Launch Week Side Benefits

Last week, I mentioned that teams of Cru staff have been visiting new campuses for the purpose of finding potential key volunteers. Six teams visited five different cities in two weeks. Every team in Florida had staff go to Miami for a second launch week, including four new staff and interns from Florida State.

My wife and I just happen to be in Tallahassee this weekend visiting our eldest son, Rick, and his family. We also happened to meet Alana Schmidt, one of those who went to Miami. She told me a little about her experience.

Alana is new staff, and just reported to campus. Ironically she spent her first week post-MPD in Miami. She pointed out to me that the Key Volunteer Challenge training emphasizes how God was already at work before we ever talk with students. She went on to say that it was a really good reminder that we are in partnership with Him, and that He continues to be at work. Because Alana had been an intern before, she experienced how easily that in the middle of ministry week after week we can forget that God is at work.

One of Alana’s takeaways is to go through the challenge with current student leaders. Her launch week experience convinced her of the importance of working with the right people, those with the right heart. The challenge helps to have conversations about what we are trusting God for together and to articulate and expand the vision of those we work with.

Finally, Alana mentioned that there are other campuses nearby. The KV Challenge could help identify student leaders on those campuses with a heart to reach their own campus. While she didn’t mention circle campuses, she did say that they would certainly need to lead efforts differently.

You can find videos of the KV Challenge, the description of Three-Thirds and more on the videos page of Expedition Teams page on Facebook.

Fall Coaching Tips


Key Volunteer Challenge

Good Monday Morning,

Teams of staff visited campuses where we don’t already have movements in Seattle, LA, and Miami last week for the purpose of launching ministries. I was one of those that went to Miami. We had a great time seeing God lead us to those whom He has prepared to start and lead ministries. This week, another team will be go back to Miami and others will go to Charlotte and Salt Lake City.

Our team initiated conversation with at least 100 students each day on 13 campuses as we looked for potential key volunteers. At least 10 accepted the challenge.

Some time ago, I received Eric and Liz Hiett’s newsletter, describing how they use the Key Volunteer Challenge on their campuses on the Monterey Coast, Central California, and Southern Nevada. I asked Eric how they specifically use the KV Challenge. With some nuances, he pretty much described the typical way to use it, which was what we did too.

“As we go on campus to launch we search for Christian students interested in starting a Christian group…If yes, we then set an appointment for the next week. This [shows] if the student is really interested or not. As we meet with them on the next appointment, we go over the Key Volunteer Challenge. The first question can sometimes be a little difficult as we ask them what they want to see happen on their campus. Many times they talk about social issues. We then answer the question ourselves stating what we believe God wants to see on this campus. Most of the time students understand and agree.

“Then we walk them through Matthew 28:19-20 and ask what Christ is asking us to do. We focus on win, build, and send. Most students agree. We move on to 2 Timothy 2:2 and walk through the discipleship process letting them know that the Lord can use them in reaching out to their campus…

“Then we have them write down 5 people that they can share with (This might be where the network map might come in handy once we have done it with them). Sometimes this can be a struggle especially if they do not have a non-Christian community. We help them to figure it out. We usually get 2 to 3 names on average. Then follow that up with 5 believers they can go through the KV challenge. This is the most difficult one, as they can come up with names but are reluctant to go and actually walk through the challenge with them.  [Occasionally] we go with them and have them watch us…

“If the student says yes and goes for it, we set up another appointment to go out sharing, following up the next time with the Key Volunteer Covenant.  At this point when they sign the covenant, we now know they are on board with us.

“We make it a point to share this with all of our leadership so we can all be on the same page. It is a great aligning tool. We are using this at UC Merced this semester and we have several students involved, with one leading a small group. Once we have at least 2 or 3 students as key volunteers, we then proceed with this group becoming what we call a Three-Thirds group, which is for another day.

“It has been a great tool to get us going.”


Thanks, Eric. What you all are doing is similar to what is happening on campuses and in cities all over the world.

You can find videos the KV Challenge, the description of Three-Thirds and more on the videos page of Expedition Teams page on Facebook.
Fall Coaching Tips

Uh oh! Now what?

You just found out that
…one of your key leaders is transferring.
…or one of your students leading the key leadership students is sleeping with his girlfriend.
…or two of your up and coming leaders are dropping out of school for financial reasons.
…or one of your staff has to pull back to work on ministry partner development.

Now what?

When you assess where you are and realize that for whatever reasons you don’t have the availability or abilities in others that you thought they had, here is the general principle:

“When capacity decreases, focus on building critical mass.”

And while we are considering the subject of building critical mass, here is another general principle:

“When you launch a ministry, look for long-term, indigenous leaders as part of your critical mass.”

Most of us have seen movements start over the years with a great student leader or leaders with relational chemistry. But when those students graduate, sometimes it’s difficult to replicate that same vision in the next generation of leadership. Many of us find that start/restart cycle frustrating.

Now we love it when students lead. But having a faculty member, someone in the administration, a volunteer in the community, or alumni can help provide continuity from one year to the next. Most of our Student LINC coaches find that the best movements we coach have volunteers connected in a significant way.

Long time friend, Lee Davis, working from his home in Oregon, made a habit of meeting volunteers as a part of his campus visits. He called it his “1/3, 1/3, 1/3” plan. He normally coached students from a distance. But if he had a day on a campus, he would meet for two hours with the student leaders, two hours with the faculty advisor and other volunteers helping out, and two hours in the community raising support for the ministry there. This took work and planning on his part. But having the right critical mass ensured the long-term growth and impact of that movement.

So if you find yourself back in a place of acquiring critical mass, let me encourage you to broaden your categories of what counts as critical mass. See if you can:

  • Track down believing alumni from the campus.
  • Connect with Faculty Commons staff to see if they know of any faculty there.
  • Call some local churches to ask if they have faculty or campus administration congregants interested in seeing a ministry start.

Fall Coaching Tips

How to Finish When You Can’t See the Finish Line.

I participate in a MapMyRun phone app challenge called “You vs. the Year.” Last year’s goal was to complete 1000KM but was upped to 1017KM this year.

At this writing, I have 200KM yet to go. Yup, I’m behind. (I’ll spare you the injury report you often get with obsessive runners.) But last year at this time, I received this notice:

“You’ve covered 900KM and that’s no joke. You’re only 100KM away from reaching the end, but we’re not here for the prizes or even for the finish line. We’re here for everything that comes before that. The beautiful struggle, the epic triumph, and the will to say you run with fight. Let’s get it done.”

We still have 6 weeks left in the semester. The goal isn’t to get through it, but to walk with God every day and see what He will do. So how do we keep the “beautiful struggle” and “epic triumph” at this point in the semester.

Sometimes when we are in the middle of the semester, it’s hard to see where we’re going. The end of the semester isn’t right around the corner.

There is still of ton of ministry to do between now and Christmas break with our Winter Conferences, FastBreaks, etc. There’s recruiting. There’s training. There’s delegation. There’s work to do on MPD. There are things that aren’t done yet, like that stack of contacts, thank you notes, that hard conversation with someone you’ve been avoiding.

How do we move forward in the face of the “woulda/coulda/shoulda’s”, the “what if’s”, and the “how am I gonna’s?” Here are a few things to keep it all in perspective. (Some of these come from an unpublished document written several years ago by a Campus Field Ministry National Team working group, Coaching to Shepherd.)

  1. Recognize the reality of fatigue, our discomfort with rejection, our tendency to compare ourselves and others, and when we have gone on auto-pilot in unhealthy ways. Simply recognizing these is a necessary first start.
  2. Keep your walk with the Lord your priority. Choose to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We know what that means. Confessing sin and being filled by faith.
  3. Choose to take thoughts captive. A number of years ago, I memorized 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” These verses help me check what I am giving thought to.
  4. Finally, trust God that you are a fellow worker with God. (2 Corinthians 6:1 NIV) You are in partnership with Him in the details of your day, every step you take and every person you talk with. God has engineered the events in your life and theirs to bring about His purposes.

Here are two helpful resources: Emotional Well-Being and Leading by Dr. Mark McCloskey and Reading Your Gauges by Bill Hybels.

The ongoing monitoring that my phone app provides has helped me run more and be more consistent. In the same way, monitoring my walk with the Lord, along with my gauges and emotional well-being are keys to what I do and how I’m doing. We can’t change the outward circumstances, but we can change how we look at those circumstances.

Fall Coaching Tips

Two Simple Leadership Development Constructs.

Last week I talked about how different personalities have different learning styles. Do we take into account those differences as we guide them toward leadership?

Today I want to remind you about two little constructs that I’m sure you’ve heard about in developing leaders. Here is the first one:

  • I do. You watch. We talk.
  • I do. You help. We talk.
  • You do. I help. We talk.
  • You do. I watch. We talk.
  • You do. Someone else watches.

I think we can infer two principles from this one. First, be intentional about developing others. Second, don’t do for others what they can do for themselves.

That brings me to the second construct. It’s not as obvious. Any kind of skill development takes time and goes through a progression of stages:

  • Unconscious Incompetence.
  • Conscious Incompetence.
  • Conscious Competence.
  • Unconscious Competence.

We begin not knowing what we don’t know. Then we progress to thinking we can’t do what is being asked of us. As we learn how to do something, we really have to focus on what we’re doing the first few times. But with continued usage, the skill becomes ingrained enough that we begin to do it without thinking about it.

This progression is true for any skill development: playing piano, painting a room, driving a car, or sharing our faith. I often think about how distributing ministry to students and volunteers is like teaching my sons to drive. There was only so much modeling I could do with them. But at some point I needed to get out of the driver’s seat and let them take the wheel. In fact, I noticed that they thought they could do K turns, back out of the driveway, and stop smoothly at stop signs, until they tried it themselves. It turned out to be more difficult than they thought. But it was giving them experience that was the key to developing those skills.

Some time ago, Dr. Steve Douglass wrote to us as staff, We are all about spiritual multiplication—which involves passing ownership of ministry on to others. But that won’t happen if we view most of our disciples as “disqualified” for one reason or another.”

“If we find it hard to have faith that God is able to use them, we won’t even try to challenge them toward their potential as a leader. Or, we may embark on a process of discipleship that is so drawn out that people drop out needlessly.

“Am I advocating that we should ignore that people have certain barriers to becoming multipliers? No, not at all. I am just advocating that we:

  • Have faith that God can make people useful to Him.
  • Look for people whose hearts are right before God (“good soil”).
  • Work with them aggressively to use their strengths and grow in their weak areas.
  • Give them a chance to try to minister, perhaps a little sooner than we might think.
  • Encourage them throughout the process.

“Anytime you find yourself reluctant to do these things, think first of one of your own experiences or those of someone you know well. How “perfect” were you when you got started? How skilled were you at evangelism and discipleship? How different are you now than when someone believed in you and let you try?”

As you think about potential leaders, where do they fall on the conscious/competence scale? What are the next appropriate steps to move them to the next stage? And what stands in the way, on our part or theirs, toward helping them take those next steps?

Fall Coaching Tips

Developing Leaders with Different Personalities.

We are all about raising up lifelong laborers. In my experience, leaders are developed, not typically waiting to be found. For the next few weeks, I will focus on developing leaders.

Different doesn’t mean wrong…necessarily. Sometimes, different…is just different.

Consider different personalities in leadership development. For illustration purposes, I’ll use the DiSC assessment. Its four personalities make it a bit easier to see, as opposed to 16 different combinations in the Myers-Briggs, or even the 34 talents of StrengthFinders.

Scenario 1. You assign two students to buy sound equipment to use at the fall retreat. Suppose one is a D, an initiator toward tasks, and the other is an S, a responder to people.

  • The D is bold, takes the bull by the horns, figures out what to do, and is determined and decisive. They make the purchase, checks that off and moves on to the next task.
  • The S is your “steady-eddie”, the consummate team player, somewhat deliberate, someone who will research the best options for the best price, will check “Consumer Reports”, so that it will be a good purchase.

Scenario 2. You assign two students to plan a social to watch the big rivalry game this weekend. One is a high I, an initiator toward people, and the other is a C, one compliant to their own standards.

  • The I, is thinking about how much fun everyone is going to have, how people will connect, how meaningful the conversations will be. They will keep thinking of people to invite up to the last minute and it will be a great time for everyone.
  • The C, will make a list of everything needed for the party, is there enough food for everyone? are all the details thought out? is there something for everyone so that all feel taken care of?

You can draw your own conclusions about how each person’s preferred manner would be an encouragement or a source of frustration to the other. Neither approach is necessarily right or wrong; it just depends on the situation. Again, different isn’t necessarily wrong. Nor is one personality type the proper leadership style for every situation. More often than not, what we think is right is really a matter of personal preference.

Just as there are a variety of leadership styles, there are also a variety of ways that leaders develop. Have you ever had someone ask you to do something? But when you did, they criticized how you did it. In your mind, it seemed like a personality difference, a matter of preference.

Now, criticism is good. Evaluation helps us all to grow and develop. Its always a good rule of thumb to offer 5 positive things for every negative one pointed out.

This brings us back to leadership development. Many of us want to shield our protégé’s from possible motivation deflating circumstances. I think often of a book written a number of years ago, by Erwin Lutzer, Failure: The Backdoor to Success. Most of us learn more through failure than we do through success. Some learn through experience. Some prefer to learn by seeing an example. Some learn by applying principles. Some are motivated by the task.

I don’t think we can say that there is one “Cru way” of leadership development. As you consider those you work with, think about their personality style as well as their preferred learning approach.

Fall Coaching Tips

Collaborative Discipleship

Have you seen the Collaborative Discipleship resource on 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