Archives For August 2010

Weekend Links

August 22, 2010 — 1 Comment

A new survey crowns Lego as the most popular toy ever.  Fast Company magazine with the article and this fascinating video:


Today (Sunday, August 22) is the last day to stream the new Jars of Clay album (coming Oct. 5) – “The Shelter” (and while you’re there download the new song “Out of my Hands” for free).

  • The album “was deeply inspired by an old Irish proverb that says, ‘It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.'” – Great quote on community.
  • I’ve been listening to it all weekend – consistently good but maybe not quite as good as their last two albums (though I’m sure it will grow on me with more listens).  I’ll definitely buy it.

It would take you 600 years to watch all the videos on Youtube.
There are 120 million blogs.

What we need is not more content but better filters.  “The future of the internet is going to be curated content” – copyrighted quote – Tim Casteel – August 22, 2010 🙂

Ben Arment linked this week to a very stylish attempt at curating Youtube videos –

Photo courtesy of Guillermо via flickr.

Books on my Nightstand

August 20, 2010 — 3 Comments

Books on my nightstand that the Amazon fairy recently brought me and some first impressions:

Counterfeit Gods – Tim Keller

  • My credibility may be a little thin on this one (since I love all-things-Keller) but: You have to get this book. If our primary sin is worshipping idols then I, for one, want to understand how to attack them in a Christ-centered way.

God Space: Naturally Creating Room for Spiritual Conversations – Doug Pollock

  • A little cheesy but very practical and short (but I have a strong aversion to all things cheesy.  It’s why I don’t like CCM.  Or country music.  Or Jay Leno. Or certain pastors.  Turn of phrase just doesn’t do it for me, like a pastor saying: “I’d rather have one ‘God idea’ than 100 ‘good ideas’.”  OK, I am a bit of a cynic).
  • I like it.  And it helps that he speaks my language – being on Crusade staff and all.  So when he says “I’ve begun to realize that in most of our conversations, people aren’t ready for our testimonies” I don’t get my feathers all ruffled up.  Yes, he is attacking a sacred Crusade cow.  But at least he knows and loves the cow.  In case you wonder, instead of testimonies he proposes preparing shorter “gospel snacks” (which I agree with) – see, a bit cheesy but very practical and good.

Imaginary Jesus – Matt Mikalatos

  • I think the #1 obstacle in evangelism (at least for us here in the South) is convincing students they don’t know the real Jesus.  This book does that in a very funny, yet clear way.  I’m halfway thru so the verdict is still out but this could be a great tool.

In This Generation – Todd Ahrend

  • A look at what we can learn from the Student Volunteer Movement as we seek to mobilize students.  Really great insights from one of the leading experts on mobilizing college students to go to the world.

Just Walk Across the Room – Bill Hybels

  • Great stories and illustrations re: Relational Evangelism.  Bill (whatever you may think of his church philosophy) is extremely passionate about sharing Christ and I NEED to be around people like that.  We will be using these ideas heavily with our students this fall as we seek to become experts in relational evangelism

The Forgotten Ways – Alan Hirsch

  • Really long with tiny print (Call me lazy but I like short and to the point.  I prefer the term “efficient”) AND Brian McLaren recommends it.  2 strikes.  But it looks intriguing – especially the idea of building Communitas – Small group communities with a purpose

Questioning Evangelism – Randy Newman

  • Haven’t started this one yet but comes highly recommended as THE best book on relational evangelism.  I’m trying to figure out how to better train students in this area (as you can tell from my stack of books on the topic).

Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the GospelJ. Mack Stiles

  • Short and to the point but a little dry so far.  Not a methods books.  More of a theological look at the gospel and evangelism (Polar opposite from Hybels’ book).  Some good insights so far.

photo courtesy of radiospike photography via Flickr

The best new outreach idea we’re trying for the fall is Facebook. You may have heard of it.

Outreach by definition is an effort by an organization to connect its ideas to the general public.

You take your ideas to the audience.

And where is our audience?  On Facebook!

We’ve done quite a bit with Facebook in the past – advertising, Cru group, events, etc.

But a Facebook Fan Page is a whole ‘nother deal.

First off – you should subscribe to Brian Barela’s blog (click here for an explanation of the life-changing discovery of how to subscribe to blogs).  You would know all this stuff already if you read his blog and another blog he contributes to:

This is our strategy this fall as we meet freshmen (courtesy of Brian Barela):

  • Add them as a friend on Facebook
  • Click the “add a message” box
  • Write something like this: “Hi this is Tim from Cru – you filled a card expressing interest and I just wanted to invite you to come to Cru on Tuesday at 8:30.  Please also join our fan page:”

Before I start, let me shoot down your main excuse (at least it was mine):

  • “I don’t know anything about setting stuff up on Facebook and I don’t have time right now to learn” – I had a student set it up (I attached below the email I sent out to solicit help- just copy and paste!).  I guarantee you have a student who would be willing and able to do it.

First the Why’s, then the How’s:

  • Facebook is where students live.  Go where students are.
  • It’s free.  We all know advertising isn’t cheap.  But thru a Facebook Fan Page you can “advertise” your events on a site where 99% of your target audience spends hours every day
  • It’s interactive – students can comment and ask questions.
  • You can get a custom URL for free (website name):
  • Fan Pages are way more “viral” than Groups.  So we’re shifting from a Facebook Group to a Fan Page.  Check out this informative video explaining why from Brian Barela.

And best of all: It’s pretty easy to work the system (by “liking” the fan page, commenting on it, etc) to where your Cru Fan Page will show up on the News Feed of anyone your students are friends with.

How do you set one up?

  • Here’s a step by step video on how to do it (from Brian Barela again!).

We watched this video in staff meeting yesterday – it builds a great case for why we HAVE to engage in social media:

Here’s an email you can adapt to solicit help from students.

GDE Error: Unable to load profile settings

Weekend Links

August 13, 2010 — Leave a comment

This is big – CruPress Green is Live.  Most of you within Campus Crusade knew this was out, but for those outside of Crusade, here’s a few highlights of what’s on this free site:

  • Bible Study Materials for 4 years (called Cru.comm)
  • Discipleship Materials (called The Compass) – 60 REALLY good discipleship lessons.  And Roger Hershey’s talks on Discipleship and the 4 articles on “How to Disciple” are phenomenal.
  • Free Posters and Publicity
  • Best-of-the-best Resources.   For a starter, go download The Music of the Gospel.  One of the best explanations and metaphors I’ve heard on gospel-centered ministry and living.

iPhone killing another industry

By far, my favorite thing about my new iPhone is the hi-def video camera and much-improved camera.  Canon/Sony/Flip should be very concerned.  I haven’t touched my Sony video camera since I got my new phone.  And why do you need to have a point and shoot when you have one already on your phone? The only downside I’ve seen so far: the video is a little shaky (it’s hard to hold the iPhone still).

I bet in a couple years the majority of people will only want two things for their photography/video needs: a nice DSLR camera and an iPhone.

Check out these cool magnetic camera lenses for smartphones.

Interesting infographic from Newsweek on what has changed digitally in the past 10 years.  Think some of these might affect our spiritual lives (and those we minister to) a bit?  One example: in 2000 we spent an avg of 2.7 hours online every week.  2010=18 hours a week.

Part 5 in a series on seeking to better understand our college audience from the research of the book Souls in Transition

Settling Down is for Later – College is a time to have fun.

I know. Not exactly ground breaking. But read some of the excerpts from Souls in Transition explaining this mindset of Emerging Adults and tell me this doesn’t have huge repercussions for ministry:

Rather than being settled, most of them understand themselves to be in a phase of life that is free, fluid, tentative, experimental, and relatively unbound. They want to enjoy it while it lasts. Here a bit of tension over life goals is expressed. They want to acquire independence and the ability to stand on their own two feet. But most of them also do not want full adulthood to come too quickly.

Someday in the future, when they’ve got their youthful passions worked out of their systems, then they will settle down.

Furthermore, when it comes to romantic relationships and sex, many – if not most – emerging adults see little connection between their lives now before settling down and the lives they will live later after having settled down.  Now . . . they can party, hook up with strangers, and generally play at being wild.  Later, when they settle down they’ll be sober, faithful, and responsible adults. The assumption seems to be “whatever happens in my early twenties stays in my early twenties”

As one young man said, ‘I think people should have a career and good income before getting married. Maybe get a lot of stuff out of your system, like messing around with girls and stuff, or partying, get that our of your system. Get all that stuff out of your system before you get married.  Once you get married, you won’t be able to do all that stuff.

The problem?  That “Stuff” doesn’t get out of your system.  That stuff is in you.  Sin is not external to you.  It is in your heart.  Lust is not a switch you can flip off when you get married.  You have the same heart.  The same sinful desires.

“They reflect only slight awareness that they may now even in small ways be establishing patterns and priorities. . . that will carry through the rest of their lives.”   pg. 71

We interviewed a student named Pete last spring who, I think, speaks for most college students.  He would likely call himself a Christian (as most students at the University of Arkansas do) but lives the wild college life – partying and hooking up with girls.

We asked him what he and his friends thought of Cru.

His response, “Most of my friends in my fraternity just want to have a good time in college.  So they don’t want to come to Cru or a Bible study because they don’t want to be good, they don’t want to be perfect right now.  They want to make mistakes and party and have sex with girls.”

So how do we reach Pete and his friends?  What have you seen that has worked?

We’re talking about this topic this morning at our team’s staff planning so I’ll share anything we come up with.

photo courtesy of Szymon Kochański via flickr

Getting Past Irrelevance

August 12, 2010 — 9 Comments

The random picture will be explained below.

Helping Students find Purpose (when they’re not looking for it).
There was some great discussion/comments on yesterday’s post The Chief End of College Students so I thought I’d solicit more specific help.

Crowd-source my ministry planning.

Using your collective genius to help us better reach college students with the gospel.

Stehanie N. summarized the question well in the comments yesterday:

“I understand that they aren’t already thinking about Life Purpose…but is it possible to get them there? And then create doubt about whether their ladder is leaning against the right wall, so to speak?”

So yesterday AM, our staff team spent about an hour looking for practical application points for our ministry. Here’s what we came up with in our first pass. I’m not posting this because we figured it out – I’m posting because maybe you/your team have found some things that work.

So if you would, take a look at what we came up with as a team and let me know what you’d add/subtract/change, etc.

It’s a bit long but hopefully very practical:

The main “solution” we came up with in “Getting Past Irrelevance” is relationships. As we see it, there is no one shot solution. It will take a sustained relationship and many conversations to help students see the incredible relevance of the gospel.

Just to be clear: we’re not going the relational evangelism route because we’re scared to share the gospel up front. Us? Scared? Please! If Campus Crusade drove a truck, we’d have 30 “Aint Skeered” and “No Fear” stickers plastered on our back windshield.

It’s just that our boldness with the gospel in the past (speaking for our team) has fallen on deaf ears because it’s filtered out thru the “not relevant to my life right now” auto-reflex of college students. So we will be bold by creating tension and then presenting the gospel.

Our vision statement is relational and provides the solution: “Equipping students so that everyone knows someone who passionately follows Jesus”.
As they really know (go thru life side by side) with a passionate Christ-follower they will see what is lacking in their own life (tension).
Then we can present the message of the gospel – because they have ears to hear.

So the long term solution is a relationship where the gospel is lived out and explicitly communicated through many mini-gospel presentations (best done in a conversational, “this is how the gospel is humbling me to the ground right now and how I’m finding hope in the grace/love of Christ right now”).

To get really practical, what do we do during the initial conversation?

  • In our particular situation, we have 2,000 contact cards at the beginning of the year. And hundreds of follow up appointments in the first few weeks. And throughout the year we (staff and students) are trying to “stir the pot” with whomever we talk to on campus, trying to start spiritual conversations. How do get past irrelevance in this initial conversation?

Here’s what we’ve done in the past on follow up appts:

  • Explain who we are as Cru and what we offer.
  • If the conversation is still moving along (i.e. their eyes aren’t glazed over), ask the Kennedy Questions (If you were to die tonight, how sure are you that you would go to heaven? & If God said, why should I let you into heaven, what would you say?) and try to share the gospel
  • If the conversation has hit a wall, yell as they’re slamming the door: “OK, so Tuesday night is Cru and we’ll see you at Bible study tomorrow night right???”
  • The goal – to invite them to a meeting/Bible study and share the gospel with them

Maybe we just suck at ministry but this hasn’t yielded much fruit for us (anyway you measure it – conversions, involvement in Cru, etc)

Here’s our best shot at a new approach – The goal of the initial conversation is to get a second relational connection (going to a movie, lunch the next day, a Bible study, playing Ultimate Frisbee). The primary goal of the first appointment is to launch a long-term relationship.

And to try to create tension starting with the first appointment or encounter.  Some ideas we had:

  • Quote/paraphrase Acts 17 – From before Creation God “determined the times set for you and the exact places where you should live.”
  • So God has you here at the U of A for a determined purpose.
  • So why do you think God has you here? What do you hope to get out of college?”
  • Their probable answer: “Get a degree. Meet People. Have a good time.”
  • Our response: ?????

That’s where we’re a bit stuck. How do you increase the tension in a conversational/non-preachy way: “I’ve arrived at the solution, let me tell you how yours is wrong”?   Because I think if you do that – you lose them again.

One idea – Use CCC’s Soularium cards and ask them to pick a couple pictures that best represent:
1. What drives you in life? What motivates you?
2. What does your spiritual life like now?
3. What would you like your spiritual life to look like by the time you graduate?

So help us out – what has worked for you in “Getting Past Irrelevance”. Additionally, how do you ratchet up tension in a bold yet conversational/non-preachy way.

photo courtesy of slambo_42 via Flickr (with the obvious Aint Skeered/CCC adaption)

One of the first rules of communication is “Know Your Audience”.  As we seek to communicate the life changing message of the gospel to this generation of college student, we have to understand their world.

Every day this week during our team’s staff planning we are getting to know a different aspect of our audience.

This morning we’ll be looking at: “What Drives College Students – What is their purpose in life?”. The book Souls in Transition, thru careful research, presents a fascinating view into the minds of the current generation of college students.

Here’s what the authors found:

“Some emerging adults have settled on what seems to be a clear and strong sense of purpose in life.  But they are the minority.”

So what Drives College Students, what do they organize their life around? The short answer: Themselves.

The fuller answer reveals

  • A driving focus
  • A long term goal
  • And thus the (perceived) irrelevance of religion/God:

Driving Focus = Standing on One’s Own

“The central, fundamental, driving focus in life of nearly all emerging adults is getting themselves to the point where they can “stand on their own two feet”.  Life’s major challenge for them is transitioning from dependence to independence, from reliance on others to self-sufficiency, from being under others’ authority and eye to living on their own.”   pg 34

Long Term Goal = Materially Comfortable Life

Most of the transitions, the figuring new things out, and the learning to stand on one’s own has the long-run goal of enjoying a materially comfortable life.  [The interviewees were asked] what they wanted out of life, to describe their life goals and dreams.  Nearly all of them replied with some version of the same essential answer: finish education, get a good job, marry, have children, buy a nice house with a yard, raise a family, become financially secure, drive reliable cars, enjoy family vacations, enjoy good relationships, maybe have a dog.  In short, nearly all spoke sincerely as if they still believed in the American Middle-class dream. Respondents voiced very few alternative life dreams, like achieving major social reforms, living overseas, serving the poor, or pursuing any other alternative lifestyles.  pg. 69

Unfortunate, all too common by-product of those two: Religion is irrelevent to life right now

One student summed it up well: “I’m not really involved with that type of thinking [religion] right now.  I’m really involved in my life and where I’m heading right now.”  pg. 145

“Emerging adults are primarily dedicated in this phase of their lives to achieving their own financial, identity and household independence from their parents.  Serious religious faith and practice do not necessarily directly conflict with that mission, but they are not crucial or intrinsic to it either.”   pg. 76

Those three things – 2 things they organize their life around, and 1 (religion) that they don’t – HAVE to affect how we do ministry.

Their focus has to be transferred from self to God.  They are not “captain of my ship master of my soul”.

They have to be shown a greater purpose.

But the third one is what it all rests on – how do you even get your foot in the door (to talk about 1&2) when Joe Freshmen you’re talking to dismisses you out of hand because he’s not buying what you’re selling? Your message is irrelevant to him.

I would LOVE to hear any thoughts you have.   How do you overcome this perceived irrelevance?

photo courtesy of depinniped via flickr

Planning is honestly one of my favorite times of the year. We do serious planning (5 days, 9-noon) three times a year: August, December, May.  Love it.

To use Stephen Covey’s metaphor, we spend the entire year climbing furiously up the ladder – planning is a time to make sure our ladder is leaning against the right wall.

We start our week long staff planning this morning. So here’s some planning-themed inspiration to help you get ready.

The most practical advice I’ve heard in the past few years came from Tim Henderson who leads the Cru ministry at Penn State (Tim and his team put out incredible resources under the name Centerfield Productions).

I call it Buckets and Holes. I’m sure Tim Henderson has a more official name for it than that.

Here’s how Tim puts it: “How do we spend what we have to solve our problems, meet our goals, and increase what we have for next year and its problems?”

Here’s the (abbreviated) idea in two parts (the second one, for me, was the new insight).  For your ministry, for this year:

  1. What are the holes/problems (this step is common for most strategic planning)?
  2. What are the buckets we have to draw from?  What do we currently have that we can use to solve those problems?

Fleshed out, here’s what that looks like for us this year:

  1. Hole: our leadership numbers at our weekly training time have plateaued over the past few years.  If we want to reach the entire campus, we need more equipped laborers.
  2. Buckets: Our weekly meeting is not a problem to be solved.  It’s a giant bucket of cash.  We’ve got great momentum and incredible student leaders attending who love Jesus.  So we plan to use our weekly meeting to address our Laborer Hole.  A few other buckets we plan to use: we have a lot of great students leading Bible studies; we have a lot of students who choose to live in the dorms to have a ministry.

The Goal = To turn your holes into buckets. In 2011, we hope to be able to see that laborers is no longer a problem but a bucket that we can draw from to address the inevitable holes of 2011.

So we spend an entire hour during planning filling out two big post-it posters on what our Holes and Buckets are.  We narrow it down to 3-4 Holes we will tackle this Fall and then start playing connect the dots, connecting Buckets with Holes.

There’s actually 4 steps to the entire process and this PDF from Tim Henderson shows a very clear overview of the full process (right click to download):

GDE Error: Unable to load profile settings

Some Bonus Planning Quotes to get you fired up about planning!

Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior. – Dee Hock

You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. — Alvin Toffler

The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas. — Linus Pauling

photo courtesy of rubyblossom via flickr

My #1 skill I need to grow in as a leader – How to explain myself.

Yesterday a writer for the University newspaper (a muslim girl) called and interviewed me about our Cru ministry.  Her simple question= explain our ministry.  Really simple right?  Should have a canned talk in my back pocket.  But I froze up.  How do you explain a compelling vision to a complete (antagonistic) outsider?

I can plan ministry.  Do ministry.  Just don’t ask me to talk about ministry.

“Just about anyone in the professional world is, in effect, a professional speaker. Every single idea in the history of the business world had to be explained to at least one other person before it got approved, funded or purchased by anyone else.”       Scott Berkun – “The Myths of Innovation”

I’d rather do than talk about doing.  Plan well, work hard, and let people read between the lines and figure out how well things are going and want to jump in.  If we’re doing a good job in ministry, students/volunteers/supporters will want to join with us.

But it doesn’t work like that.  As a leader, speaking about what you’re doing is just as important as what you’re doing.

“Despite dreams of a world in which the best ideas win simply because they should, we live in a world where the fate of ideas hinges on how well you talk about what you’ve made, or what you want to make.  I see too many inventors and executives who see speaking about their work as the least important thing they do. And it shows.” – Scott Berkun

A painful example in my life –

When it comes to support raising, it’s not enough to be working hard and doing a great job in ministry.  We have to communicate well to the outside world about our ministry.

Matt Perman has a great post on this with more quotes from Scott Berkun on his blog (one of my top 3 favorites) What’s Best Next.

This is a major reason why I’m blogging.  To get better at communicating.   Two Giants on Leadership: Seth Godin and Tom Peters sum it up perfectly.

Seth Godin: Blogging is free.  It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it.  What matters is the humility that comes from writing it and the metacognition of thinking about what you are going to say.  How do you explain yourself.

Tom Peters: No single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important to my life than blogging.

Watch the 1 minute video here:


photo courtesy of Lorraine Elder via Flickr

If you’re in college ministry it would be worth your time to go over to the Faith on Campus Blog-a-thon and read for a little bit.  Great to hear from different perspectives (denominations, church/para-church).

My favorite posts so far:

First Month: Discipling, Not Just Recruiting

  • What if every ministry made a point to tell students for the first three weeks that
  1. We love the other college ministries, and
  2. We want you to pick just one?
  • Want to know one of the best “unity efforts” I’ve seen around the country? It’s when multiple ministries on a campus have decided (purposely) to hold their weekly Large Group Meetings on the same night. At first blush, this sounds like competition; they’ve done it to help students make a choice.

4000 Ways to Maximize the First Four Weeks – I plan on having my staff team read this post during our staff planning next week.

  • You will never be larger than your first weekly meeting
  • By the end of the fourth week of school your ministry foundation will be established for better or for worse.
  • Connect everyone to your Facebook Fan Page (have students add freshmen they’re meeting as  friends on Facebook and include in the message a link to your Facebook Fan Page)

photo courtesy of minifig via Flickr