Large Cru Movements – Miami

July 31, 2012 — 7 Comments

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


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  • Pingback: Learning from Large Cru Movements | Leading in Ministry()

  • I am loving this series and gleaning some great ideas for the CRU ministry here in the Triad. However, this entry seems to focus solely on guys (staff guys, student guys). Perhaps that is just because the director is a guy and focuses on men in ministry. But it is disheartening as a staff woman to see another place where I feel like we are overlooked and undervalued.

    • Anonymous

      Michelle – thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I noticed the same thing. Miami seems to be the most dichotomized ministry I interviewed! Seems like the men’s and women’s ministry are very different – that Jane runs the women’s side and Mark focuses on the men. And they approach ministry fairly differently. Not sure if that’s entirely accurate. But that’s definitely the vibe I got.
      (and it’s shown by how there are 25-30 guys and more than 120 women leading CG’s!)

      • It would be interesting to hear Jane’s side of things. How is she running the women’s side of things? Any chance you might share that in the future?

    • Youth Worker

      I just came across this – I know way late. I was a student 20 years ago. I was there during the transition between Roger and Mark. I feel like the men and women students and staff were treated as equal but very different. It was very different from the Methodist church I grew up in and returned to after graduation. I was there during the height of “Kissed Dating Goodbye” so I assume some things are better now.

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