Archives For June 2013

shuttle launchI often get asked the question – if most of what you do is focus on freshmen do upperclassmen feel neglected (see this recent post on reaching freshmen over at Campus Ministry Toolbox)?

The answer is sometimes “yes” but it should always be “no”.

Yes, we have upperclassmen lament that they feel overlooked. And sometimes they are right. One of our goals this fall is to really invest in our upperclassmen Bible Studies because we DO feel like we have neglected those.

But here’s the thing: in reaching freshmen, we ARE developing upperclassmen in the most strategic way possible. Upperclassmen are getting an opportunity to lead and be developed and be stretched in ways that will pay dividends for decades to come.

What’s missing? Clear communication.

We need to help upperclassmen see that their primary need is not for “me-time” where we exclusively focus on them (see When Can Discipleship Actually Be a Bad Thing). They need to be pushed out of the nest to focus on others and be trained as a laborer for Christ.

Upperclassmen do need personal attention focused on their walks with God (first and foremost). But they also need help in becoming an adult which = the glad assumption of responsibility. And they need to take responsibility for the greatest need in the world – bringing the good news of Christ to the ends of the earth.

For us, that means communicating over and over to upperclassmen how they are benefiting from this indispensable training they are getting. Even though it may FEEL like you’re not the primary focus, in reaching others YOU are being developed.

The biggest “win” in our focus on reaching freshmen is probably that hundreds of upperclassmen are getting to taste the life-changing experience of being used by God to change another person’s life.

By reaching freshmen we are training up a new generation of laborers. And we want those freshmen being reached to turn the corner as quickly as possible: from being reached to reaching.

What do you think? Agree/Disagree?



This is the fourth in a series of posts on Raising Support. Click to read the 1st2nd, or 3rd

I spent 10 weeks this spring raising support. I learned a lot and wanted to share the wealth. 


This spring we were very blessed to have a few supporters join our team in the range of $500-$1000/monthly. It’s not like we’re just awash in big donors. Previously we had 2 supporters in that range. Here’s a few things we learned.

Insights on asking for significant monthly support:

2 people at business meeting

Who should you ask?

  • Your own discernment will get you a long way – but you need to have some indication that they are capable of giving at this level.
  • This is not by, any means, a normal ask that you will use very often.
  • This spring we asked 101 people for support. I only asked 4 to contribute at this level. 3 chose to do so. The 4th joined our monthly team at a lesser amount.

Respect their time

  • I offered to stop by their office for 15 minutes. Most of them wanted to just talk on the phone for 5 minutes. Obviously face to face, relationship building is better. I had known most of these folks for many years so the phone option worked fine.

They won’t be offended by your ask

  • They are used to being asked and are not offended and likely make big financial decisions every day for their job. They will tell you no if they don’t want to give. But they won’t be offended.

Offer an option to give annually

  • Many large donors like to give all at once.

Be prepared and know your numbers

  • They might ask a lot of critical questions – but don’t take it personally. They want to give wisely and be well informed donors.
  • These are often successful businesspeople who live in the realm of numbers and spreadsheets. They will be doing the math in their head as you talk about your need.
    • Me: “I need $4,400 in monthly support…”
    • Them (interrupting): “So that’s close to $53,000 on an annual basis. Why do you need that much?”
    • Me: “That will get us back to full salary – $60,000 – and cover our healthcare and personal ministry expenses”

Be able to answer – “How did you get into this predicament?”

  • My response:

“This past fall we were getting short paychecksIt’s a combination of the economy (we lost some key supporters in the past few years) and our costs have escalated.

We haven’t stopped to raise support like this since we came on staff 15 years ago. With 5 kids and increased healthcare costs, our financial needs have grown quite a bit.

So this spring I am working full time on raising our personal support and taking serious aim at broadening our base of support so we can lead long term with Cru in reaching college students in an undistracted way.”

Let them know that they are not alone

  • I’ve heard from several wealthy, Godly, generous people that one of their chief concerns is you becoming dependent on them.
  • I’ve heard it in different ways:
    • “I don’t want to give too much because I don’t want to steal the blessing of giving from others” (And they seem to genuinely mean this. They find joy in giving. They could give much more. But they want others to partner with us too.)
    • “It worries me that if my company should go under it will take you with it.”
    • “I once supported someone significantly and was unable to continue for a season, and they couldn’t recover. They left ministry.”
  • So I make a point to let them know that they are not alone – we have several people who give in this way.
  • What I say: “We have a handful of supporters who are significant partners with us in reaching college student who give between $500-$1000 monthly, or $6-12,000 on an annual basis. Would you and Julie consider partnering with us in this way?”


If it would be helpful to you, you can download a Word doc of my flow of a conversation/ask for a significant monthly gift.


Next Post: 10 Tips and Resources for Raising Support


photo courtesy of thinkpanama


This is the third in a series of posts on Raising Support in ministry. Click to read the 1st and 2nd

I spent 10 weeks this spring raising support. I learned a lot and wanted to share the wealth. 


cattleOne of the most helpful things to me in this season of raising support full time has been gaining a deeper understanding of the Biblical foundation of raising support.

The One who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” is not sweating my support needs.


A few (of many) examples of support raising from the New Testament that were particularly encouraging to me:


The Example of Jesus:

Luke 8

“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.”

Scott Morton in his book Funding Your Ministry with some profound insight:

“If it were wrong to be supported by the personal gifts of others, Jesus Christ would not have allowed it in His own ministry. Jesus was not underwritten by a religious body, nor did He work an outside job once He began His ministry. He allowed Himself and His team to be supported by the gifts of a large group of followers.

Could not the One who turned water into wine have supported Himself? Could not the One who multiplied two fish and five loaves into enough food for 5,000 have supported Himself? If anyone could have been self-supporting, it was Jesus Christ. And yet He purposely chose to live by the gifts of “many others.”

I spoke to a department manager at a missions agency office about helping one of her workers raise personal support. “Oh, we don’t do it that way!” she replied piously. No one in her department would ever “stoop” to receiving personal support. Too bad. Jesus did. Was He wrong?

If Jesus Christ became vulnerable enough to be supported by others, you and I must be willing as well.”


The Teaching of Jesus:

Luke 10:1-8

Steve Shadrach’s commentary on this passage: “After modeling to the disciples (in Luke 8) a life lived on support, He then turned them loose to do the same. Jesus sent them out in pairs to go door-to-door to people they did not know and ask for the room and board required to carry out their ministry in that city. What was His rationale? “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Here Jesus reaffirmed an Old Testament principle that God’s ministers deserve to be fully supported.”


Paul’s Teaching and Example:

I Cor 9

Paul speaks at length throughout the chapter about funding for his ministry and culminates with: “the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” It’s not an option but a command.

Philippians 4:10-19

Starting in v 15: “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”


What Bible passages are most encouraging to you as you raise support?

Tomorrow I will share: How to Ask for $1000/Month Gifts.


photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos

This is the Second in a series of posts on Raising Support in ministry. Read the First for an intro. 

I spent 10 weeks this spring raising support. I learned a lot along the way and wanted to share the wealth. 


From observing thousands of missionaries raise support, Steve Shadrach has observed the following trends:

  • For a Small Group ask or just sending a letter/email – 10% will respond (support you)
  • Letters/Emails followed up with phone calls – 25% will support you
  • Face to Face appointments – 50% will support you


I thought it would be interesting/helpful to share statistics from my personal experience.

I’ll highlight a few insights and then share the raw data below:

  • 75% of Face to Face Appointments resulted in support (61% monthly supporters; 13% with One Time Gifts)
  • It took 8 calls/messages (email/text/Facebook) to get one appointment
  • It took 12 calls/messages to get 1 monthly supporter
  • The average monthly gift was $102/month (a HUGE change from raising support 15 years ago when I mostly asked for/received $25 and $50/mo)
  • For those that were long distance (too far to drive to have an appointment with) I emailed or Facebook messaged to try to set up a phone appt (click to download a Word doc of what I say in the email).
    • 27% of those emails resulted in phone appointment (so the vast majority never made it to phone appointments)
      • But with those that I was able to get a hold of on the phone (i.e. they answered my persistent phone calls), 77% supported us
        • My theory on the reason for that high percentage is that if they took the time to talk on the phone they had likely already made up their mind to support us.
      • Exactly matching up with Steve Shadrach’s stats, 25% of people I emailed/called supported us
      • Of those “conversations” that were just conducted via email/Facebook, 89% resulted in a “no”.
        • 3 people joined our monthly support team with just conversation over email/Facebook.
  • So meeting Face to Face is the quickest (though slow!) way to raise support.


Statistics from My 10 Weeks of Support Raising:

mpd stats


Would love to hear from you: any insights jump out at you? What surprised you? Does this match up pretty closely with your experience?


Tomorrow I will share some Biblical foundations that were helpful for me as I raised support.

This is the first in a series of posts on Raising Support in ministry.

A little personal background:

I am not a natural support raiser – I’m not an extroverted networker.

This spring we needed to take 10 weeks off campus to work on raising support and, to be honest, I was dreading the experience. We have been on staff with Cru for 15 years and after our initial support raising, the most we had ever raised was $1000/mo (in a summer). This spring we needed to raise $4,000 in monthly support and I thought it would never happen. Yet God has provided in amazing ways and I have learned a lot along the way.

In the next few posts I would love to share some great resources and insights from this experience of raising support.


Steve Shadrach is a leading expert on support raising. He just released a new book on support raising The God Ask – endorsed by Ellis Goldstein (Cru’s Guru of Support Raising) among many others. Cru Staff- I have a hunch we’ll get a free copy at Staff Conference. I’d recommend following Steve’s organization: Support Raising Solutions on Twitter.


harvestSteve gave a talk at Urbana on 5 Essential Keys to Fully Fund Your Ministry I’d highly recommend to anyone who raises support.


Great insights from the talk:

  • The biggest need of the world is laborers (the harvest is plentiful, the workers are few…)
  • The biggest obstacle = support (thousands want to do full time ministry but don’t/won’t raise support)


  • We need to move from budget driven to vision driven…
  • Most people in ministry make decisions based on “how much will it cost” instead of “will it further the spread of the gospel?” or “will it help my family flourish as I spread the gospel?”
  • We don’t want the epitaph on our generation to read: “we kept overhead low”
  • We want to change the world
  • Aside: see this fascinating TED Talk for a totally different (secular), yet likeminded, viewpoint- Too many nonprofits are rewarded for how little they spend – not for what they get done.


  • The average time for people to get to full support (across all ministries):
    • 18-23 months
  • We challenge people to get to 100% in 100 days


  • As we’ve trained 7500 people from 500 organizations in raising support, we’ve observed these Stats on Support Raising Methods:
    • For a Small Group ask or just sending a letter/email – 10% will respond (support you)
    • Letters/Emails followed up with phone calls – 25% will respond
    • Face to Face appointments – 50% will respond


Tomorrow I’ll share my personal stats and insights from 10 weeks of raising support.


photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney

table at cru2This is a snapshot of the transition we want every freshmen to make (and a true story):

It was John’s first week of school, and as he walked into the dorm cafeteria he passed a table where an upperclassmen with Cru offered, “Free Chick-fil-A if you fill out a quick survey!”

John took a minute to fill out the spiritual interest survey and went about his day.

A few days later a couple upperclassmen knocked on his door: They shared the gospel with John and ended with – “we lead a Bible study here in the Quads and would love for you to come tonight”. John started going to the study, went on Fall Retreat and started going to the bi-monthly Cru Leadership.

As he started the spring semester, John found himself again in front of the dorm cafeteria at a survey table. This time, he was on the other side of the table asking his fellow freshmen to fill out a quick survey (and later that week following up with them, sharing the gospel with them, and inviting them to the Bible study he was in).

[side note: we don’t usually do surveys in the spring but did in this case because they were trying to relaunch a struggling dorm Bible study]

John made the comment to one of the Cru leaders – “it’s crazy how just a semester ago I was the one being reached and now I am the one reaching out.”

Since that comment “getting freshmen to move behind the table” has become our mantra.

We want freshmen to quickly move from being reached to reaching others.

A few ways we do that:

  • Immediately involving them in follow up:
    • As you meet with a freshman during the first week of school and discover that they are a solid, missional believer challenge them to go do follow-ups with you.
    • They can just watch the first few appointments and then start owning more and more of the gospel conversation.
    • On our campus you cannot go into the dorms without a resident escort. Having a freshman resident go do follow ups with you is a door opener.
  • Use Biblical content (we use Gospel Centered Life) in their freshmen Bible study that helps them:
    1. Understand, for themselves, the radical message of the gospel (usually for the first time)
    2. Understand the Great Commission and their role in it
  • Talk often about your Community Group being a missional community, placed in the dorm to reach the dorm.
    • Challenge freshmen to invite their roommates, classmates, students on their hall.
    • As a study, brainstorm together how to reach more freshmen.
  • Giving them early opportunities to lead:
    • Every fall we have a Barn Dance outreach that is exclusively planned by a team of freshmen
    • We encourage them to lead on our “Cru Serves” team and to lead prayer movements.
    • By late fall start talking to them about leading a Freshman Bible Study next fall (so they start looking for opportunities to get experience as a leader – like leading content one week in their own Study)


What are some ways that you help Freshmen move behind the table?


hbrSome interesting insights on leading Millennials from Harvard Business Review:

They share well with others (and expect to be shared with):

They are adept at finding information and expect it to be readily available. They are comfortable reaching out directly to people in a way that can be disconcerting to older employees whose workplace relationships have traditionally been constrained by the organization’s hierarchy.

As Nilofer Merchant has observed, social technology is changing the nature of power in organizations.

When you are accustomed to and skilled at finding and freely sharing information, it makes no sense to have information locked up in various parts of an organizational structure. In fact, it feels frustratingly antiquated. What this means for older managers: they must shift from being controllers of information to facilitators of its sharing and collaborative use towards achieving organizational goals.

I love this and think it’s extremely encouraging for the future of world-changing enterprises. Sharing and collaboration FTW.


What motivates Millennials is what motivates all employees:

It’s crucial to understand what motivates Millennials. The most powerful tool to build Millennials’ commitment to the organization is this: offering regular opportunities to learn and develop — not just through training, but through a variety of challenging tasks, the opportunity to work with people who impart valuable knowledge, and regular developmental feedback. As it turns out, this is how you build commitment in employees of all ages.

Despite what the stereotype might suggest, effectively engaging Millennials is not about letting employees wear jeans and bring their dogs to work, dude. The key is providing challenging, meaningful work, communicating, helping employees to see their contribution, and making sure they have opportunities to learn and grow.


In college ministry, I think we provide ample opportunities for:

  • Challenging, meaningful work
  • Opportunities to learn and develop

I think what we could improve on is “helping them see their contribution”.

Whether this is student leaders or Interns/Staff – we could improve at clearing communicating:

  • “THIS is the meaningful, challenging work that you are doing.”
  • “Here are 4 ways you are going to learn and develop this year.”
  • “Through doing _____ you made a unique contribution and lives were changed eternally.”

A little intentional communication could help Millennials connect the dots in realizing that they actually ARE doing challenging, meaningful work that is making a difference.


What are your favorite takeaways from the HBR excerpts?


every good endeavorTim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor has been on my nightstand to-read stack since it came out.

Enter Andrew Wise with this handy Executive Summary. Andrew just graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and was an intern with us with Cru for two years. His professional opinion on the book:

“this should be required reading for every college freshman/sophomore”

While I still plan to read the book…in the meantime this is a helpful, well organized overview of the book, chapter by chapter.

Some highlights:

“Our work can only be a calling if it is reimagined as a mission of service to something beyond merely our own interests”

If this life is all there is… everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught…Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.

Without meaningful work we sense significant loss and emptiness…Work is one of the ways we make ourselves useful to others and discover our identities.

Work of all kinds, whether with hands or minds, evidences our dignity as human beings because it reflects the image of God the Creator in us.

Choosing Work: “How, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and human need.

Since we already have in Christ the things other people work for, salvation, self-worth, a good conscience, and peace – now we may work simply to love God and our neighbors.

If you have to choose between work that benefits more people and work that pays you more, you should seriously consider the job that pays less and helps more – particularly if you can be great at it.

All work is objectively valuable, but it will not be subjectively fulfilling unless you see it as a calling to love your neighbor.

Today young people are seeking to define themselves by the status of their work. It is a major identity marker.

    • Many college students do not choose work that actually fits their abilities, talents, and capacities, but rather choose work that fits within their limited imagination of how they can boost their own self-image.
    • Three kinds of jobs they see – those that pay well, those that directly serve society’s needs, and the cool factor.
    • Results in students choosing work that doesn’t fit them or fields too competitive for them. Sets them up for dissatisfaction / meaninglessness.

If we have the luxury of options, we should choose work that we can do well – what’s something you can excel at?

Some great thoughts from Tim Keller on Evangelism in this video.

Some highlights:

  • If you strictly do Evangelism, the outside world sees it as recruitment, increasing your tribe, a power grab
  • You need to combine Word and Deed.
  • The best way to combine Evangelism and Good Deeds is on a personal level (more difficult to do on a organizational level)
    • You’re not going to love a friend without sharing the Gospel with them. And as a friend you will serve them as there is a need
  • Keller’s two steps for setting up Evangelism:
    1. Let the other person know you go to church
    2. Let the other person know that your Christian faith means something to you, even in passing: “my Christian faith has really helped me here…”
      • There are a lot of simple behaviors that you should be doing, that will lead in a very organic way into deeper spiritual discussion
      • You should be doing the simple behaviors first:
        • Loving and caring for people
        • Being a person of integrity
        • Letting people know that your Christian faith
      • And it will just bubble up naturally
      • I think most people think, I have to find out a way to get the whole gospel out in one conversation or get in a debate about Creation and Evolution. That’s not the way to go. Be simple.
  • He goes on to talk about how sharing the gospel in the city is more complex and requires more skill.

HT: @hanskristensen


On my Stuff You Can Use for the First Week on Campus post (which has spiritual interest surveys, fliers, brochures, and other free & helpful stuff on it), a recent commenter, Ron Cram, wanted more details on how we do spiritual interest surveys. And since I love data analysis I couldn’t resist sharing what the data tells us.

I think it’s pretty interesting to see what correlation there is between

  • number of surveys done the first week of school AND
  • number of freshmen that actually get involved (in Bible studies)


So here’s Ron’s comments/questions and my answers:

Tim, I am interested in an analysis of the data on the card. It sounds like you got 3000 students to complete the card…

We do about 3000 surveys over the first few weeks at various events. The stats below reflect the 2500 surveys we do at tables we set up outside of dorm cafeterias on the second and third day of class. Why not the first day? Because our Cru meeting is on Tuesday, and Dorm Studies on Wednesday. When we do a survey with them we give them a “Free Chick-fil-A Sandwich” card and a flyer for Cru and Dorm Bible Studies (and we say, “you should join us tonight at Cru/Bible Study”)

How many of them indicated an interest in Cru?

1 Minute Questionnaire

Click to see full size

To download a Photoshop file you can edit to use on your campus, click here.

We don’t keep stats specifically on each question because it doesn’t affect how we do follow up. We follow up anyone who checks “yes” on either question.

70% of students checked “yes” on one of the two questions.

30% of the respondents answered “no-no”. Not interested in Cru nor Bible studies (we don’t follow them up at all).

Here’s the breakdown of how they answered:

“How interested are you in exploring spiritual matters in college (1- not interested 5= very interested)?”

1 = 7%
2 = 13%
3 = 29%
4 = 21%
5 = 24%
No answer = 6%

So on our campus, about 25% of students are not interested in spiritual things. 75% are at least mildly interested. How does that compare to your campus?

How many actually got involved?

We noticed this a few years ago: it’s not important how many spiritual surveys we do, as long as we’re doing enough to have a plenty big pool of contacts to follow up (I’d say around 1000-1500). Doing more surveys does not result in more freshmen getting involved (at least for us).

That being said, we do feel that it is good to do surveys with as many freshmen as possible for several reasons:

      • Every person we do a survey with, we get face to face with and invite them verbally and with a flier to a Cru event. And they get something free (Chick-fil-A card or sunglasses) – hopefully a very positive first experience with Cru.
      • If we can do surveys with a high percentage of the freshmen class, we have a baseline understanding of where A LOT of students are at spiritually. As we bump into students later in the year (or the next 4), we can quickly look them up on Mission Hub and know “Michael was not very interested in spiritual things at all in August 2012 – he put 1-yes-no. Joey Smith met with him and invited him to a Bible study but he never came” 

Here’s what our stats showed us:

surveys vs freshmen involved

You notice from 2008 to 2009 we doubled the number of surveys we did. But it has zero impact on getting more freshmen involved.

Here’s what matters and causes more freshmen to get involved:

    1. Having more student Community Group leaders. You can see how the growth in Freshmen in studies correlates with (and I would say is caused by):

      study leaders

    2. The quality and thoroughness of follow up


How many people (staff or students) were involved in collecting this data? How long did it take? Was it all done in one day?

We do tables for two days at five locations (4 dorm cafeterias and the Union) from 11am-1pm and 5-6:30pm.

Our 10 staff are at the tables both days at lunch. Students are present at the tables for both lunch and dinner. I would guess that we have 30 students at lunch and 30 at dinner each day. Maybe a total of 50-75 helping during the two days?

Right after we collect all the cards we divvy up the cards among students and they enter in the information into Mission Hub. I have no idea how long that takes. I would guess 5 hours for about 20 students?

We also do spiritual interest surveys at two big freshmen cookouts during move-in week, a midnight “Frisbees and Flapjacks” event, and our Cru meetings.


Hopefully that data/information is helpful for you as think through a gameplan for getting in contact with (and reaching!) freshmen in the Fall.

Would love to hear from you what you have seen on your campus – what has resulted in you getting more freshmen involved?