Archives For February 2011

This is part 2 of a guest series on Focus in Discipleship by Tim Norman. To catch up, read his first post: What We Talk, They Talk About.

Today – Tim Norman’s thoughts on 5 Things We Want Every Student to Experience.

For those of you who just want to get the highlights, I’ll list Tim’s 5 Experiences in brief at the top and then you can read the description of each one further below:

In an earlier post, I talked about the need for focus in personal discipleship. I operate under that premise that I have limited time with a person to help them forward in their relationship with God. For the vast majority of students I will sit down in a one-on-one setting fewer than 10 times. Some, I will only get together with a few times. What will I talk about during those times?

I’ll share with you five things that our ministry team wanted every first-year student to experience during their involvement with us. This was our attempt to answer the question, if a freshman has been involved with us what can I assume that have experienced? These are experiences and exposure to content. They are not necessarily the values and convictions we wanted people to hold. That would be a slightly different list.

  1. Share the gospel with the person using the Knowing God Personally booklet.
  2. Share with the person about the role of the Holy Spirit in their life.
  3. Talk with them about having a personal time reading God’s Word.
  4. Talk with them about sexual purity and God’s desire for them.
  5. Give them an opportunity to see the gospel shared with another person.

So, many things we offer students could easily experience somewhere else. But, friends, modeling conversations that share the gospel is one of our distinct contributions.

[Note: This was the key insight for me as CCC staff- There’s a lot of places students can get this stuff but we are one of the only places where they will get this: a chance (and training) to share their faith. They feel like they should share their faith (but no one told me how) – so they’re loaded up with guilt. We say, not just “do it” but “let’s do it together”.]

Those are five things I wanted our students to experience. Perhaps, I’m assuming others. I know that I wanted people to go to church or get connected with the movement. But, honestly, I so rarely saw people that were not getting that invitation that I didn’t feel it necessary to beat that drum. I’d love to hear from you.

What key experiences do you aim to give those who come in to your movement?


Here’s a fuller description of each of the 5 from Tim:

1) Share the gospel with the person using the Knowing God Personally booklet.

We want people to experience the joy and freedom of knowing God through his gracious provision for us. Some students come to our movements as believers in Christ. Some are non-believers. Some are make-believers. I found that I didn’t want to assume that just because someone had come to a Christian event that they were a believer.

Last year, I talked to a freshman defensive lineman who came out to the first few FCA meetings of the year. When I asked if Anthony would like to get together to talk about how to grow in a relationship with God, he eagerly said yes. When I sat down with him, I started walking through the Knowing God Personally booklet assuming that he already believed it. Why else would a NCAA Division I athlete show up to a Christian meeting the first few weeks of the school year? To my surprise, Anthony said, “I’ve never heard this. I just thought that I should give this religion stuff a look.” A few weeks later, Anthony trusted Christ. Don’t assume that because people come to a Christian meeting they know what it means to have a relationship with God. They may be just like Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and be seeking to see Jesus.

Also, I want people to know that what we are excited about as a movement is Jesus and what he does in our lives through the gospel. Too easily we can preach the gospel of Cru or the gospel of our church and not the gospel of Jesus. What I mean is that we meet a student and we tell them how great Cru is, how great the worship is at our church, how great our small groups are, etc. But, I want people to know, we’re pretty excited about Jesus; he’s a big deal to us. Such a big deal that we talk to others about him.

But, what about someone that you are confident is already a believer? I still say share the gospel with them. I grew up in a church that fervently talked about the importance of sharing the gospel with others. They exhorted me to share Christ with someone every week or 60 times in 60 days. I always signed the dotted line saying that I would do it. But, I never saw anyone else do it. To someone whom you know to already be a believer, say “I know you may already know this, but I’d love to share it with you with the goal that God would use you to influence others.” Also, it helps clarify what we are about to others.

2) Share with the person about the role of the Holy Spirit in their life.

I’ve done this a number of ways, including the Satisfied? booklet, a couple of basic Bible studies that are part of the Life Concept Series, or just walking through passages like Galatians 5 or 1 Corinthians 2. Ultimately, I want people to grasp that the truth expressed in the following statement from the Satisfied? booklet:

“The essence of the Christian life is what God does in and through us, not what we do for God. Christ’s life is reproduced in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to be directed and empowered by Him.”

3) Talk with them about having a personal time reading God’s Word.

I’ve written about this on my blog, The Exchange.

4) Talk with them about sexual purity and God’s desire for them.

I will write more about how I go about this in a future post.  The issue of sexual purity is as pressing today as it was in the first-century Greco-Roman world in which the epistles in the New Testament were written.

Many people have never heard what God desires for them in the area of purity or their understanding of how to go about it is littered with misconceptions. I came to a place where I assumed that the people I knew were struggling with this area of life until I knew otherwise.

5) Give them an opportunity to see the gospel shared with another person.

I want people to experience the joy of being used by God in his plan of bringing the world to himself. I want to help people get over the misconceptions and fears they have of sharing their faith with others.

Several years ago, I was meeting with a freshman named Jared. After we had sat down a handful of times, we began talking about God’s desire to use Jared to reach others with the gospel. I could see that Jared wanted to share his faith. One afternoon Jared and I shot some pool in his lobby and walked up to his room.  When we got up to his room, his roommate was unpacking his bag from the day. I knew from Jared that his roommate most likely wasn’t yet a believer. I took the opportunity to ask his roommate a few questions and share the gospel with him. Jared jumped in the conversation a few times. That may have been the first time he was able to share his faith, but it wasn’t the last.

I would have given anything as a high school student or a young college student for someone to model for me what it looked like to share the gospel. I wanted others to know Christ, and I had a desire to be used by God. But I wasn’t certain what to do in a conversation. My conversations ranged from heated arguments to monotonous soliloquies.

photo courtesy of kylesteed


Some quotes from the most recent issue of Time that I bought tonight.

The combination of youth and technology is driving a wave of change. . . The central, underlying feature of the Middle East’s crisis is a massive youth bulge. About 60% of the region’s population is under 30.  A generation once dismissed as politically supine has toppled two dictators and shaken up regimes across the Middle East.

In virtually every Arab country, more than half the population is less than 30 years old. . .

All of the revolts are led by young men and women, many of whom are novices at political activism. All use modern tools, like social networking sites on the internet and texting over mobile phones, to organize and amplify their protests. . . Technology has played a powerful role in informing, educating and connecting people in the region. Such advances empower individuals and disempower the state. In the old days, information technology favored those in power, because it was one to many. Today’s technologies are all many to many, networks in which everyone is connected but no one is in control.

These young people have done more in a few weeks than their parents did in 30 years . . .

They are the internet generation. . . or the Facebook Generation . . . or just call them the Miracle Generation. . .

The youth of the Arab world are not done yet.”


Love this caption: Class of 2011

The article underscores the need to understand and utilize technology as it goes hand in hand with rapid change/revolution.

It’s an exciting time to be working with this generation of college students.

Part 1 of a 2 part guest post by Tim Norman. Read the excellent follow up post here

Last fall Tim Norman (our new regional director) came to visit our team and he shared some insightful thoughts on meeting with students (and being VERY intentional about what we do and do NOT talk about). I’ve asked him to share those thoughts over a couple posts (in the first-ever Guest Post for this blog!).

Tim just started blogging and I encourage you to subscribe to his feed. Tim’s a critical thinker – you will benefit from his wisdom and insight.
The Apostle Paul motivates many of us who attempt to influence others to follow Jesus. Some things he had to say are pretty challenging. He said, “To live is Christ; to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). To be honest, many days it would be a stretch for me to say that for me to live is Christ. I have wondered if some things that Paul says are somewhat off limits for me to say.

One of the other things Paul said that I thought was out of bounds for me is “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).
One night, after a discussion at Applebee’s on which translation of the Bible was the best (did we know how to have a good time or what?), I went home and thought, “Everything that was being said around the table at Applebee’s was something that those guys heard from the guys that are discipling them.” I had heard the entire discussion before; the difference was it had come out of someone else’s mouth.

After going to my apartment, I had what I now refer to as the post-Applebee’s epiphany.

As someone who is trying to influence others for Christ and take up the task of making disciples, people will imitate me.

I accepted that I cannot alter the fact that people will imitate me. As a leader, I will influence others. Those that I begin to disciple, they will imitate me.

I made a choice to be intentional with what I will talk about others with. There are certain things that I want to pass along to them. Initially, there are few convictions and motivations that I hope to pass along. I’ll post an entry later this week on a few of the key things that I seek to pass along to students that I disciple.

I also embrace that I have limited time with someone. For the vast majority of students I will have only sat down in a one-on-one setting fewer than 10 times. Some, I will only get together with a few times.
What will I talk about during those times? What do I want them to imitate?

I do not care about which translation of the Bible the guys I disciple use. For the most part, I do not even talk about it.  Some of my theological positions or proclivities don’t fall into those few times.

What I did talk about initially was the gospel and the greatness of Jesus. I’ll share more about that later. Even accepting that I’ll likely need to talk about it more than once makes me keep my list short. After all, in most cases we are hoping for total worldview overhaul. And that may take a pass or two at a topic.

So, even if I had 40 times with a student over 2 years, I would still have to bring focus. I asked myself, what experience and training can I give them that they likely won’t receive somewhere else?

I encourage you as a leader to take stock of what you want others to imitate from their encounters with you. As a leader, you will influence their lives. That’s what leaders do. What will characterize that influence? Do they come away knowing that you are someone who can chat it up about the ESPN highlights? Do they know you have theological superheroes, past or present, that make your heart quiver? Do they begin to see that you are captivated by the magnitude of Jesus and his call on your life?


What are the top 5 things that you want to make sure you pass along?

photo courtesy of colindunn

Although much thought should be given to what and how much we consume online (input), I think it’s worth taking a few moments to think through how to maximize your online output.

If we’re going to take the time to communicate online (and I DO think it’s worth the time), we need to think through how to do so effectively.

Below is a compilation of recent posts from across the web on how to communicate better via Blogs, Twitter and Email.

Here’s to maximizing our use of online communication for the sake of the gospel!

How to become a better Blogger:

State your premise in your lead paragraph

Make the posts short.  (less than 500 words)

Use short paragraphs. I try to stick to 3–4 sentences. If it’s more than this, the content looks too dense. Readers will give up and move on. (Notice how newspapers usually follow this rule.)

Get your own unique URL

How to find legal, quality graphics

Get on a regular writing/posting schedule.

Work on your titles. A great title drives visits, but also informs us as to what we’re going to learn.

End your posts with a question

Make it easy to comment [which is why I stopped using Captcha as a spam blocker. . . which leads to the next helpful post that walks you through . . . ]

How to become a better Tweeter

I try to share ideas, articles and thought provoking content.

I must make every effort to have all my tweets add value to my followers’ lives.

I will try to minimize trivial things like, “I’m at the airport”, “I’m at McDonalds”, “I love pasta”

Shoot for a 20-1 ratio. I want to post 20 or so helpful resources or bits of information for every post in which I ask for help solving a problem, supporting a cause, or touting one of my company’s products, etc.

How to communicate better through Email

Technology creates a vacuum that we humans fill with negative emotions by default.

In other words, if an email’s content is neutral, we assume the tone is negative.

In an effort to be productive and succinct, our communication may be perceived as clipped, sarcastic, or rude.

One (surprising) solution: Use emoticons more often 🙂

Communicate “action steps” first, not last.

A good rule of thumb is to strive to keep emails to one line or less.

Never “reply all” (unless you absolutely must).

What other tips/links do you have on how we can communicate better online?

photo courtesy of nathan makan

Weekend Links

February 19, 2011 — Leave a comment

I thought this was really insightful:
Why Facebook (and your church) might be making you sad

“’By showcasing the most witty, joyful, bullet-pointed versions of people’s lives, and inviting constant comparisons in which we tend to see ourselves as the losers, Facebook appears to exploit an Achilles’ heel of human nature,’ Libby Copeland writes.  Nobody is as happy as he seems on Facebook.”

An absolutely unbelievable soccer goal from Wayne Rooney:


This reminds me of college days when we’d eagerly anticipate the release of each Warren Miller ski-themed movie. Except this is cooler (for full effect, watch it in hi-def full screen here):

Very well done and interesting commentary on music/film culture. Everything is a Remix Parts 1&2(via Collide)



I started this blog because, as Russ Martin said in Tithing your Time Online: “By spending five minutes to upload the presentation from your last small group leader training you could save someone hours”.

It’s one of the primary reasons I read so many blogs – to quickly glean from others and use their thoughts for Cru talks, Bible studies, and staff coaching. I feel that it multiplies my time (requiring a lot less prep/admin time so I can spend more time with staff and students).

So hopefully this will help you save some time. Here’s a few things I’m using in my Bible study the coming weeks:

“Repentance is THE way we make progress in the Christian life. Indeed, pervasive, all-of-life-repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus.”

  • I’m also using this question from Tim Norman in Bible Study today: “Why do you think it’s important to read the Bible?” followed by his Devil’s Advocate questions and study of 2 Timothy 3:16–17 he lays out in his post (he just started blogging – you should definitely subscribe! And not just cause he’s my boss).
  • For the next five weeks in our Bible study, we will be reading through a chapter a week from Fight Clubs. I’ll have them read through the chapter during the week and then discuss and apply during Bible study. The “Bible” part of our Bible Study discussion will come from digging deeper into the various passages in each chapter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this e-book is free anymore. You can preview the intro and 1st chapter here. Or buy it here.

What we fight for: “All else that is good and beautiful flows from him, but our thoughts don’t naturally drift to Christ. This is precisely why we need to fight.”

Why accountability groups fail in this fight: “We need to remove accountability [groups] from the center and replace it with the Gospel. We need to orbit around Jesus, not rules or confession. Instead of groups gathered around accountability, we must gather around Jesus. Only then will we find something truly worth fighting for.”

What are you using right now for BIble Study and Discipleship?

David Mays’ Book Notes on hundreds of books are outstanding and a GREAT way to learn, quickly.

If you’re like me, you have a list of 100 books you want to read and concepts you want to figure out.

David pulls out quotes and main points from each book. For me it’s been a great place to easily copy and paste quotes from some of my favorite books.

Those in ministry can subscribe to his weekly notes for free (you get an email when he adds a new book).

Some notes from great books to get you started (because the list is pretty overwhelming):

JI Packer – Knowing God

David Platt – Radical

Dan Roam – The Back of the Napkin

Seth Godin – Tribes

Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves to Death

Andy Stanley – The Next Generation Leader

Alan Hirsch – The Forgotten Ways

Shane Hipps – Flickering Pixels

Jim Collins – Built to Last

Chip and Dan Heath – Made to Stick

Tim Keller – The Reason for God

Tim Elmore – Habitudes

Andy Stanley – Making Vision Stick

Andy Stanley – Communicating for a Change

Thomas L Friedman – The World is Flat

Get ESV Bibles for $1 (if you order 240). Great to have to resource students to give to their friends (CCC staff- this is half the price of ordering through the FSK site). HT: Justin Taylor.

Random Tech Tip that I’m really excited about:

This will literally save me years of my life.

Don’t you love how you can zoom in on pretty much any window with the keyboard shortcut ‘command +’ or zoom out by pressing ‘command –’  (photoshop, safari, preview, etc)?

Don’t you hate how you have to manually click on the ‘zoom’ dropdown box to get a dumb Microsoft Word page to zoom in or out?

Here’s how to fix that:

In Word, Go to Tools –> Customize Keyboard

Select the category ‘View’ on the left

In the ‘commands’ list, select ViewZoomIn

Place your cursor in the textbox next to ‘Press new keyboard shortcut’.

Press a combination of keys – I just did the standard command +

Make sure in the ‘Current keys’ box that you are not overwriting something important (you’re not – unless you use the superscript shortcut a whole bunch – or alternate hyphen shortcut for zoom out)

If you’re happy with the shortcut, click on ‘Assign’

Repeat the same operation for ViewZoomOut.

(thanks to Google search and this link for delivering me from this frustration with Word)

Watched the Grammy’s last night. Such a strange mishmash of performances. What demographic are they exactly trying to appeal to with Justin Bieber followed by Bob Dylan followed by Drake/Rihanna followed by Barbara Streisand?

For some reason it is nowhere near as compelling as the Oscars (even though I like music more than movies).

Whereas the Oscar winners are usually widely acclaimed actors/movies, Grammy winners/nominees seem completely arbitrary (nominees in best Rock album: Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Jeff Beck, Tom Petty, and Muse.  Hmm- which is the only one from this decade?).

I guess this stems from that fact that the music industry is far more diverse (with over 30,000 albums released every year) than film (with less than 1000 feature films released to theaters per year) and it’s difficult to have consensus.

Maybe the diversity that makes it difficult to Award is what makes music so appealing. There’s a genre for everyone. My genre of choice= indie rock/pop.

Anyway, you can get any of the Albums of the Year nominees for $5 on Amazon (though Arcade Fire is the only one worth getting! Here’s a good write-up (with video) of Arcade Fire’s win).

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Yeasayer is giving away a free EP – a GREAT love song (and two remixes) that was #7 on my list of top songs of 2010

(Warning. Don’t watch the video. it will ruin the song for you. we’ve resolved to never watch a Yeasayer video again. Great musicians. HORRIBLE video makers.)

Here’s a pretty decent free 6 song Sampler of Amazon’s Top Artists on the Rise.

If you love music and have never seen La Blogoteque you should check it out.

For the last 5 years, an independent filmmaker in Paris has been filming a who’s who of indie rock bands as they perform acoustically in unique locations. Each video is beautifully shot with great audio. My all-time-favorite is Phoenix performing Lisztomania on a double decker bus by the Eifel Tower (and the video for 1901 is cool too).


Other good performances:

Bon Iver

Local Natives performing Who Knows Who Cares

Yeasayer performing 2080/Tightrope

And the original video that started the series: The Spinto Band performing Oh Mandy (a tribute to my Valentine – my wife Mandy!)

Midweek Ministry Thoughts

February 9, 2011 — 1 Comment

Student Staff – I posted this a while back on CruPress Green but never linked to it on my blog. So check it out: Student Staff – THE best idea I’ve ever seen in empowering students to lead.

How many times have you heard this from a student: I want to go deep in Bible study?

I almost ditched Cru my freshman year because I thought Cru and its Bible Studies weren’t deep enough. Deep for me was studying prophecies and Revelation. Was I a self-righteous punk? For sure. Am I typical of many Christian students? Probably.

Great post from Trevin Wax on what “going deep” should look like:

  • It’s not learning new facts
  • It’s not coming up with a new list of to-dos

Going deep is:

  • Immersing ourselves in the truth that Jesus Christ bled and died to save helpless sinners like you and me.
  • Seeing the depth of our sin and the depth of God’s grace.

Not only should we implement this in our Bible Studies, I think it would serve us to communicate this vision to our students (lest, like freshman Tim, they think we’re not “deep enough”)

Great thoughts for those of you who lead others (especially in staff meetings):

“Next time you walk into a meeting, consider, How do I want people to feel when the meeting is over? Begin with the end in mind.”

Definitely a good reminder. Mental note to self: do not end staff meetings with to-do’s. End with vision. Even better, end with “THIS is the most important thing you should be doing this week”. Then end with vision on why we must do THIS. You can read the full article from Michael Hyatt – 5 Ways to Energize your Team

Google Translate is a cool free app that was released yesterday that will surely greatly benefit missionaries (and of course, tourists) around the world. You can write or speak a sentence into your iPhone/iPad and it will translate it instantly into one of 50 languages (giving the written and spoken translation). More info here.

In the book The Millennials, authors Thom and Jess Rainer share the greatest influencers on young people. Parents and friends occupied the top two spots. Number three was a little surprising- Music.

Music outranked religious beliefs, TV, and the Internet in terms of influence on their lives.

This is the iPod generation. This generation of college students can scarcely remember life before the iPod (which came out a decade ago). Music is constantly pumping through their earbuds and inevitably has shaped their lives.

So get some good (free or cheap) music below and consider it cultural exegesis:

  • Get a $2 free MP3 credit from @amazonmp3 – Enter code VDAYMP3S (expires 2/14)
  • 16 free songs (Spoon, Sleigh Bells, Deerhunter) from Spin Magazine’s Best of 2010. Get it, if only, for the amazing Yeasayer song- Ambling Alp . [Sorry – this one is expired]
  • A (just okay) free 14 Song Valentines Mix from @amazonmp3 (but worth the click, if only, for the Band of Horses song)
  • Fleet Foxes(who make beautiful, harmonic music) is giving away a free song from their new album
  • And a couple noteworthy albums on Amazon’s $5 albums for February:

The Suburbs by Arcade Fire — One of THE best 3 albums of 2010!! Get it!

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by Sarah McLachlan — a guilty pleasure from college days! One of the Best. Albums. Evah.