Archives For January 2011

Part 4 in the We Need Better Leaders than Came Before series. Here are parts 1, 2, & 3.

If we’re going to have a movement that Raises up Better Leaders than Came Before, here are two things we need to figure out:

  1. Raising up Leaders who can also administrate
  2. Creating systems that make it easier for students to be leaders of leaders

I’ve figure out enough to know that we need to work on these 2, but I don’t know what the solution looks like. That’s where you come in.

Raising up Leaders who can also administrate

  • Often students are either great people gatherers OR logistical/organizational leaders.
  • As Andrew commented on the original post: “As for the complexity created by a larger group, it seems like the additional need would be mostly managerial.” They not only have to be good leaders “but now they have to be better managers too.”
  • An example from our ministry: A student leading an area of campus now has 6 Bible studies and 12 leaders to lead instead of just (in the past) leading his/her own study.
  • They have to be good administrators.
  • But that’s not enough. Because they’re not just organizing. They have to be leaders of leaders. They have to be able to mobilize students leaders who are very high caliber leaders (and maybe won’t respond to students they don’t respect as leaders).


Creating systems that make it easier for students to be leaders of leaders

  • We want our students to lead like staff (to be leaders who produce more leaders)
  • And we want our staff to lead like Campus Directors (to think of the movement as a whole- not just their piece, to lead autonomously, to be problem solvers, etc)
  • To quote Andy Stanley: “Systems create behaviors”
  • So, for students, how do we create systems where it is natural (through the course of time involved) and normal (it’s not the exception but the rule) for our students to become leaders of leaders?
  • Practical steps toward that: cast vision for it and spotlight leaders are who are doing it. But that’s not a system.
  • I guess for us, our system would be challenging students to join our weekly Leadership Hour where they often hear the aforementioned steps.

  • Your turn – How do we create systems where it is natural and normal for our students to become leaders of leaders?
    Also – any ideas on growing students’ ability to both lead and administrate?



photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks

Matt McComas’ comment on a post earlier this week made me think of the phenomenal “Principles God Honors” article by Jim Sylvester (possibly the world’s longest “article” at 145 pages!).

Matt works with Cru in Portland and commented “Totally dealing with the drift toward ease [in discipling whomever] with our staff. Especially in light of launching a new ministry and selection is pretty limited.” I can only imagine, in a city with very few Christians, it would be easy to settle.

Here’s Jim’s brilliant insight:

Here is an important Concept: “More happens in five years that I could ever imagine, but less happens in one year than I would hope”.

When developing a new staff member who is beginning a brand new ministry, or someone who is opening up a new campus, I would often explain that the first stage is to simply find one person. That will be a successful step forward. It may take you a whole year to find one person, and that is okay. This has been a marvelously successful year if you have found someone who shares your love for the Lord and your heart to see the campus reached.  Your second step is to find a second person. This will also be a marvelous step forward if at the end of this period of time, be it a year or more, you have found a second person who is on board. This person shares your vision for turning lost students into Christ-centered laborers. He or she wants to be a part of it and is willing to make sacrifices to do so. The next step is to find a third and fourth person, and the step after that is to find the eighth, then the sixteenth person.  Frankly, I believe the next step is to find the fortieth person.

As I’ve observed, it takes a ministry as much effort to go from one to two as it does to go from two to four, from four to eight, or from sixteen to forty. It seems like each of those steps involves the same amount of time and effort to grow at that pace. You can see how this relates far more to a long-term plan that builds upon itself in consecutive years as opposed to a short term plan.

I’ll try post more thoughts from Jim’s article in the coming weeks. So much gold in there.

Midweek Ministry Thoughts

January 26, 2011 — 3 Comments
  • Just had a thought today: It seems like so many students nowadays study abroad, what if we actually promoted (at our weekly meeting) the idea of STINT-ing while studying abroad. One of our sharpest girl leaders is doing that next year in Buenos Aires. Usually, students studying abroad means losing a key leader for a year and them not walking with God for a year. But I could get really excited about it if we were SENDING them out to the world. What do y’all think? Is that a workable idea (to STINT and study abroad concurrently)?

  • Benson Hines has a great post on investing a disproportionate amount of time investing in training (and I would add, raising up) small group leaders.

  • I’ve recently started following a bunch of students on Twitter. It’s been so good for understanding their world. And an easy way for me to connect with them quickly via responses to their tweets. When I see them at Cru I feel like I really know them (as opposed to them just being another freshman whose name I can’t recall).  And it has led to the next idea. . .

  • During our weekly training time, we often have students share what God is doing across campus. It’s always my favorite part of the gathering. And students get to hear and be challenged by their peers. It makes it feel like everyone is passionately representing Christ (“I’m not alone repping him my little dorm). We recently (OK, today) just started using our ArkansasCru twitter account to broadcast what God is doing all across campus so that daily students (who follow us) can hear what God is doing and be spurred on (and praise God). Up until this point we’ve just used it (and we hardly use it) to spam tell everyone when we have events. Three examples from today (from three freshmen!):
  • RT @Brittonwilson My prayer journal entry just now was crazy sloppy & it makes me really happy! Excited about praying for my lost friends!
  • RT @modern_mafia: Gotta love it when God answers prayers right after listening to a speaker talk about the importance of prayer
  • RT @nikimangan: Just spent 2 hours filling out an intense application to spend 3 weeks in Ethiopia this summer with @arkansascru! So excited!

In addition to some of the positive ideas stated yesterday in How to Raise Up Better Leaders than Came Before (mostly: raise up passionate followers of Christ who really get the gospel!), here are some problems we need to Fight Against and Figure Out.

Fight Against (more on these below)

  • Drift Toward Ease
  • Practical Atheism

Figure out (we’ll tackle this one tomorrow)

  • Raising up Leaders who can also administrate
  • Systems that make it easier for students to “lead up”


Drift toward ease

I’ve noticed that unless vision for Focusing on the Right People is constantly preached, many of our staff and students tend to disciple students who are much less gifted leaders than themselves.

Here’s a few theories on why:

It’s safe and easy

  • They’re super-available and we have no doubt that they will eat up everything we say

Fear that we don’t have what it takes/Fear of rejection

  • It’s intimidating (even for staff!) to approach that really sharp freshman leader who just oozes confidence
  • I can vividly recall my second year as a director – I discipled a guy who was the president of his fraternity and I ended up not meeting with him much because I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer him.

We like to be needed

  • “The fact is that many people in leadership roles gravitate toward hurting, draining, time-consuming people because they have a need to be needed.” – Dave Kraft (this entire post from What’s Best Next will be the best Leadership thing you read all week)

One resource to fight this drift is Tim Henderson’s article The Right People for Discipleship that is written to students and is phenomenal on communicating the why’s and how’s of pursuing Better Leaders.


Practical Atheism

  • Craig Groeschel describes this as someone who believes in God but lives as if He doesn’t exist
  • In this case it would be: really strategizing and thinking through how to raise up better leaders, and forgetting that God has to show up for his kingdom to grow on our campus
  • Ps 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
  • We have to fight against putting our trust in better leaders
  • It seems that the “easy” solution to this one is prayer and expressing utter dependence on God to move and raise up incredible leaders who will spread His fame
  • We still plan and strategize like crazy
  • All the time remembering- We’re like the guys setting up the Inauguration Parade route– setting up bleachers, preparing the route – so the path is clear for the Reigning King to pass through and receive adoration


What are some ways you’ve found to fight against the Drift Toward Ease and Practical Atheism?



photo courtesy of Peer.Gynt


A while back I wrote a post We need better Leaders than came before that raised a lot of questions but didn’t resolve anything.

It’s something we’ve been wrestling with as a team and, I think, an important issue to think through as your movement grows.

So let’s jump back into it over the next couple of days.

Here’s the (abbreviated) problem stated in 2 contradicting statements:

  1. “In building a movement, the students currently involved have to be better leaders than the previous generation because the movement is larger and more complex”
  2. John Maxwell’s Law of the Lid says good leaders (10’s) won’t follow lesser leaders (5’s)

If these two statements are true (and in my experience they almost always are) how is it possible for students to raise up better leaders than themselves?



On the original post Andrew had some great comments (his full comments are worth the read). Springboarding off of his comments (noted in quotations below),

Here are some thoughts on how students can raise up better leaders than themselves:


Cast vision

“When students are talking to better leaders, focus on vision casting. If you are able to paint a compelling picture of the cause, then you may be able to attract higher leadership levels because they are compelled by the cause. In other words, make it about more than just following you.
”

To quote Russ Martin: “leaders are big picture people, use big pictures!”


Focus on student ownership

“When students are given opportunities to lead/manage, they are able to use those opportunities for leadership growth.”

Students can grow rapidly in leadership when given lots of leadership experience right from the beginning of their involvement with us. I think we ask too little from freshmen.


Age Disparity

For the most part, students enter college as kids and graduate as adults. What does that have to do with raising up better leaders than came before? Age disparity enables a Senior who is a 5 to raise up freshman (who looks up to him as a wise sage) who will be a 10.


Godly Passion Trumps Everything

A few years ago we had a student (John) involved in our ministry who’s was a 5 at most (to put it in cold, John Maxwell terms). He wouldn’t look you in the eye when you talked to him. He was difficult to have a conversation with. But John led a Bible study full of phenomenal leaders- a couple guys in his study were Fraternity pledge class presidents and every single one was a better leader than John.

What drew them to John?

John came to Christ in college and never got over the gospel. It gripped him and he couldn’t help but passionately pursue everyone around him and invite them to experience Jesus.

As Andrew commented, “Give me a 5 who prays and lives out what he preaches over a 10 who can get the most people to the Cru meeting any day.”


Tomorrow – we’ll look at barriers to raising up better leaders than came before (besides the Law of the Lid).


What else would you add? How can we better foster a movement where students are raising up better leaders than came before?



photo courtesy of wildphotons

Weekend Links 1-21-11

January 21, 2011 — Leave a comment


This article has an interesting prediction on Twitter and Facebook.  I tend to agree:

Twitter and Facebook are no longer both general social networks.

My prediction is that Twitter will become a platform where you can connect with some people in their professional lives, and Facebook will continue to be the platform where you can connect with most people in their personal lives.



This is fun and interesting – The United States of Surnames (via Alltop)

National Geographic has put together an interesting map showing the popularity of surnames in different parts of the United States. Each surname is color coded to indicate origin and the font size relates to number of people with each surname per state.



Great thoughts from Ben Arment – It’s Okay to Say No


Who doesn’t love a good infographic? I thought this one was interesting – Fed Ex vs. UPS – (via Challies)


And since, like me, you haven’t watched any soccer since the World Cup we’ll end with this – some unfathomable soccer ineptness:


Biblical Planning

January 17, 2011 — 2 Comments

“What I would like to do here is to try to persuade you to set aside time each week in the coming year to plan—and specifically to plan your life of prayer and devotion and ministry.”



Some great admonition from John Piper from almost 3 decades ago: A New Years Plea – Plan!  The entire article is brief and well worth the read.

His assertion is that God’s spirit often arrives ready to work in us and he finds, due to poor planning, we’re not ready for him to work.

Here’s how I’m going to use the article in my initial discipleship appointments with my staff and students:

  1. First: Work thru the verses on planning that Piper lists out (thru Proverbs and the example of Paul) and help my staff/students come to the conclusion that Piper draws from Proverbs: “Careful planning is part of what makes a person wise and productive. Not to plan is considered foolish and dangerous.”
  2. Second: Have them map out a plan for the semester – especially focused on their walk with God and their ministry. Do this using the example of Paul as drawn out by Piper: “He had a general guideline: he wanted to preach where no one had preached before. Then he developed a specific plan from this guideline”.  Application- “OK Joe Staff.  You want to launch a Bible study in that dorm and lead guys to Christ.  What do you need to do first?  Then what? How are you going to work that into your schedule? When will you spend time there?”
  3. Third: Have them map out when they will plan every week specifically for ministry for the following week. To look ahead to the coming week and set up appointments, plan discipleship and Bible study material, etc..  For us, it will probably be Friday afternoon.


Another great application point for those of us on Staff with Campus Crusade:

  • As staff we get to take an entire once a month to spend with God.  Piper expects that his staff would use that day to plan their spiritual lives.  For some reason I’ve never thought about using my day with the Lord in that way – planning.  I always use it devotionally and often reactively – just catching my breath spiritually (if that makes sense).  What if we used that day proactively to plan out our spiritual well-being for the month so that every day/week would be fruitful.


What have you found helpful as you plan and help others plan their ministry/devotions?



photo courtesy of koalazymonkey

God-Music-Culture – an ongoing series exploring the many connections between music and spirituality

Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.

Andrew Fletcher – 18th Century Scottish Writer



You can learn a lot about the beliefs of a culture, especially the young people, by the songs that are sung.

Music shapes our culture. And Music reflects our culture.

It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg situation. I think, often, music reflects a small segment of the culture and is a megaphone to spread that view to the masses (thus eventually shaping the culture).


Hip Hop music is a perfect example of that:
“Hip Hop, like all art, holds up a mirror to society and shows us who we are. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or you agree with every message – it reflects what many people are thinking and feeling. And that’s why we all need to pay attention” – Oprah


Last night I watched Jay-Z Master Class from Oprah’s new OWN channel (watch the video below).
This entire series looks incredible.


Most of the video deals with his life and career. Some interesting insights from Jay-Z:

  • On Success/Failure: “I’ve learned everything from failures. I haven’t figured out how to learn from success yet.”
  • He spent the first 35 years of his life dealing with anger and brokenness from an absent father


  • The last part of the video (part 4 of 4) deals with Jay-Z’s faith. His views as Oprah says, “hold up a mirror to society – [they] show us who we are”.
    Jay-Z has a very All-American Postmodern (Oprah-esque) mix of beliefs in Karma, a pluralistic God, and being true to oneself.

  • “I think people who are reading the Koran and who are reading the Bible are really reading about the same person. I think we’re all praying to one God.”
  • Jay-Z does believe in a creator based on how amazing the design of human body is; he can’t believe that we just started from a big bang.
  • In an interesting conclusion, he highlights a hole in his belief in Karma belief. In speaking about the untimely death of his nephew : “I really can’t figure out that day– Just the most beautiful respectful kid. . . and I really can’t apply that to anything” [meaning, I think, “I can’t apply Karma to that]


  • And in a line straight out of a Joel Osteen book, Oprah ends with, “Follow what is true for you. Follow your own instincts. You will become the best that you can be.”

    What are your thoughts on the video and how Jay-Z’s views mirror the religious views of today’s youth?




    photo courtesy of NRK P3

    Weekend Links

    January 14, 2011 — 3 Comments

    I’m trying to ease myself back into this Blogging thing. So we’ll start with some Weekend Links.


    We could all learn a lot from John Piper. But, in my opinion, one of the best things we can learn from him is brutal honesty in confessing his sin. Piper’s report on his leave of absence (via Justin Taylor) is striking in its honesty in revealing his deep heart sins (specifically in his marriage).  Read the whole thing here.

    “I would label my decades-long, besetting (and I hope weakening) sins in this relationship as selfishness, self-pity, anger, blaming, and sullenness (all of them species of pride). There are others, but these are close to the root of our troubles.”



    As Ken Cochrum tweeted: this is “required reading for anyone serious about online ministry: the future of connections”
    Time Magazine – Person of the Year – Mark Zuckerberg

    An utterly fascinating, and surprisingly deep, article.

    Relationships on Facebook have a seductive, addictive quality that can erode and even replace real-world relationships. Friendships multiply with gratifying speed, and the emotional stakes stay soothingly low; where there isn’t much privacy, there can’t be much intimacy either. It’s like an emotional Ponzi scheme, where you keep putting energy in and getting it back tenfold, even though the dividends start to feel a little fake.

    For all its industrial efficiency and scalability, its transhemispheric reach and its grand civil integrity, Facebook is still a painfully blunt instrument for doing the delicate work of transmitting human relationships. It’s an excellent utility for sending and receiving data, but we are not data, and relationships cannot be reduced to the exchange of information or making binary decisions between liking and not liking, friending and unfriending

    Facebook is the bottle, and we’re the genie. How small are we willing to make ourselves to fit inside?



    Another very insightful article – Andy Crouch’s The Ten Most Significant Cultural Trends of the Last Decade

    #1 – Connections: “What did not take off in the 2000s was “virtual reality”—a world constructed entirely of disembodied bits, populated by avatars and existing only in the realm of the ideal. As the 2000s ended, the virtual-reality world Second Life was on virtual life support.  Instead, we used technology to reinforce our embodied relationships.”

    #4 – The End of the Majority – “White Americans were still a bare majority of the population by the end of the decade, but in delivery rooms they were already only a plurality (the largest of many minorities).  We are all minorities now.”


    2010 was a year rife with bad Logo makeovers, here’s the Worst Logo Makeovers of 2010 .  Here’s the Best.


    The following news was mind blowing to me. How did I miss the memo that you aren’t supposed to put two spaces after a period?

    Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.

    In my first year of blogging these were the most popular posts from 2010.  I’d love to hear your thoughts – keep the discussion going on each of these posts!

    1. Focus on the right people – Do ministry thru others

    • “The people you spend the majority of your time with can and will determine whether you are an effective or ineffective leader.”
    • Staff’s #1 job is not to do ministry but to empower students to have a ministry.

    2. The Chief End of College Students

    • Because of their life goals, God is (perceived as) irrelevant to the life of a college student

    3. Getting Past Irrelevance

    • How to help Students find Purpose (when they’re not looking for it)

    4. We need better leaders than came before

    • “In building a movement, the students currently involved have to be better leaders than the previous generation because the movement is larger and more complex”

    5. Biblical Dating in a Hookup Culture

    • Notes/Powepoint/Video from a Dating Talk I gave at Cru
    • It’s the best received talk I’ve ever given

    6. Focus on right people – Followability

    • How will college students come to Christ?  They will Follow other students to Him.
    • What can we do to develop “followability” in students?

    7. Pancake vs. Waffle

    • The college campus has changed dramatically in the past 50 years.
    • It used to be a pancake.
    • Now it’s a waffle.

    8. Buckets and Holes Planning

    • “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?”

    9. My Favorite Blogs

    • I always enjoy a glimpse into others’ favorite sites online.  Here’s mine.

    10. We’re all professional speakers

    • It’s not enough to work hard and do a great job in ministry.  We HAVE to learn to communicate well about our ministry.



    photo courtesy of Vitó