Archives For July 2012

miami ohio

This is part of a series: Learning from Large Cru Movements- a look at 8 of the largest Cru movements in the U.S.  Read the Series intro here.

Overview of the Cru Movement at Miami of Ohio:

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 16,000 students enrolled at Miami, Ohio
    • 60% from a Catholic Background
    • 12% from non-religious Catholic
    • About 3700 freshmen
    • The type of person that comes to Miami is off the charts leader – If you meet 10 people, 8-9 are leaders (valedictorians, handsome, socially adept). Not at all common in MAC conference (most campuses 2 or 3 out of 10 would be leaders)
  • 650-750 in Community Groups
  • 25-30 guys leading CG’s
  • More than 120 girls leading CG’s [no idea why the disparity!]
  • 650-750 at weekly meeting
  • 8-10% INB’s in our movement (Involved New Believers – students who have come to Christ thru the movement and are still involved)
  • 12-15 STINT/Intern/Staff sent out this year
  • Typically send 60-80 on Summer Projects (primarily to Ocean City and Virginia Beach)
  • 100+ at Winter Conference
  • 400+ at Fall Retreat (do it on their own)
  • 100+ on Spring break trips (Big Break, Rome and Fiji)
  • Lead ministries on 3 other campuses as well as Student Venture, AIA, Greek, Bridges movements
  • What is the next largest campus ministry at your school? – Navs have around 150


Movement History

  • 1991 – 400-450 in Small Groups (we use that number to gauge movement size instead of weekly meeting)
  • Mid 90’s – moved to bigger auditorium and that’s when it started to explode
  • Weekly Meeting – 5-600 (500 in CG’s)
  • Over last 11—12 years – 600-750 in CG’s (and about the same at Cru)


  • For those of you outside of Cru, here’s a little background on the significance of the Cru movement at Miami of Ohio:
    • Within the Cru family is the only place in the world where if you say, “I went to school at Miami” everyone immediately assumes you’re talking about the Miami in Ohio.
    • Cru at Miami is legendary in Cru circles. It’s been huge, one of the largest movements in the nation, for nearly three decades running.
    • Roger Hershey (probably the most highly esteemed Discipler and Campus Director in Cru history) directed the ministry for years.
    • They have consistently sent our more full time Cru staff than any other campus.
    • Cru mythology is that Miami is the only school to achieve the Holy Grail of college ministry – sharing the gospel with EVERY student on campus in a year.
    • But here’s the interesting thing: Cru at Miami is far bigger now than it ever was under Roger Hershey.


Biggest Contributors to Growth

  • Miami was started in 1885 as a Presbyterian college to equip students to go into ministry – they feel like somebody must have been praying back in the 1800’s for God to move at Miami greatly
  • God decided to move
  • There’s some things we can do, but not much. Ultimately God is the one who does it
    • It helps you relax in your leadership
    • In most cases, we are just seeing the Lord working despite us.
  • Long term consistency in leadership
    • Directors:
      • Mark Brown – 22 years on staff (20 years at Miami – 14 years as Director)
        • Only the 3rd director in 32 years at Miami
        • [Mark is who I interviewed and so what follows are his thoughts on the movement]
      • Jane Armstrong – 32 years at Miami!
  • Having a really good partnership
    • Have a partnership director (not the Director)
    • What helps is Jane and I both embrace the partnership
      • Make sure our staff go to our partnerships
      • Jane goes on SP’s there
      • I go every other year on Spring Break to Fiji
    • It gives students a big picture
    • They get to share their faith
    • 24 students in Fiji saw 100 students trust Christ the first week – how can that not change you?
  • We have such quality students involved that they will attract quality students
  • What keeps the movement from growing indefinitely (why has the movement plateaud over the past decade)?
    • The larger you get, it’s easier to have people involved who are just playing the game (who are not really Christians)
    • The reason hasn’t exploded is because there’s too many students not living for Christ


Key Points

  • We want to reach the unbelievers, but we have a ton of students who come as self-centered Christians and we trust God to scrub them down and start following God passionately
    • It’s a longer process to take a carnal nominal youth group kid to Christ centered than it is to take a lost student to Christ-centered laborer
  • One thing we’re trying to do is empower students to lead and to have less and less staff leadership
    • The best things that happen on campus are not from me, they come from students
    • If I stand up front and say “here’s a great tool” they won’t use it
    • But I get some key leaders to use it, students will adopt it
    • We don’t assign guys to lead, we ask them – where do you want to lead?
      • Instead of having an OK study in every dorm, we want guys to lead where they’re motivated and passionate about
    • I’m willing to run with anything a student is passionate about as long as it is on course with our mission
      • One year we met in three separate weekly meetings spread across campus because the students wanted to do it (sizes = 300, 150, 100)
      • The next year we did 2 locations on 2 parts of campus
  • The pressure is always to be bigger and better
  • But my desire is to train laborers for a lifetime (who are doing well in 20 years)
    • To be successful fathers, husband, and multipliers
    • If they’re going to be successful men in the church, business, they need to have community
  • What is the culture that I want to be true of my staff team and as a movement?
    • I lead with struggle and weakness, and messing up
    • The more brokenness the people I lead see, the more they will follow you and share their own brokenness
    • Men’s time helps set that– I’m modeling for all the staff guys
    • We are all sharing our weakness, our messiness
    • And they learn to do that with the people they lead
    • In their brokenness God is glorified, and people follow heart/brokenness
    • My most responsive messages at Cru are where I share my brokenness, my weakness – “I blew it”
    • I want to model with our staff men that when they are discipling guys they are leading from weakness
    • There’s already a distance between you as a Director and them
      • They think you’re perfect
  • We bleed follow up – we take everyone we can through 5 basic Life Concepts (follow up for new Christians)

What do staff focus on?

  • Emotionally unhealthy staff like to do everything themselves because they feel better about themselves – they feel productive
  • When your [a student’s] life falls apart, I don’t want to be your first phone call
    • I want you to call your best friend
    • In 20 years from now, and your life is falling apart, I can guarantee you won’t have a middle age man calling you and asking to meet with you for discipleship
    • I don’t want the movement or staff team to need me
    • I want them to need God, to need each other
  • One of the things I want staff to own is their own Development
    • Every year I have them read Self Leadership article by Bill Hybels
    • I have them come up with a Sharpening the Saw
      • We’re so busy, we don’t sharpen the saw.
      • But if we sharpen the saw we are much more effective with less time
      • One of most impt thing for them to do is sharpen the saw physically (and for us as MTL)
        • What you do in your 30’s, 40’s and 50’s affects your life in your 60’s 70’s and 80’s
        • Stress reliever – it affects everything – we are integrated people – what I do physically affects my spiritual and emotional life
    • We are big on making sure our interns do the New Staff Development curriculum
    • Make staff do Day With Lord every month
      • Have staff email me what they did – as accountability
    • I really want our staff to know that I value them more than just a job
      • I care for them more than ministry
      • This gig we do is really doable
      • I want our interns to know they could do this for the rest of their life
        • We don’t need to recruit – hopefully our life is so attractive because we are living healthy, balanced life
        • Do staff say “Man, Mark runs ragged. He’s exhausted”?
        • I look at staff who are running crazy and I think; “I don’t think a student would want to be like you


Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • Most of training happens thru discipleship
    • Things like:
      • Can you bring someone to a point of decision?
  • We have 25 students on a Shepherd Team– Juniors and Seniors
    • Meet twice a month – Wednesdays from 9-11
    • At Shepherd Team – Jane and Mark share vision and care for the students
    • Their primary role is to shepherd the movement
    • Instead of running everything, we want them to have personal ministry of discipleship and evangelism – to model our distinctives
    • Used to just do Servant Team where they ran committees and ran everything but they never had time to do ministry
    • Some are in charge of Cru meeting but not most
  • Servant Teams are primarily sophomores and juniors – they meet once a month all together (during second hour of shepherd team) – on the other week they meet on their own as students
    • They run specific areas
      • Social justice
      • Socials
      • Prayer
      • Evangelism
      • Cru
      • Connection team
  • Leadership gathering once a month with all of servant and shepherd team(and staff team) to make sure we are all headed the same direction
    • It’s our primary place to cast vision and make sure we are all headed the same direction and focused on our critical path steps
  • At beginning of the semester do a thing called Legacy – first three weeks of semester for anyone that wants to be a leader (2 hours)
  • Shepherd team did some training on Saturday AM’s once a semester to teach them to share their faith (this was totally student led)
  • In the Spring we do something called Autumn Advance – planning the first 6 weeks – 2 or 3 nights of planning – happens in April
    • Student led (staff coaching)
    • So students are leading all the events, buying the stuff, and staff are just coaching to make sure they follow thru on what they said they would do
  • In the spring we have a big leadership pancake breakfast
    • Students share vision
    • Men fill out sheet about where they’re going to live, and with whom


Bible Studies

  • Lead in pairs (Leader and Apprentice)
  • We used to think: Success is launching a ministry in a dorm
  • Now we say, success is having a personal ministry
  • Jake is leading in a dorm and he’s disicpling 2 guys and those three guys are going after the dorm together
  • But we want them to not only focus on locations, but relationships – Say Jake is working out at the Rec – we want him to think “I want to invite that guy”
  • We don’t assign guys to lead, we ask them – where do you want to lead?
  • Instead of having an OK study in every dorm, we want guys to lead where they’re motivated and passionate about
  • We want our students, men in particular, to lead relationally as opposed to us placing people
    • As far as who disciples whom and where they lead studies
    • Empower student men to decide who they are going to disciple (driven by relationships as opposed to structure)
  • 2 tiers of studies
    • Top level is a Coaching group (action group)– staff disciple 5 guys in a group
    • These are guys who are reaching out to a freshmen target area
    • I have guys in my coaching group who are discipled by other guys


Weekly Meeting

  • Do 1st meeting outside (Flat bed tractor trailer for stage/sound system)
  • Once a semester we have a week where we have our weekly meeting in 15 different locations (houses)
    • Build up to it for a few weeks and announce it, cast vision
    • Each meeting has an MC, worship, someone giving a talk, icebreaker, someone in charge of atmosphere and transportation
    • We even have freshmen MC (great opp for them to lead)
  • Mark speaks at first 2 meetings, and the last meeting and one in the middle (4 a semester)
  • Staff speak the rest of the time


Reaching Freshmen

  • We do a FSK-type thing (bag, coupons, More Than a Carpenter) on Sunday before classes start (at a big ministry fair)
  • On Tuesday & Wed we do surveys for freshmen – 1500-2000 surveys
    • Do surveys, come back and sort them
    • Student leaders who are in charge of the quads call every survey positives and invite them to the big Tuesday night study the second week of class
    • The first week we do a pizza party
    • Do big co-ed Dorm Study for 3 weeks
    • From there we transition to normal same-sex studies
  • Thursday Weekly meeting – 8:30
    • At end of weekly meeting, we dismiss all the freshmen first to go on the lawn and find the big signs with their dorm names on it
    • And then we tell the upperclassmen – OK go out and find the area you want to minister in and go take the freshmen to ice cream or something
    • First meeting – 700 students come
  • Friday – big cookout
    • Free for new students
    • Upperclassmen have to pay
    • Food, games
  • Try to have house parties the first 6 weekends (big parties at upperclassmen’s houses)
  • Second weekend – women’s progressive dinner, and men’s paintball

We work hard to give freshmen opps to lead:

  • At fall retreat we gather them together and ask them what they want to trust the lord for as a freshmen class (each class has a class time)
    • A tweak is we might have upperclassmen Jr/Sr come to the younger classes and lead it, cast vision
  • If you want to give leadership to the freshmen class, come up to the front, we grab them and get their names and meet with them


Staff Meeting

  • If your movement is led by students, there’s not much you need to cover in a staff meeting
  • Primary purpose of staff meeting is to care for your staff
    • No one has ever felt over-encouraged!
  • Occasionally give specific direction like: “Let’s make sure in the next week or two that we do the HS life with people we disciple” (2 or 3 things a semester so they can still plan out)
    • Let’s not assume that they understand it
  • Every other week we share relationally (about our lives) from 9-10am
  • After a big event – I ask my staff at staff meeting:
    • Do any of you feel burned out, you tired?
    • No?
    • Because the students did it all!
    • Great job!


What do you (as a Director) spend time on?

  • Meet with every senior staff guy every week
    • Two senior staff guys meet with all of the other new staff and interns
  • Disciple 3-4 students
  • Lead a coaching group once a week (eat together with his family, do study afterwards)
  • Save Monday for planning day
  • Tuesday – 9-11 prayer; 11-1 Men’s Time (highlight of week! We eat lunch together) – authentic community, read a book (Samson and the Pirate Monks- argues for an authentic community among men);
  • The role of the Director is in between student leaders and staff leaders
    • Lead the student leadership team and Lead the staff team
    • Constantly trying to balance the tension
    • If I’m going to err, I’m going to err on letting students lead
  • I’m constantly thinking: How can I push more and more leadership away from myself?
    • I want to empower the right people to lead
    • I’m not the best systematic guy, I have guys on my team who are great at that
    • I am pulling in one of the senior staff guys to focus on strategy
    • I’m not a great discipler of men
    • I’m a great sharer of my life, get in people’s face, studying our staff team and looking for what they’re passions are and pushing them toward it
    • I stay away from things I’m not good at
    • And if I’m emotionally healthy, I can let them get the credit
    • The goal of the Director is not to make your life fit the Director phantom
      • It’s to make the Director job fit you
  • I sleep well at night – I don’t lose sleep at night [over the movement]
  • The only reason I want it to grow is I want to reach every student – whereas 10 years ago I want to grow it to show I could do it


What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at Miami?


photo courtesy of ColorblindRain


This is part of a series: Learning from Large Cru Movements- a look at 8 of the largest Cru movements in the U.S.  Read the Series intro here.

Overview of the Cru Movement at the University of Florida:

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 50,000 students enrolled at Florida
  • 1200 at first Cru meeting in the fall (700-800 at a typical weekly meeting)
  • 650 involved in 49 Bible Studies led by 200 leaders
  • Typically raise up about 10-15 STINT/Intern/Staff (though 2011 was lower – 5)
  • Want to see 30 people STINT/Intern/Staff this year (10 UF/10 Paris/10 around the world)
  • 175 at Winter Conference
  • 300 at Fall Retreat
  • Staff team – 12 people usually (6 staff, 6 interns)
  • 4284 people like their page on Facebook
  • What is the next largest campus ministry at your school?
    • RUF – 200 involved or so
    • Campus ministry leaders get together and pray every week


Movement History

  • 250 – at weekly meeting in 2002
  • In the last three years we’ve really grown a lot to where we have over 1000 involved


Biggest Contributors to Growth

  • God showed up – especially at a place like Florida which is pretty dead spiritually
  • Community Groups – we changed our structure to a cell group model
    • CG’s have fueled the Weekly Meeting growth
  • Students really owning discipleship
    • One student leader (a senior) really caught a vision for discipleship and it created a culture of discipleship
    • When people come into the movement, they hear about it and want to be discipled
  • Big change – how staff team delegated our responsibilities


Key Points

  • Our students have a phenomenally high level of ownership
    • Put on weekly meeting
    • Put on socials
    • Work with student government
  • Just made a decision a long time ago to turn everything over to students and let them lead (sink or swim)
  • I’m sure we could have a weekly meeting if I put 30 hours into it every week, but that’s not the best way to spend my time
  • Frees staff to focus on ministry:
    • Discipleship
    • Evangelism
  • Do you have a website? – just nominally that routes back to Facebook
    • We do everything thru Facebook
    • Plug Fan Page at weekly meeting (mention it every week “if you’re looking for more info or want to hear about stuff we talked about, check out our Facebook page – or like us)
    • There’s a small group finder on the Facebook page
    • All of announcements and Servant Team are linked in thru Facebook page
    • We have a few students who take it very seriously and will have it as their role
  • What obstacles did you face in the growing process?
    • Solving the problem of too many groups for each staff person to oversee (especially for younger staff/interns – too much to have 5 or 6 groups)
      • This last year they took 6 students – 4 girls and 2 guys – and had them not be primary leaders of Cell groups, made them coach of their group and gave them 1 or 2 groups to coach
      • All those 6 were in a coaching session with MTL every other week – to touch base – how are your groups doing? What problems are you facing?
    • Weekly meeting
      • Rooms big enough to meet in (and paying for those)
      • Were in a room that held 500 people
      • Started booking bigger rooms
      • They hop around all over the place throughout the year
      • University auditorium and Univ. ballroom (cost anywhere from $400-$800/week)
      • Got more student government funding and have raised more
      • Have a couple meetings outdoors on a field


What does evangelism look like on your campus?

  • Primary strategy = thru the Community Groups
    • They have their sphere of influence
      • They do intentional outreaches – floor meal and invite people to it; guys invite guys to play ball or ultimate; cookout for their area of campus
      • Once a month we do an outreach to the area
    • Students have really embraced it’s OK to belong before you believe (a significant number of CG’s have non-Christians coming to it)
      • Tons of students become Christians thru CG’s and getting plugged in relationally
    • Students share pretty relationally (thru challenging thru discipleship)
  • Big outreaches? Sometimes – didn’t this year; not their bread and butter
  • Did 3 weeks of 24/7 prayer in Spring


What do staff focus on?

  • Staff primarily just do discipleship and evangelism
  • Staff don’t lead any Bible studies
  • They each have 5 community groups (and leaders) they focus on
    • Staff go to one of those CG’s every week
    • After going, meet with all the leaders of that group to give feedback (2 leaders as well as sophomore leaders – usually 2-5 guys) on their group
      • How’s the group going overall?
      • How could they pursue areas they are not doing as well on
      • Could be based on that week or focused big picture – how can they do outreach better
    • Bulk of time is meeting with Bible study leaders and guys from those groups (try to get appointments when they visit each study)
    • Disciple all the leaders of those CG’s (2-3 leaders of group)
      • Staff do 1 on 2 or 1 on 3 group discipleship
      • Meet with both leaders together
        • Share their faith once a month
          • Could be randoms (probably twice a semester)
          • Talk with one of their friends from class (in discipleship, asking who they’re reaching out to, they mention somebody, and you say, “let’s hang out sometime together”)
            • It’s on the student to set that up
        • Use the Compass a lot (for transferability) and CruPressGreen
    • Also have Staff team responsibilities – outreach team, Cru, prayer, etc
    • Staff team’s biggest win is getting people involved in Community Groups
      • So staff team needs to be more focused on that
      • So they raised the level of every on the staff team to be CG experts
      • Spent a lot of time discussing (3 years ago) what does a healthy group look like?
        • Biblical Content
        • Prayer
        • Outreach
        • Discipleship
        • Community
      • Those are the checkpoints – how are the CG’s doing in each of these?


Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • Mostly train through discipleship
  • Do some random training in Fall – right before Cru – call it “Dr. Cru”
    • How to connect to God thru the Bible, etc
    • TNT happens same time – 7-8pm. Cru is at 8:30
  • Once a month have a Sunday Night Leadership
    • Open to anyone in them movement (announced at weekly meeting)
    • Required for anyone leading with us
    • Probably around 150-200 students – 2 hours
    • A chance to pull the leaders together
    • Share time (at least every other time) on what God is doing
    • A lot of specific stuff on Community Groups
    • Vision for different things



  • Staff meet weekly with Servant Team and Officers – Fridays at 3pm – about 12 students
    • Servant Team= Outreach, Socials, Cru, Prayer, Communications, Finance
    • Officers (4 key student leaders) → Meet with them once a week


Weekly Meeting

  • Staff put very little effort into weekly meeting – the main staff guy puts in 1 hour a week into it
  • Put all their time into discipleship and CG’s
  • Students mostly lead it
    • A guy on servant team leads the team of 10-12 students
    • Set up and tear down/video stuff, sound guy
  • Staff team speaks 95% of the time (mostly 2 senior guys)
  • Band – rotates 2 worship leaders
    • Have a pool of 30 people they draw from – have a schedule of who’s playing when (practice on Wed. night and play on Thursday night)
  • How do they promote the weekly meeting?
    • Most people come thru word of mouth/Personal invitation


Bible Study Structure

  • Old system – start in a freshman study, and that will carry you through your time at UF
    • Tough for people to get connected after freshmen year
  • New philosophy= Cell group strategy
    • All ages and open at all times (freshmen thru senior in group together)
    • Based on Spheres of Influence rather than year in school
    • When groups reach 15 or so they multiply (how often does this happen? Some groups multiply every year)
  • The groups where discipleship is most owned and most healthy, those are the groups that multiply and grow
  • The CG leaders (JR/SR) disciple sophomore leaders in the group
  • These groups are the main avenue for reaching the campus – each has their own sphere of influence/TA (dorm, etc)
  • We do start the year with freshmen studies (Real Life Groups)
    • We meet for 6-8 weeks
    • Sophomore/new leaders (who have gone thru new leaders training) lead those studies
    • Those freshmen studies get reabsorbed into the CG where they come from (into older studies)
      • The whole group owns the Real Life (freshman) Group even though only 2 sophomores are leading it; everyone chips in
    • We focus on freshmen as groups
      • The freshmen really get invested in by the older students and get to know them really well when they get reabsorbed into the larger/older Community group
  • Student leaders are not in a Community group- they both lead and are in it (so there are no senior studies led by staff)
  • What’s the process for becoming a CG leader?
    • Spring – 6 weeks “TNT” = teaching and training for all new leaders (mostly freshmen or new leaders)
    • How do you cast the net wide? Invite people?
      • Ask specifically the group leaders who they’d recommend
      • Announce it at Cru meeting
      • Had over 100 at the meeting in the spring (130?)
      • Going thru TNT doesn’t mean you will be a leader, but you have to go thru TNT to be a leader
    • Have to sign leadership agreement to lead
    • All CG leaders are discipled by a staff person



  • Parents Weekend
    • Our normal meeting is on Thursday night
    • We move it to Friday night one weekend – early November for a home game
    • We ask our students to invite their parents to come to the weekly meeting on Friday night
    • We do a Giving Brunch next morning
    • 70-100 families give $50,000


What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at the University of Florida?


photo courtesy of randomduck



This is part of a series: Learning from Large Cru Movements- a look at 8 of the largest Cru movements in the U.S.  Read the Series intro here.

Overview of the Cru Movement at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo:

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 18,000 enrolled at Cal Poly SLO
  • Pretty conservative students (large Ag school), isolated, homogenous – largely white, upper middle class.
  • Because one movement can reach much of the campus the school has had a history of large movements – they had movements of 300 in the 70’s
  • 800-1100 at Cru meeting
  • 950 in Bible Studies
  • 175 Bible Study leaders
  • 2000 people Like their page on Facebook
  • 17 on their staff team (8-12 of those are interns) – including a Faculty Commons staff and a Bridges couple
  • Jamey Pappas has been the Director there for 14 years (24 years on staff)
  • 2 partnerships – El Salvador and East Asia
  • 600 go on Fall Retreat
  • Only 60-80 at Winter Conference
  • Budget – Goal is $80,000-$100,000
    • A few key donors give $25-$30k
    • Fellowship Dinner – $45-$50K


Movement History

  • The year we got here in 1998, there were 150 students involved (30 people 2 years before that)
  • We had 4 staff
  • From there on we pretty much doubled every year at our weekly meeting (150-300-600-1000) for a few years
    • Really felt growing pains from 300-600
  • Sending has particularly grown last couple years


Biggest Contributors to Growth

  • Our demographic – we have a really big target instead of multiples oikos
  • Our freshmen strategy is well done and we have about the best circumstance for it I’ve ever seen
    • All freshmen live in dorms
    • During welcome week, in the course of 4 hours, the entire freshmen class parades in front of us
    • We do a quick survey and give out FSK’s (and have a raffle)
      • 2500-3000 FSK’s given out every year (Spend $20,000 on them)
        • Bible, book, wayfarer glasses (say SLO crusade on them – 56 cents a piece), drawstring backpacks with logo on it
  • Prayer has been a huge part – We were really desperate for God to do things
  • We don’t shy back from talking about the mission and the vision to reach the world
    • We’re seeker sensitive in that we explain our language/meeting
    • But we’re clear that we are passionate about the lost and the world
    • This group isn’t just about hanging out and gathering, they really think they can change the world
      • Not – this is just a good place to hear the Bible taught and worship
    • That compelling world-changing vision is hugely impactful
  • Good weekly meeting (worship and teaching)
  • I learned to let students lead (out of necessity with a small staff team – there’s no way we could micromanage) – a lot of students had a chance to really lead and make decisions – “you really trust us, give us a lot of freedom”
    • Students have a lot better ideas than I do


Key Points

  • In Follow up- Share the gospel no matter what
    • “I see you’re interested in a study, we’re doing it on Tuesday nights, what’s your spiritual background?”
    • “What we’re all about in Cru is the gospel message. Can I share with you what the gospel is all about?”
    • Either they don’t know the Lord or they’re a full blown Christian and they want to know about Cru and here is the essence of what we are about
  • How do you, with a large team, keep student ownership high?
    • It’s a struggle to be honest
    • The interns particularly are the ones who are going to do that
    • Because as students they were used to doing everything, and now as a coach they’re not supposed to
    • Here’s the danger – because the movement is so large, there’s so much to manage, the desire to pioneer gets lost
    • Even if you had the schedule time, the emotional capacity is gone
    • I don’t want to just manage a big movement (nice, clean polished events)
    • I need to embrace the mess that was in the early years
    • In our movement there’s pressure to continue excellence, to perform at the level that they’ve seen as students
    • What I want to do is make it more about, “let your students do it, let them make mistakes”
    • If you don’t watch it, a bunch of your staff will spend a lot of time gearing up for events
    • What I want them to think about is how to develop community in our movement without taking up nights
  • Thing that needed the most addressing within the last 4-5 years was helping students understand spiritual multiplication, how to reproduce
    • Getting back to the essence of Cru DNA
    • Selection is very important
    • All of our Bible study leaders and Staff go through Masterplan of Evangelism
    • How do you address staff/students who balk at selection?
      • Soften it a little by, “I’m not saying you can’t spend time with these guys, but you need to spend your regular discipleship time with a few key multipliers”
      • We’re not ignoring those people, we’re just spending more time with the multipliers
      • By doing that we are going to be able to meet the needs of more people
  • What have they done to emphasize spiritual multiplication?
    • We talk about it a lot and model it
    • Start with staff team, let it trickle down
    • Reminding them of what we are doing in our discipleship= We want to produce spiritual multipliers
    • Make sure that I, the Director, am doing it
    • When our students are on the receiving end of it, they want to, in turn, go and do it with others

What do staff focus on?

  • I tell them:
    • “This movement can survive without a weekly meeting, social and the events”
    • “But the backbone of our movement is evangelism and discipleship and small groups”
    • “That’s your job”
  • Basically they disciple and coach a team (cru, outreach, prayer)
  • They got a little off and thought coaching their team is more important
    • It’s public, so they spend more time on that
    • They want to feel like they are contributing
    • It’s easier to buy groceries than to go share your faith
  • And maybe they don’t know what to do with discipleship
  • Discipleship=
    1. Doing ministry with your disciple (learn how to share our faith)
    2. Providing content to help that disciple move to the next place of growth
    3. Connecting/real time discipleship (what’s going on in your life right now).
    • You can mix 2 of those in one discipleship appt
    • Share your faith 2-3 times a quarter
    • Disciple in groups – 2 and 3’s because of our size
  • Staff have a target area
  • But because of the number of discipleship appts, coaching their team, they feel overwhelmed
    • But what they have on their schedule, timewise should not overwhelm them
    • My diagnosis – They spend too much time prepping for discipleship and bible study (spend 2 hours prepping one study) –
    • I tell them: “you can talk about prayer with all of your disciples, you don’t need customized discipleship for each student”
  • The fear – I’m on staff now and I need to perform well in this discipleship appt – I need to look like I know what I’m doing (I know everything about prayer). But your students don’t need to leave the appt thinking – “wow, my discipler must have a seminary degree to know that much about prayer. I could never know enough about prayer to teach someone else”. We want our appts to be transferrable
  • I found out staff are going off campus to do discipleship
    • Adds commute time, parking, travel
    • We need to have our discipleship appt on campus
    • Get to campus, be on campus (don’t run home during the day)
    • I heard some of our students saying “I guess I better start liking coffee because I’m going to start discipling guys” – we were creating this culture of discipleship= “deep conversations at coffee houses”

What do you (as Director) spend time on?

  • Hard to say no to leading a student study (but I don’t lead one now)
  • I don’t disciple many students – maybe 1-2 student leaders
  • I am the Partnerships coordinator (El Salvador and East Asia)
  • Lead staff meetings
    • Business meeting on Monday
    • Prayer and development on Friday
  • Lead core leadership meetings
  • Shepherd senior staff men (disciple them in groups)
  • Teach at weekly meeting
  • Instead of focusing in on 5 disciples, I’m trying to get time with my core leaders and my ministry leaders – be more available – “sit down and say: hey man, how’s it going”
    • I can sit down and enter into what’s going on in their life and speak some encouragement
    • Sometimes I speak some concerns but usually I focus on moving them forward

Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • Weekly training just for first year leaders – The Well
  • Older students leaders – gather them twice a quarter (once a month)
  • I like where we are at now after many changes
  • We have a group of 8 students who make up our Core Leadership team whom we meet with weekly for a Core Leadership meeting (they really get Win/Build/Send and who we are)
  • Our Servant Team
    • Ministry team leaders – each team has 2 leaders
      • Outreach
      • Weekly Meeting
      • Etc

Weekly Meeting → Jamey teaches 60% of the time

Bible Study Structure

  • Hybrid between Relational/open studies and Crusade Action groups
  • 175 Small Group leaders
  • Have 3 tracks of Bible Study leaders
    • Track 1 leaders – 85 freshmen study leaders
    • Track 2 – 60 leaders
    • Track 3 – 30 (leaders of leaders)
  • Do a good job of communicating on the front end: this is who we are, this is what we do
  • We’re going to have small groups focused on spiritual multiplication
    • if you’re not cool with that, you can lead elsewhere
  • All of our first year small group leaders have to go to a weekly training time
    • 1 hour, on campus
    • Do a lot of aligning (on multiplication), sharing
    • A lot focused on discipleship (esp. 2nd half of the year)
    • 80-90% of study leaders go to it (with some attrition); 50-60% follow thru
  • It’s rare that a sophomore will lead a Bible study
    • It’s been good for us to allow that student to have another year to be poured into and developed
    • When they lead their junior year, they really get it
    • They’ve shown that they are making Cru their place of ministry
    • B/c it’s kind of hard to be a Bible study leader in Cru, it become pretty desirable/sought after


What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at Cal Poly SLO?


Montana State

This is part of a series: Learning from Large Cru Movements- a look at 8 of the largest Cru movements in the U.S. Read the Series intro here.

Overview of the Cru Movement at Montana State

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 13,000 students enrolled at Montana State (3,500 in dorms)
  • Typically 6-10 staff (that includes 0-3 interns)
  • 335 students in Bible studies
  • 425 at the weekly meeting
  • 285 at Fall Retreat
  • Bob Schwahn is the Director. He’s been on staff 19 years. 15 years at MSU (13 of those as Director). Came to Christ at MSU.

Movement History

  • Since 1999, they’ve taken a movement from 50 to about 500 involved
  • Since 2006 they’ve gone from 15 students living out Win/Build/Send to 150 this past year
  • They’ve sent out staff to lead Cru ministries in Seattle and Portland
  • What contributed to their growth [with some great candor]:
    • Not sure!
    • Our meeting was really cool, fun students involved in our ministry (great personalities involved who were cool and fun who were in the band or MC’s)
      • Wow, this looks like a fun group
      • I don’t think they necessarily were getting involved in a movement
      • We were more about talking about the mission than doing it
    • I don’t think I did a great job (I was just trying to keep my head above water) at thinking strategically


Key Points

  • Even in the early days, when there were a lot of people coming, our “movement” was actually really pretty small – maybe 10-15 people who really got WBS, actively sharing their faith
  • Our “movement” is now 125-150 people (students who are sharing their faith)
  • What contributed to THAT growth (of your core)?
    • 5 or 6 years ago we really began to take spiritual multiplication seriously and asked “Are we really preparing people for a lifetime of ministry?”
    • We got dialed in on evangelism – which is really difficult to help staff remove everything off of their plates so they can focus on evangelism
    • When we really set out to make spiritual multipliers/grandchildren, we found out, “this is slow!”
    • It actually takes years
    • “Less happens in one year, more happens in five years” from Jim Sylvester
  • We have a big emphasis on encouraging our students to move back into the dorms (even in groups)


Success for Us

  • We track/measure two things the most:
  • How many people are actively involved in sharing their faith (that’s our top goal)
    • We want 125-150 people who are regularly communicating their faith (at least once a month) – not just telling someone they’re a Christian but bringing people to a point of decision
  • Multipliers/Spiritual grandchildren.
    • Are there students involved in our ministry who are really helping students have a ministry?
    • We’re pretty focused on it and work hard at it, but that number is pretty small
    • 17 is the most we’ve ever seen – students who are shepherding people who are having a ministry
    • We had 9 this year
    • “The grandchild has to be sharing their faith” – the litmus test of the leader


What do staff focus on?

  • Their primary job is to be in their target area, sharing their faith, with student leaders
    • We call it “The Critical Event” – a trained person taking a non-trained person to share their faith
  • Our staff share their faith A LOT
    • That’s what we ask them to do, day in/day out
    • Because they’re thinking multiplication, every appt they have to have a student with them (we think the best training for students is to watch someone else share their faith) as they share their faith
    • It’s usually said “I’m pouring my life into someone” – but we say “I’m trying to pour my life through someone” – anything I do with a student, I ask them “who’s someone you can do this with?” or “who’s someone you could tell about this?”
  • Every staff have a residence hall they’re focusing on (focusing on freshmen)
    • Every staff person is over prayer, outreach, etc
    • Every staff is a MTL over their area:
    • They build a team of leaders to reach their area
    • “How are we going to reach this dorm?”
    • Each area does their own prayer, socials, outreaches, etc
  • As we look at why staff say they don’t share their faith, they legitimately may not have time to do it because they have so much on their plates
    • They’re spending all their time doing socials, planning meetings
    • It’s unfair to ask staff to do everything they’re doing AND share their faith
    • How do I take those things off their plate?
    • Students will figure out how to do socials, what they’re not going to figure out is how to build an evangelistic movement and share their faith
    • We just decided, “how are we going to focus on this one thing”
    • And what do we need to say no to (aggressively)?
    • We made the decision to relentlessly take things off their plate that are not
      1. Evangelism
      2. Following up New Believers
    • The reason we see a lot of students come on staff, is they’ve gotten to share their faith a ton as students and seen life change, and they think “why would I not want to do that for my job?”


Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • We used to have a weekly leadership meeting but we killed it
  • But this last year we didn’t have a single leadership meeting
  • We have one overnight leadership meeting per semester
  • Each staff person does leadership training in their own area
  • We do some training corporately in how to share their faith – the week after the fall retreat
    • We essentially make it a part of the fall retreat, “we’re going to come back and get trained and get mobilized”
    • Monday right after fall retreat (for 2 hours)– students are at the peak of their excitement about who we are and what we are about
    • The main goals are:
      • Teach them the Knowing God Personally booklet
      • Get them to really think thru how to ask question to get into spiritual conversations
      • Assign them to a staff or student leader who are very skilled at sharing their faith (who will then take them out sharing 3-4 times in the following weeks)
        • Apart from modeling, they’re not going to get it (how to share their faith), so we don’t do much in the classroom
    • We give them just enough to get them out there and get killed : )



  • We don’t have any committees (prayer, evangelism, etc)
  • Everything just operates in areas – each area/dorm does their own prayer, socials, outreach, etc.


Weekly Meeting

  • We have a weekly meeting team but staff don’t meet with those students
    • They do everything
    • We just provide the teachers


Bible Study Structure

  • 45 small groups
  • about 335 people in small groups (early in the school year)
  • Studies are both student and staff led
  • They’re all team led (2-4 leaders)
    • One facilitates content, the other 2 or 3 think thru how to meet personally with each student how to share their faith


What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at Montana State?


photo courtesy of jimmywayne

Last Summer I researched the largest Cru movements in America. I narrowed the list down to 8 schools and I called the directors of these movements. In a 30-45 minute phone call I picked their brains on how they operate as a large movement, what elements played into their growth, how they lead as directors, etc.

Talking to the directors of the largest Cru movements was one of THE most beneficial things I’ve ever done: for my growth as a Director and for our movement.

Over the next few blog posts I want to share what I learned.

Largest Cru Movements

Let’s be clear from the start: Size isn’t everything.

Ministry size does not equal ministry success.


Tim Keller asks the question in his excellent (free!) ebook Ministry and Character:

How do we measure how well we are doing in ministry? Is it by mere growth in numbers, or by a faithfulness divorced from all results?

He goes on to explain:

“Being both excessively inflated or overly deflated by visible success is caused largely by pride and a lack of orientation to the gospel. Your worth and identity rises and falls not on being a rescued and loved sinner, but on being an effective minister.”


Ministry size does not determine our occupational or spiritual worth.


BUT, as Cru staff Tim Norman has said:

“There are good reasons why these movements are successful. Some of which others can principally embrace.”


AND, like many of you, we want to get the gospel to every single student on our campus.

This is something we are not just hoping to do, but planning to do.

Here’s what we figure: it will take about 100 trained, motivated, gospel-sharing Bible study leaders to have a shot at reaching the freshman class on our campus (around 4,000 freshmen= 40 freshmen to 1 Bible study leader).


In other words- we’re going to need to build a big enough movement to realistically be able to get the gospel to every student.

It’s not going to happen overnight but, for us, gleaning ideas from other (larger) movements has been the biggest accelerator of growth.


A quick preview of the Large Movements Blog Series

Here’s who I talked to (click the school to read that post):

These Cru ministries have anywhere from 400-1200 students involved.

Many of these directors have seen their movements grow from 50 to over 500 in the past decade.

Why these 8?

These are not necessarily the 8 biggest Cru movements in the nation (but they’re probably in the top 15 – at least as of Summer 2011).

I tried to pick schools from across the U.S. – usually choosing the largest Cru movements from each geographical region.

I focused on traditional staffed campuses (no catalytic or city-wide movements). But since we’re all trying to build movements I think the learnings will be helpful for anyone in college ministry.


In the coming days I will devote a separate post to what I gleaned from each campus as well as some summary posts on:

  • What do Staff Do (how do they spend their time, what role do they play in the movement)?
  • What does the Director do?
  • What contributed to your growth (are there any commonalities)?
  • Top 10 Takeaways from talking to these ministries


If you had to guess, what do you think were the biggest contributors to growing large movements?


photo courtesy of Today is a good day 


Chris Brogan with some great insights:

“photos with text over them are the new big thing.” Have you noticed your Facebook stream lately? A huge chunk of what goes by lately are photos with text over them.

For whatever reason, the “photos with text” experience gives us that feeling we get when we read magazines. It makes the texty text of blogging a lot less stark. It draws our eyes in. It’s fast to consume, and it brings an emotional response faster.

He gives three key ways to think about their use:

  1. Make interesting graphics worth sharing.
  2. Make it easy to share them.
  3. Evoke an emotion.

Using photos to gain visibility on Facebook is definitely something we’ve been trying to do more of (thanks to Brian Barela’s repeated advice over the past 2 years). Every time we post an event on Facebook we try to include a photo:

As you scanned over those last three images, you can see why it is so powerful:

  • It only took you a few seconds
  • It was visually appealing
  • It wasn’t a boring block of text that you skim straight over

But I don’t think we’ve tapped into the full potential of marketing on Facebook in the “photos with text” world.

What are you thoughts on how to better capitalize on Brogan’s three keys (I don’t think we do well at #2 or #3)?

“God has a specific plan for our lives BUT it is not one He expects us to figure out before we make a decision.”

(or: The reason we have a hard time discovering God’s wonderful plan for our lives is because He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is. AND we are wrong to expect Him to)

I want to share what is probably my favorite talk I’ve ever given – so that you can use it to help guide men and women to make Godly decisions.

Most Christians have an unbiblical approach to discerning the will of God and making decisions.

And many young people are paralyzed with uncertainty about what to do next with their lives (leaving them to delay real life and passively extend their adolescence).

We are waiting for a sign from God – relying on arbitrary means like open door/closed door, signs, fleeces, and feeling a peace.

What we should be looking for is not guidance but how to become a person that God can guide.

And we need to consider what our worrying about the future tells us about our underlying, root sin – we don’t trust God and WE want to control our future.

This talk is largely based on the book “Just Do Something” – a must read for everyone but especially those of you in college ministry.

The book is short (as opposed to the OG book “Decision Making and the Will of God” book that weighs in at over 2 pounds) and brilliant.

The talk also pulls some from Tim Keller’s incredible sermon “Your Plans, God’s Plans”.


I have given it in two formats:

  • A two week series (two Cru talks)
  • Or one 45 minute talk

Here are links to both versions of:

The reason I post them is for you to use them. Feel free to adapt or use as is.

If you want to, you can let me know in the comments if you find them helpful.


Some condensed points from the talk:

  • College is essentially one big decision after another
  • There’s a statement made popular by Campus Crusade that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”
  • If God has a wonderful plan for my life, then why doesn’t He tell me what it is?
  • Have you ever stopped to think about why life is like it is?
  • Why did God set it up that we can’t see the future?
  • I’d like for us to consider that maybe why we have a hard time discovering God’s wonderful plan for our lives because He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is
  • And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to
  • One of the things that is so confusing is that the “will of God” is used in three different ways
  • When people say I want to know the “Will of God” they could mean one of three things
  • Two are Biblical (but very distinct ideas)
  • The third is the common view and, I’d say, is not Biblical
  • And it’s really important that you understand the distinction between these three:

1) God’s Sovereign Will

  • The detailed plan that God has ordained
  • Everything that happens is according to God’s sovereign plan
  • God micromanages our lives
  • God knows all things and sovereignly plans all things

2) God’s Moral Will

  • Refers to what God has commanded – what He desires from us
  • If the Sovereign Will of God is how things are, His Moral Will is how things ought to be
  • How life works best
  • God’s Sovereign Will cannot be thwarted but His Moral Will can be disregarded
  • I Thess 4:3-5
  • “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;”
  • The will of God in this passage does not refer to the way God ordains things but to the way God commands us to live

3) God’s Individual Will

  • This is what we are looking for in our questions: “where should I live? What job should I take? What does God want me to do with my life?”
  • We seek God’s individual will
  • We want to know his individual, specific plan for the who, what, where, when and how of our lives
  • This is the traditional understanding of God’s will
  • A secret individual will that He expects us to figure out before we do anything
  • So does God have a secret individual will that He expects us to figure out before we do anything?
  • NO
  • So does God have a specific plan for your life?
  • Yes
  • And Yes we know it is good/wonderful – Rom 8:28
  • God does have a specific plan for our lives BUT it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision
  • I’m not saying:
  • God won’t help you make decisions (called wisdom – we’ll talk more about that next week)
  • God doesn’t care about your future
  • God isn’t in control of your future
  • We shouldn’t pray to God about our future
  • Traditional understanding of God’s will:
    • “Conventional understanding of God’s will defines it as a specific pathway we should follow into the future. God knows what this pathway is, and he has laid it out for us to follow. Our responsibility is to discover this pathway – God’s plan for our lives. We must discover which of the many pathways we could follow is the one we should follow, the one God has planned for us. If and when we make the right choice, we will receive his favor, fulfill our divine destiny and succeed in life. . . If we choose rightly, we will experience his blessing and achieve success and happiness. If we choose wrongly, we may lose our way, miss God’s will for our lives and remain lost forever in an incomprehensible maze” – Gerald Sitter

Problems with traditional approach

  • It undermines personal responsibility and initiative
    • “God told me”
    • Have you ever had a friend say, “God is leading me to date her, or to transfer schools”? How do you respond to that? It puts their decisions out of reach of criticism
    • Or even worse, a girl breaks up with you and you get the dreaded “I’ve been praying about it a lot and the HS told me to break up with you”. Not only are you getting rejected by Susie the hottest girl at the U of A but the third person of the trinity
    • Haddon Robinson:
    • “If we ask, “How can I know the will of God?” we may be asking the wrong question. The scriptures do not command us to find God’s will for most of life’s choices nor do we have any passage instructing us on how it can be determined. Yet we persist in searching for God’s will because decisions require thought and sap energy. We seek relief from the responsibility of decision-making and we feel less threatened by being passive rather than active when making important choices.”
    • Many of you are paralyzed with indecisiveness and we sometimes spiritualize it and call it “I just haven’t figured out what God’s will is for my life”
    • The problem with that is that he has revealed 95% of his Will – His Moral will
  • Everything is subjective
    • With the typical approach it’s really just a guessing game and reduces life to a series of random guesses
    • These are the common approaches of the typical approach
      • Open Door/Close Door
      • Sign from God
      • Fleece
      • “A peace”
    • We never take risks b/c we don’t feel a peace about it
    • How do you think Jesus felt about going to the Cross?
    • The fact is, most “big” decisions will leave us feeling uneasy
  • It promotes an unhealthy preoccupation with the future
    • If you don’t get anything else I say, I want you to hear this
    • Our fascination with the future & the will of God can show a deeper, root issue in our life
    • Read Matthew 6:25-34
    • Big idea of the passage could not be any clearer – Jesus does not want us to worry about the future
    • Interpretation/Synthesizing- God knows what we need to live and we should not worry
    • Here’s the Application for us – And this is HUGE
    • Look at what Jesus says about Worry and anxiety – They’re not merely bad habits
    • What does he say in v. 30? They’re a sign of little faith
    • Worry reflects our hearts distrust in the goodness and sovereignty of God
    • Worry is a spiritual issue and must be fought with faith
    • We don’t trust God
    • It’s not good enough that he has a plan for us
    • That he has A-Z mapped out. We want to know what l,m,n,o & p are for tomorrow
    • And Why? So we can feel in control
    • Worry about the future is not just a minor flaw
    • It’s an indication that our hearts are not trusting in God’s promises
    • Obsessing over the future is not how God wants us to live
    • Showing us the future is not God’s way
    • His way is to speak to us in the Bible and transform us from the inside out through His Word and Holy Spirit
    • We should stop looking for God to reveal the future to us and remove all risk from our lives
    • Because we have confidence in God’s Sovereign Will, we can radically commit ourselves to His Moral Will, without fretting over a hidden individual will
    • In other words, God doesn’t take risks, so we can
  • God doesn’t so much tell you how to get guided
  • He tells you how to become the kind of person that can be guided
  • Radically trust God and you will slowly become a person who makes wise plans
  • John Newton – “what you will, when you will, how you will”
  • It’s daily choices to spend time with God seeking Him
  • This isn’t what most people want to hear
  • You’re saying – I have a decision I have to make right now [I’m a senior and graduate in May– tell me what to do]
  • “How do I know what God is leading me to do?”

Three ways to walk in the guidance of God

  • Commit yourself fully to God
    • Read the Bible
    • That slowly turns you into a person of wisdom who can be guided
    • Pray
    • Now if you’ve been paying attention, here’s what you should be asking about prayer:
    • But what do we pray for if we aren’t asking God to tell us exactly what to do?
    • Do these two consistently and you will become a humble, teachable, leadable person
  • Seek wise counsel
  • Pick something (Use your brain and Pick something)
    • Then after you’ve studied God’s Word and sought advice and prayed, make a decision and don’t hyper-spiritualize it. Do what seems best
    • Examples of the Apostles
    • I Thess 3:1-2 “we thought it best”
    • Phil 2:25-26 “I thought it necessary”
    • I Cor. 16:3-4 “if it is fitting”
    • Acts 6:2-4 “it is not desirable”
    • Acts 15:28-29 “it seemed good”
  • Don’t wait to be called
  • Illustration: You’re walking one day and come upon a small, handicapped child laying on the railroad tracks. The child cannot move, and you hear the sound of an oncoming train. Do you stop, get on your knees, and ask if it’s God’s will to pick up the child? If you don’t get a clear sense of God’s call, do you move on? Of course not. God’s will is clear. Save the life.
  • I often think about this in regards to the question of whether or not we need to go overseas. Jesus made it clear that his will was for people of every nation to know the gospel. Why, then, are so many Christians waiting for God to spell out “Afghanistan” in their Cheerios—before they go? The call has been given. Go. If your talents can best serve God’s kingdom by using them overseas, why would you wait on a call to do so?
  • Robert Speer once famously said: “With many of us it is not a missionary call at all that we are looking for; it is a shove
  • If you are drinking deeply of God’s Word and regularly seeking good counsel from others and you are a person of prayer you should begin to make many impt decision instinctively, and some of them even quickly
  • Study scriptures, pray continuously, listen to others, and make a decision