Archives For August 2013

An annual tradition on the blog – a ton of stuff you can use on campus. Hopefully it saves you some time or gives you ideas.

Cool Music

Here’s an all-new 2013 Spotify playlist that we use at all of our freshmen cookouts and our weekly meeting.

It’s a mix of Indie Rock, Pop/Dance, and Christian Hip Hop.

We pay $10 for the month of August to get Spotify Premium so you don’t have annoying commercials.

glow sticks and beach balls1

As I’ve said before:

While cool, upbeat music may be #27 on the list of important things about a weekly meeting, it’s important nonetheless.

What’s the first thing students encounter when they come to your meeting? Your music that you’re playing before the meeting.

And what happens when they hear Newsboys or Rebecca St. James pumping out of your speakers? You immediately confirm their worst suspicions that you are cheezy and out of touch with their reality.

As much as I am not a big fan of hip hop nor dance music, at our weekly meeting we include quite a bit of hip hop/dance. I run the music at our regional winter conference and can conclusively say that hip hop & dance makes a marked difference on the “vibe” of the crowd. It makes your meeting a party. Literally. People dance. Especially if you add beach balls and glow necklaces (we have our first 3 weekly meetings outside – beach balls may be a little less fun indoors).

 

Intro Video for Weekly Meeting

Here’s a video we show at the beginning of our meeting the first few weeks. It serves two purposes:

  1. It functions as a cue to sit down and be quiet (there is intentionally space at the beginning to give everyone a chance to sit down).
  2. It communicates a little about who we are and what we’re about

To download it: click the Vimeo logo to go to the site.

Spiritual Interest Survey

We’ve put a lot of effort into streamlining our Spiritual Interest Survey card. We do it with 3000 freshmen/students the first week of class – so we want it to be quick and effective. Click here to download the photoshop file so you can edit it to fit your needs. Click for an adapted version we use at a Community College – pdf or Photoshop. And here’s one we use with athletes for AIA – pdf or Photoshop.

1 Minute Questionnaire

Cru Card

Our Cru Card that we use for our weekly meeting is similar but a bit different. You can download the photoshop file here.

1 Minute Questionnaire

Simple Cru Flier

Nothing special. But I always think it’s fun to see what other campuses do for promo. Here it is in Photoshop if you want to edit it and use it on your campus: Cru & Bible Studies (2 separate files)

Cru and dorm studies - blog

We used to do them in color but have found that b/w is just as sharp looking IF:

  • You print them on card stock
  • Have them “cut to bleed” (so that there is no white border)

 

First 4 Weeks Calendar

Always fun to see how other ministries operate. So here’s an overview of what our First 4 Weeks calendar looks like. You can download an editable Word Document here.

1st 4 weeks of class Calendar 2012 final

Fall Retreat Brochures

Here’s a post with 3 different Fall Retreat Brochure designs we’ve used.

Fall Retreat 2010 powerpoint slide

 

 

What about YOU?

Do you have any stuff your campus uses that would be helpful to share? Link to it in the comments!

cruA friend of mine recently asked a few Cru directors what they usually speak on at their first Weekly Meeting.

Love his heart for sharing/stealing resources. Seriously. No reason to reinvent the wheel.

Here are some of their responses (there’s a lot of wisdom):

 

Tim Norman (Cru National Director – Red River Region):

I typically did something that said, “Jesus is a pretty big deal. Cru is a group of people trying to figure out how He can shape our lives and dreams.” Looks like I generally spoke from Colossians 1, John 1, or Mark 1.

I generally tried to accomplish 3 things in my first few talks.

  1. Don’t keep people too long. These were the talks that I tried to be closer to 20-22 minutes.
  2. Let people know a little of “this is what we are about.” Sometimes, I started with the idea that many talk how how to survive as a Christian in college. Well, in this community you could thrive–not just survive.
  3. Shared the gospel. I was always blown away at how many people come to school contemplating a change. I remember my last fall at Northwestern that 2 of the guys that came to the first AIA meeting met with me a few days later and trusted Christ.

 

Shawn McGrath (National Director of Leadership Development – Red River Region)

I usually kept that talk as one of my shorter ones (20-25 mins) too, but here are a few things I wanted to make sure to do:

  • build trust with them by sharing my own story of struggle and life-change
  • show them we value the Word (usually taught from John 4 woman, John 20 Thomas)
  • give vision for where we are headed as a movement (evangelism and discipleship, growth)
  • share the Gospel
  • incorporate life-change stories from student leaders in the crowd- have them share if possible

 

Chris Newport (University of Texas Cru Director):

One passage I’ve used is John 4 and the woman at the well…talking about the thirst of the soul and how we are always looking at ways to satisfy this thirst, with this woman looking to men to fill that need in her life. Easy to address issues related to coming to college and trying to fit in, and showing how Jesus is what we are really looking for. Click to download it.

This fall I think I’m going to use Genesis 1 and talk about how we are made in God’s image, and that just as He is in community among the trinity, we were made for community. That part of reflecting Him is to be in close community and that we can’t experience the life were created for apart from community. Easy tie in to getting involved in Cru. Click to download it.

 

My response:

I usually bring in great speakers/pastors for the first few Cru’s. It frees me up to focus on helping our staff/leaders follow up freshmen instead of working on a talk for 12 hours/week.

What do you think? What should you talk about at your first weekly meeting?

If you have a go-to talk, share the wealth in the comments with a link.

In Cru, we talk a lot about being “Student Led, Staff Directed”.

But I fear that staff communicate to students, often more by actions than words: “We staff would love to reach this campus on our own but since we don’t have the manpower to do it, we’re gonna need some of you students to help us out.”

bleachersBud Wilkinson, legendary former head coach at OU was once asked, “what contribution does professional football make to the fitness of America?”

He answered: “A professional football game is a happening when 50,000 people desperately in need of exercise sit in the stands watching 22 people desperately needing rest”

I wonder how similar our ministries are to Bud’s description of a football game: Staff running around frantically trying to share our faith, put on weekly meetings, lead 2 Bible studies while students applaud from the sideline.

What’s at stake is more than ministry effectiveness on our campus. We are training students in the Biblical Priesthood of Believers for a lifetime of effective ministry. Is ministry just for an elite, professional class? Or is every Christian a minister/priest/ambassador?

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9

So what exactly is the role of staff in a Student Led ministry?

The Apostle Paul wrote that the role of a Christian leader is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” – Ephesians 4:12.

On our team we talk about success for our staff is to get as many students as possible onto the playing field. We want to help as many students as possible to  experience being used by God to change someone’s life.

As Steve Sellers said at the National Cru Staff Conference: “Students can do ministry. We can help.”

 

In what ways do you think we, as staff, communicate: “staff can do it, you can help”?

What are some ways your team helps students get onto the playing field?

photo courtesy of Johnny Lucus 

soularium groupSoularium is a pack of 50 pictures that Cru developed for sharing the gospel. It is an especially great tool for sharing the gospel with international students because they can communicate deeper thoughts (via pictures) then they would be able to articulate in English.

Just wanted to share a quick idea of using Soularium picture cards as an Icebreaker as your team plans for the fall.

On our first day back as a team for planning, we spend the majority of the time connecting with each other, sharing about our summers, and talking about how we feel going into the fall.

We pass out Soularium cards and have everyone pick two photos that represent their summer. Each staff then shares for 4-5 minutes about their summer using those two photos. We then ask: “What one card represents how you feel coming into the fall?” We’ve found that it facilitates better (more real) sharing. Having a photo representing their feelings someone helps – staff can share “I’m exhausted” when they might normally gloss over and put up a front.

The Soularium cards are also great for icebreakers for small group Bible studies:

  • “Which photo best describes how your week is going?”
  • “Think about your life so far. Which image best describes what you’ve experienced spiritually?”
  • “As you think about the upcoming year, which picture depicts what you want your walk with God to look at the end of the semester?”

We’ve found that the images are particularly helpful for guys to be able to articulate those mysterious things called “feelings”.

One of the greatest challenges in leading in ministry is finding the balance between planning/strategy and empowering/releasing. I don’t like messy. But I wholeheartedly believe that you have two options: You can either Control or Empower. You can’t do both. Control is orderly. Empowerment is messy.

There’s a lot of wisdom on this topic in a recent post by Jon Hietbrink:

surfingMany organizations run like machines–they thrive on alignment, order, discipline, and consistency, but movements are like organisms–they feed on change, complexity, empowerment, and freedom.

Most of the ministries we lead are some combination of both organization and movement.

I cringe at the inference that anything planned or organized is somehow less influenced by the Spirit [love this sentence!]. That said, I’m increasingly aware of our need as leaders to become experts at calibrating the edge of chaos–we’ll never catch a movement by hanging back in consistently safe places devoid of risk and adventure, but we’ll also never see exponential growth if we go boldly careening over the edge of chaos and into the abyss of confusion and disorder. How then do we navigate this tension? How do we surf the edge of chaos?

As a leader who actually tends toward order and structure, it’s been important for me to embrace the chaos as appropriate and good. If we want movement, it won’t be easy, clean, or predictable, and part of the journey for us as leaders is settling this in our souls–our tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty has to increase.

We must foster environments of interdependence where folks are not just allowed, but encouraged to seek help from any and every source. A mentor of mine used to tell me that the job of a leader is to build “webs, not wheels”– an ever-expanding web of interconnected, interdependent parts, not a wheel where all the spokes connect back to me at the center [great metaphor- webs, not wheels!].

I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

 

How are you learning to surf the edge of chaos as you lead a movement?

 

photo courtesy of chausinho

kgp-blue-grayI would love for you to join the discussion on a post I wrote on CruPressGreen:

KGP: Awkward and Outdated or Invaluable to College Ministry? Discuss

The short of it: in working with college students, is there value in using a gospel tract such as the Knowing God Personally (KGP) or a “canned approach” like The Bridge? Or, are those tools irrelevant/awkward/harmful to a post-modern, secular college student?

Mike Schatzman is on staff with Cru and has served in Eastern and Western Europe (as well as in the U.S.). I thought his comments were worth highlighting.

Great insight:

I would add that the KGP is great for post-modern folks too. I have spent 11 years doing campus ministry in post modern countries with less than 2% Christian populations. These students want to know what a Christian is. The KGP is a simple way to explain what a Christian is in a way that makes sense. I was talking with a student named Gui not too long ago. He has never been to church and never held a Bible before. He asked me how a Christian is different from a muslim, etc. We went through the KGP and opened up the Bible to Eph 2:8-9. It was his first time to read something from the Bible. He understood it. Now I didn’t ask him to pray to receive Christ – he was still an atheist. But he understood the gospel. So much so that 3 weeks later we were walking by a church and he talked about Catholics doing penance to earn forgiveness. Then he said to me, “But you don’t believe that you have to earn forgiveness by doing stuff. You believe God gives it freely through Jesus.” I am not sure that he would have gotten that if we had just done the chit-chat approach to explaining the gospel. The KGP helps people understand the gospel.

 

The last thing I would add is that I have rarely (if ever) seen someone effective in relational evangelism who was not trained, at some point in time, in initiative evangelism using the KGP, Roman Road or some other “canned approach”.

Another great reason to be doing college ministry:

canaryMillennials are the canary in the religious mine. We can ignore them…but if we do that, we lose our ability to engage future generations. We need to pay attention to the millennial concerns. Not because the church needs to be hip. But because they grew up in postmodern culture. Engaging postmodern religion through the lens of the millennials will help the church of 2020 proclaim the Gospel to a complex and confusing world.      – John W. Hawthorne

We are doing ministry on the cutting edge of culture (as I posted last week re: Tim Keller’s belief that the future leaders of the church should be trained through doing College Ministry).

We are working with college students who are natives to a rapidly changing America where Christianity is no longer a moral majority. This generation will play a significant role in leading the Church into a new era of proclaiming Christ in a increasingly complex culture. Why? Because they are in their natural habitat. They know no other America than the one we are currently living in. Not that our culture is any less “complex and confusing” for Millennials – just that they are fluent in  complexity. They don’t have to “learn a new language” – the complexity is normal to them and thus easier for them to lead in.

 

HT: @DavidRobbinsCru

photo courtesy of Michael Sonnabend

As you start the fall of college ministry, there are three big things your staff need:

  1. Connect as a family (who) – 71% of Millennials want their coworkers to be a second family
  2. Direction and clarity of role (what) – what does it look like for me/us to succeed?
  3. Vision for reaching college students (why) – “You can pretty much assume that most staff return [in the fall] willing and able but not very motivated and with little or no vision.”

feet on dock

A few helpful starting-the-fall tips for Team Leaders:

  • Encourage staff to get all personal things done before they report back. I usually email something like this:
    • “Please have all your personal stuff done before next week (moving in, raising support, prayer letter, etc) as we will be pretty slammed starting Aug. 8 (so take advantage of the next few days to get all personal stuff done!)”
  • I highly recommend reading this short article – Orienting Your Team
  • Pick staff to fill two key roles: First Week Director and Follow Up Director. This frees the Team Leader to focus on the team/movement instead of the millions of details associated with the First 4 Weeks.
  • Don’t assume that everyone is on the same page as far as Ministry Philosophy. Communicate clearly on how we do things. We have a one page sheet called “How we do Ministry – One Page” which, as you would expect, tells our entire philosophy of ministry on one page!
  • Discuss Team Norms together (how we operate as a team)

 

I think it’s always interesting to see how other teams operate.

Here’s what our planning week looks like:

  • 2 days of planning 9-noon. Afternoons spent working on reserving locations, getting donations from local businesses (for door prizes for cookouts), working in smaller groups with other staff on specific tasks
  • 3 days on a staff retreat (all fun/no work)
  • 2 more days planning 9-noon. Afternoons working on team to-do’s.
  • 2 night student leadership retreat
  • First Cookout and Move in Week activities

Team Leaders- what do you do with your team before the school year begins?

Staff – what are your primary needs going into the year?

 

photo courtesy of  Yasin Hassan – ياسين حسن