a particular topic and we purposed to change the content and teaching approach. To do so meant asking someone else to lead that session. Anticipating that it might be a hard conversation, I was very encouraged when he graciously responded, “I serve at your pleasure.”

I wasn’t always in charge. Like the vast majority of Cru staff, I was new staff once, with two different team leaders in three years. Then I became a team leader in Rhode Island with staff reporting to me over the next eleven years. During that time, Chris and I became active in our church. I taught adult Sunday school classes, led home groups, participated in our worship band, was a governing elder, and even directed the Easter choir musical one year!

At the end of our years in Rhode Island, we moved to our headquarters in Florida and joined the Student LINC team. Chris and I chose to repeat our church experience and got involved in a church in our new community. In this one, over 3000 attended. No teaching adult Sunday school here. The worship band was made up of professionals and had no place for me. But there was a slot teaching a 2 and 3-year-old Sunday school class.

Again, Chris and I chose to serve for two years how and where we were needed…until a former Cru staff asked if we would consider mentoring in their Marriage Preparation Class.

I did not know it at the time, by as I look back, the pattern God used throughout was one in which I learned how to willingly serving others and not just in the areas that benefit the work of our own ministry. God does a valuable work in our hearts when we seek to advance the work of others. The lessons I learned in servant leadership, others-centered service, and collaborative teamwork, were often taught in the classroom of someone else’s authority, serving their purposes, and helping reach their goals. May we develop the habit of serving at the pleasure of others.

The Habit of Generosity.

Spiritual leaders cultivate habits. We generally think about those habits commonly called spiritual disciplines—the devotional life, studying the Word, prayer, worship, ministry, service, etc. They are important.

However, there are others often overlooked, such as taking time to read, listen, and think.

Today, let’s look at something a bit more others-focused—generosity. A generous person sows freely. It isn’t only with money, but with all the commodities we possess—praise, interest in others, time, energy, etc.

If a generous person is one who sows broadly, am I stingy, or am I generous? Do I offer praise grudgingly, or do I look for ways to genuinely affirm others? Do I give cheerfully? Am I free with my time and energy?

We all have constraints. None of us have unlimited time, treasure, and talent. But do I find myself hoarding and protecting, or do I distribute?

A few weeks ago, a friend of ours, Bob Emrick, suddenly passed away at 81. Chris and I knew him and his wife, Jodi, as long time mentors and part of our leadership team with our church’s Marriage Preparation Class. Those who stood to eulogize the man at his memorial service, focused on his generosity.

Bob was a star basketball player at the University of Florida and after 60 years is still one of the top 10 all-time leaders in scoring and rebounding. He was a successful businessman. Such accolades don’t usually lead automatically to the kind of reputation that Bob had as a humble, giving servant, willing to help any way he could.

After retirement Bob gave his time and talents to several charitable causes. His standard greeting to me was always, “Are you doing okay?”, automatically taking the focus away from him.

Several years ago, Bob and Jodi moved to an hour away from where we held class. But he continued to arrive by 7:30 each Sunday for set up. He made the coffee; and he didn’t even drink coffee! Bob surely was a generous man.

In today’s culture, leaders consolidate. They store up. They protect assets. But Jesus called attention to the widow with the two coins (Luke 21:2), the sinful woman anointing Him with an alabaster jar of perfume (Luke 7:36-50), and the boy with the lunch (John 6:9). It goes to the heart of who we think God is. Do we focus on how He lavished His grace upon us (Ephesians 1:3,8), or do we believe He is checking on us following the rules (Luke 19:21)?

Here’s one way we can be generous. Most of us will be eating out a lot this summer while on missions and at Cru17. Can we be a blessing to those who serve us by tipping more than what is expected?

I am certain that when generosity becomes a habit in one area of life, such as with our money, it pervades every aspect of life. And we will be more effective leaders when we are generous. Let us commit to a habit of generosity.