Large Cru Movements – Cal Poly SLO

July 27, 2012 — 13 Comments



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?



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  • jim layman

    I’d like to know more about how the majority culture Cru movement interacts with the EFM work on campus.

    • Jamey Pappas

      Our staff coach the student leaders of those movements. Many EFM students attend the Cru meeting as well and attend some of our stuff. In general here is how it goes; it’s kind of like raising kids! We give birth to the movement and at first, we are pretty hands on in terms of coaching. Then, as the movement grows and matures (and as the leaders grow and mature), we are less hands on. Our EPIC movement is pretty established and we more shepherd the leaders more than coach the ministry directly.

      • Anonymous

        Jamey – thanks so much for answering questions on here! So helpful to not only learn about your movement but also be able to get more specific details in the comments.

      • Jamesmlayman

        Thanks, Jamey! I was wondering how the EFM national ministries were involved. I like the idea of steering the new EFM movements to become self-directive; we want a lot more EFM movements birthed from Cru but then given sufficient autonomy to “be contextualized”. That requires some dexterity on the part of our staff…so thanks for working with that.

  • Mike H

    Tim, love the thoughts…just forwarded this post to my friends over here in the same line of work…

    Keep it coming…love the blog.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Mike!

  • Paul Worcester

    Great stuff! Lots of stuff to learn. Do
    they have a lot of upperclassmen live in the dorms? Twitter/PaulWorcester

    • Jamey Pappas

      Do you mean as RA’s or in general? As RA’s, we have some of our students do that. Cal Poly sued to have very few dorms for older students but they have recently built some really nice digs! Still, the vast majority of older students are off campus.

      • Jamey Pappas

        used not sued

      • Paul Worcester

        Thanks for the answer! I was curious. The ministry I went to (OU BSU) the school allowed upper class-men to live in the freshman dorms without being an RA. They have about 150+ students live in the dorms to reach the halls. Do your student leaders live in houses together and invite freshman over to hangout? Any advice in helping students develop effective house ministries?

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