Archives For January 2015

What’s stopping a flood of laborers from being sent out from college campuses?

Overwhelmingly, there are two barriers holding college students from being sent into full time ministry:

  1. Parents
  2. Money

The last post addressed Parents. This post will deal with half of the money issue – how support raising prevents graduates from being sent. The next post will deal with how educational debt chokes sending (is it OK if I cheat a little and split money into two posts??).

If the world’s greatest need is laborers, one of the biggest obstacles is raising support. There are tens of thousands of college grads who want to do full time ministry but, upon learning that you have to raise support, bail out.


So what we can do about it?

  • In general, the main issue to press is – “if the cause is worthy, the cost is irrelevant”.
  • Staff need to model what a life on full time support looks like.
    • Have students in your home. To see how you live. To see your family. To visualize what their life can look like.
    • Students need to see this is a viable career option. You can provide for a family on staff. You can save for retirement. You can give generously (that’s one reason we always encourage students to send us support letters for Summer Missions).
    • Staff need to watch how they talk about support. Do we always complain about it? Are we cheap and always using poor talk? (see more in Ali Enos’ excellent CruPressGreen post: Poor Language Could Be Costing Us Laborers)
  • Teach the principles of living a simple and modest lifestyle. Whether you go into full time ministry or not you should live simply and give generously because it’s God’s money, not yours. Take a discipleship appointment and listen to and discuss Roger Hershey’s phenomenal talk on the subject.
  • Make it clear that we provide incredible training and coaching on how to raise support. In our region with Cru, the success rate for interns getting fully supported is nearly 100% (for those who work at it full time). We can fairly confidently say – if you work at it, God will provide 100% of your support.
  • Share with students stories of God providing financially.
  • Walk through a Biblical basis for support raising. I’ve unpacked some of that here: Jesus Was Supported by Others – Will You Follow?
    • Students need to see that support raising is not begging for money, mooching off others, wasting their degree. They need to see that they may believe more in the American dream than the Bible.
  • Students need to see that brilliant men and women, who literally could have made millions in the marketplace, have foregone earthly riches in order to serve Christ (following in the footsteps of Moses and other greats of the faith). We need the best and the brightest, not those who can’t find viable work elsewhere. They need to hear (true!) stories of other grads leaving six figure starting salaries and $50k signing bonuses on the table in order to go into full time ministry. My discipler in college had chosen staff on Cru – he held degrees in economics and mechanical engineering from Rice University. He could easily start with a six figure salary. That inspired me. It emboldened me. It let me see that full time ministry is a great investment of incredible talent and brains. We have the greatest cause in the world and we need the brightest minds in the world to give their lives to fulfilling the Great Commission.
  • Spend a discipleship time listening to a talk Steve Shadrach’s talk at Urbana on 5 Essential Keys to Fully Fund Your Ministry. It has great vision and practical insights on raising support.
Some helpful links:

What are ways you have helped students move past the obstacle of support raising?


photo courtesy of Tax Credits

It’s been estimated that 3 out of 4 laborers come straight from the college campus. The next generation of pastors and missionaries will come from college ministries. Lord willing, these laborers will see the Great Commission fulfilled.

So what’s stopping this flood of laborers from being sent out from college campuses?

Overwhelmingly, there are two barriers holding college students from being sent into full time ministry:

  1. Parents
  2. Money (student loan debt and fear related to raising financial support)

In the next two posts we’ll discuss money – student loan debt and support raising.

This post will focus on parents.


“The possibility that Christian parents are the number one hindrance to world evangelization is truer than we would like to admit.”

Dr. Todd Ahrend in the book “In This Generation” 

Over 100 years ago, John Mott led the greatest missionary mobilization the world has ever seen – the Student Volunteer Movement.

John Mott considered parents to be the primary obstacle standing in the way of missions mobilization:

’If God permit,’ not if my parents permit. There are very few of us whose parents do permit; they rather must submit. I was talking to a young man less than a week ago, and he said, ‘The moment that I speak of going as a foreign missionary it seems to me that a thousand chords are pulling me back….my parents begin to plead with me; my friends begin to plead with me.’ It is not if man permit; it is if God permit.

100 years ago, what was the parents’ chief concern? They had worked hard to send their son or daughter to college and going into full time ministry was seen as a waste of a valuable college degree. Sound familiar?

It somewhat comforting to know that this is not a new obstacle.

“If we seek for excuses to stay at home we can find plenty of them” Robert Wilder, 1898

There’s a VERY helpful article on Desiring God about how parents are the Biggest Barrier to Students Going to the Mission Field.

The article is written by a parent, Kim Ransleben, and she explains parents’ legitimate concerns:

We haven’t been with them much of the time while they’re in college, and the truth is, many of us don’t hear a lot from them while they’re gone. If they’ve grown, parents don’t necessarily hear about it. Add to that, most of us had to work hard and pay a lot of money for them to get their degree. Even if unconsciously, many parents are expecting some sort of return on that costly investment.

Then there’s the impression we get from their lives on social media . . . a lot of coffee pics, sports, and of course, selfies. And now all of a sudden, they have a passion for the unreached? Yes, some parents are skeptical, and some for good reason. How do we know our kids don’t just want to delay getting a job for a few more years?

Here’s why parents’ disapproval is crippling to today’s students.

Millennials value their parents’ opinion above anyone else. Past generations experienced growing separation of parents and kids over the teen years and into college. But the majority of millennials remain very close to their parents. The term “helicopter parent” has been widely used to describe their parents’ close involvement.

89% of Millennials receive advice from their parents, 77% on a regular basis. And 87% view their parents as a positive source of influence. Parents are more influential to Millennials than their friends. In fact, “there is nothing more important to Millennials than family” (source). 52% of emerging adults contact their parents every day or almost every day!

Heavy parental involvement is not unique to our students in college ministry. recently reported on its effects on the workplace:

Millennials’ reliance on and close contact with their parents continued even through their teen years — ages when prior generations experienced far greater intergenerational tension. Today’s young adults see the process of seeking advice from their parents as a logical, well-considered opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of trusted advisors. As millennials have entered the workplace, they continue to turn to their parents for guidance.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some Millennials are bringing their parents to job interviews. They report on how some companies are adapting to very engaged parents:

Northwestern Mutual “does everything it can to accommodate the parents of college-aged interns, including regularly inviting them to the office for open houses and some managers call or send notes to parents when interns achieve their sales goals” One intern remarked, “My parents were unsure at first, but seeing the office firsthand allowed them to be that much more confident with the company.”

Companies like Google and LinkedIn have started having an annual “Take Your Parents to Work Day.”

This is the new normal of super-engaged parents and students who really value their opinion.

So when parents are opposed to students going into full time ministry, it is no small obstacle. It is devastating to students.

So what we can do about it?

    • Communicate to students that ultimately it is not the parents’ decision but a personal decision to serve God in full time ministry.  “We must deal delicately and humbly with those who love us the most; boldly pursuing His desires above all else.” Dr Todd Ahrend
    • Realize that God can use obstacles for His glory. Where parents are resistant or completely opposed to their kids going (whether on a Summer Mission or into full time ministry), in most cases I’ve seen God uses the conflict and step of faith (by the student) to radically transform both the student AND parents. This story from Ali Enos (Cru staff at LSU) is very typical of what we see happen with parents:
      • I still remember the day when I was an LSU student trying to explain to my parents why I wanted to go on a summer project with Campus Crusade for Christ—my mom thought I was involved in a cult!
      • My parent’s skepticism about summer project was only an appetizer compared to the questions and concern that came when I shared with them a few years later that I wanted to go to work with Campus Crusade for Christ full time after I graduated from LSU.
      • Now, 10 years later, my parents could not be more proud of me. They have both begun personal relationships with Christ and love what I do.  (there’s a great video of Ali’s parents sharing their journey and doubts – great to use with student’s parents who are resistant.)
    • We need to help students learn to communicate with their parents about the life change they’ve experienced. Students go home to family and friends that don’t get why they’ve changed or why they are living for Christ.
      • Do a weekly meeting talk teaching students how to communicate their life change with their parents (especially before Christmas or Summer break).
      • Do a discipleship lesson on what it looks like to “honor your father and mother” while following God’s will of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth
        • “The way to Biblically heed both of these commands simultaneously is to listen to parents’ advice, speak with them in an honorable way, but still follow God’s will over our parents’ will when the two are in contradiction.” Dr. Todd Ahrend
        • “It is true that God wants us to honor our parents and love our friends, but He has also made it clear in His Word that this honor and love must not exceed our love and obedience to Him and His calling on our lives. We should always try our best to explain God’s call to our families, lovingly and patiently, but the bottom line must be that we will obey Christ no matter what the cost (Mark 10:29). – Keith Green
      • Coach potential STINT’ers and Interns to be prepared to talk with their parents:
        • Expect your parents to have a lot of questions (whether it is a Summer Mission or internship or long term staff).
        • Your parents’ questions/grilling are a genuine expression of love and concern.
        • Do your homework and anticipate what questions they might have:
          • Will you have insurance?
          • How much money will you make? Can you live on THAT?!
          • How will you possibly raise all that support?! (“Cru offers extensive support raising training that is the best in the world…”)
      • Encourage students to keep their parents updated on their spiritual growth.
        • Kim Ransleben gives 5 really good tips on dealing with parents that are all worth reading, but her first is a brilliant insight I hadn’t thought of before: Let your parents in on the journey early and often.

Your desire to serve overseas shouldn’t be spontaneously announced like you do when you’ve decided to drive to the playoff game or change your hair color. Your parents don’t want to suddenly hear, “Mom, Dad, when I graduate I’m moving to Cambodia.” Share the journey as you walk through it, even in the earliest stages.

If you read a blog post that impacts your perspective on global missions, send it to your dad with a note about why you loved it. If you hear a sermon that stirs you, send your parents a link and tell them about it. Don’t worry about their lack of response to it. This isn’t about convincing them. It’s just showing them what you see. When you come to them about what you want to do, it should not be a surprise but simply the next step in all God has been doing in you.

And what if they’re unbelievers? Share it all anyway.

  • Invite parents into your ministry. If the parents see your ministry for themselves they are WAY more likely to let their kids go to Winter Conference, or on a Summer Mission, and even work in full time ministry.
    • Have every student leader invite their parents to your Fellowship Dinner. It’s always nice if they give, but the MUCH bigger win is them seeing what their kid is involved with. We’ve found that even non-Christian parents really appreciate Cru after they come to our dinner.
    • Florida Cru has had a Parents Weekend – They move their weekly meeting to a Friday night (on a big home game in the fall) and ask their students to invite their parents to come to the weekly meeting on Friday night. They then have a Giving Brunch the next morning. 70-100 families attend (and give a lot of money!).
  • Develop a way to communicate with parents. The easiest way would be to have a page for parents on your website. The Traveling Team has a great page of parent testimonies.


Some Helpful Resources:


How have you helped students talk with their parents about going on summer missions or into full time ministry? Students, what has been helpful for you in talking to your parents?


photo courtesy of Petras Gagilas

The World’s Greatest Need

January 26, 2015 — 2 Comments

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38

What is the world’s greatest need? The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But what did Jesus say? The Harvest is plentiful…but what? The bottleneck is not that people won’t listen and accept the gospel.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?” Romans 10:14-15


The world’s greatest need is for laborers.

If you were to ask any missionary what is the most needed resource to fulfill the great commission and take the gospel to the world their answer, almost unanimously, would be: people. The greatest need in the expansion of the gospel is for laborers.

From where will the next generation of Christian workers, pastors, and missionaries come? From college campuses will come the generation of laborers who will see the Great Commission fulfilled.

For this reason the role of Campus Staff in raising up Christian workers is arguably the most influential in all of Christian ministry. In fact many Cru staff desiring to serve internationally have remained on U.S. campuses knowing that every year they remain they will multiply themselves many times over in laborers for the spiritual harvest.

The strategic nature of campus ministry is that you are not simply reaching a campus with the gospel, but raising up the next generation of Christian leaders who will take the gospel, and serve Christ, all over the world.  It is a ministry where your influence for Christ is multiplied 20, 30, even 500 fold.

No one thought up the strategy of fulfilling the Great Commission by reaching the college campus. Campus ministry is the result of the observation that God has chosen to use the university and college students as His primary vehicle in accelerating the evangelism of the world. To be involved in campus ministry is to be involved in God’s primary missions strategy.

written by Rick James (you should go read the entire article – The Historic Role of Young People in God’s Global Plans)


In the coming weeks, I want to focus on Sending. Specifically: how can we send more college students into full time ministry? In Cru we talk a lot about 100% Sent. We want every student to graduate on mission- whether they are missionaries in the corporate world, as teachers, or in full time Christian work in Asia. But the majority of my focus will be on sending into full time ministry.


Some topics I plan to cover:

  • What are the Top 2 Barriers to Sending?
  • Learning from the Top Sending Campuses. In Cru, 42% of the laborers come from just 26 campuses (just 5% of the Cru movements). What are these campuses doing that we can learn from?
  • What are the main factors that influence students to want to join us in full time ministry?
  • What are Millennials looking for as they look for employment?
  • What are some resources we can use to better send?


I’d love your help!

What are the best resources/ideas/quotes/articles you’ve found on Sending?


In the last post I looked at the value of conferences for the development of our staff – as an opportunity to get to know other leaders and grow our network of advisors.

In our organization (Cru) most staff love staff conferences, but there’s definitely seasons where staff get conferenced out. On top of our staff conferences, we typically have 4-5 student conferences that we put on every year (August Leadership Retreat, Fall Retreat, Winter Conference, January Leadership Retreat, Spring Break trip/conference).

It seems that a lack of enthusiasm for staff conferences comes from three sources:

  1. They take us off campus
  2. We have to pay for them
  3. They’re mandatory

Here’s some ideas on how we can look at each of these and make conferences better for our staff.

They take us off campus

  • This, for me, is the biggest cost of conferences.
  • In moderation, I think conferences are a great investment (see previous post). But we’ve had seasons where our staff are off campus every other week all spring for various regional conferences. And it kills our momentum in our ministry to college students. Conferences were made for staff, not staff for conferences.
  • Particularly for more isolated campuses (I live in Northwest Arkansas) travel to and from any conference costs me two days. That’s before we even get to the conference.
  • We need higher-up leaders to help protect the local level from unnecessary conferences. Because the reality is there’s often not communication between the different regional/national leaders as to how many conferences we are asking our staff to go to. Someone needs to step up and say, do we really need this conference? Could we accomplish this objective in another, less costly way?
  • Maybe they do this already, but maybe regional leadership could keep a 12-month view of a typical staff’s year, a typical Team Leader’s year, a typical intern’s year, and think through how often they’re off campus.

We have to pay for them

  • To be blunt, that’s why you raise support. To be able to develop as a minister of the gospel. Not to be cheap. You can be bitter about having to pay for all those conferences. But your life in full time ministry will be FAR more enjoyable if you just suck it up raise enough support to account for conferences.
  • BUT, Team leaders – consider investing financially in your staff’s conferences. It communicates “We believe in you, and think you’re a great investment! We want to invest in your training give you time to pull away and sharpen your saw.” For our region’s Field Training in February we’re investing $200 in each of our staff. Hopefully they feel the love and see the week as an opportunity rather than an obligation.

They’re mandatory

  • I wonder if we should make more conferences optional. It would definitely affect how people come into the conferences (begrudgingly or eager to learn). I understand that there are some conferences we need everyone at. But there are some that we don’t.
  • The danger in mandatory conferences is a lack of excellence and making them worth it. If we made some conferences optional, it would force us to make them worth it – to make them useful enough that staff would pay to be there! It’s what we do on the local level – every conference is “optional” for students so we work our tails off to 1) make them excellent and 2) convince students of the benefit of the conference for their growth. Consequently, every year our student conferences are greatly improving. Because the free market forces us to innovate and improve.
  • It’d be great if we could integrate our conferences with the New Staff Development (NSD) that interns and staff already have to complete. If by going to the Sent Conference, that is required for all Interns, they could have checked off a complete module of development (because really, that’s better content/development than the 8-12 hours of official NSD they would be doing, and the same amount of time). That might help interns/staff see how a conference is moving them forward, helping them progress in their development.
  • We should heed this wisdom from Brian Virtue: “Eliminate any of them that can even remotely have their objectives met in an online context or distance format.  If you can do it without forcing people to travel and spend time away from their family and context, then you should.  If you’re doing it because it’s always been done or because it’s a source of income then you’re behind the times and contributing to oppression by conference.” (it would be worth reading all of Brian’s thoughts on conferences here).


What are your thoughts? How can we improve how we do staff conferences?


Cru staff sometimes joke about us being Campus Crusade for Conferences (OK, I may have been that guy), like this tongue-in-cheek tweet:
crurumor conferences
But this is great vision for the value of staff conferences:
One of the biggest examples of investing for the long run for the knowledge worker is attending conferences. I believe that all knowledge workers should go to every conference they can because these are prime opportunities to connect with people and share ideas — the essence of knowledge work. But many think that going to a conference is a luxury or a bonus, something to do only if you can get your other, “real” work done. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Going to conferences is a key part of the work of any leader and manager. It is one of the many intangibles that define the essence of knowledge work in our day.
Matt Perman in his book What’s Best Next
I’m not saying sign up for every conference you can go to. Mostly, take advantage of the conferences you HAVE to go to!


For me, it’s not the content of the conference. I have been tremendously impacted by the people I’ve met at conferences. They have formed my loose-knit, non-official network of advisors. Quick conversations at conferences have opened up to me a wealth of wisdom and college-ministry-know-how. Both the content learned in those conference interactions and the open doors for future phone calls and emails to learn over the years.


Big, generic leadership conferences like Catalyst have not been as helpful as targeted college ministry conferences (in Cru, it’s our regional and national staff conferences; and our Team Leader conferences). Again, because what is beneficial is not the content (which was great at Catalyst) but the conversations and meeting other college ministry leaders.


My boss (Tim Norman – Cru National Director for the Red River Region) shared with me a conversation he recently had with a UT professor who is an expert in leadership:
“I told him about one of the challenges of leading in a non profit is not being able to reward people–there are no bonuses for a job well done. One of the things he suggested was investing in the training of your people.”


Our region is having a week long “Field Training” in February for many of our staff. What if, instead of bemoaning having to be off campus for a week, staff saw that week as an investment in their professional development and expanding their network of advisors?

This is great Biblical insight from Tim Norman (that he recently shared as the Missional Team Leaders (MTL’s) prepared to pull off campus for a conference:

Paul makes a passing comment in 2 Cor 2:12-13 that has intrigued me over the last 4-5 years. He writes “Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on toMacedonia.” When Paul arrived in Troas to gospelize the area; the Lord opened up a door for him—a door of evangelistic fruit. Yet, Paul pulled away from a fruitful ministry, which is something I would have never imagined him doing. But, he expressed concern for his fellow laborer, Titus, and he wanted to know what the Lord was doing in the Corinthian church (this was the message that Titus was to give to Paul). This is one of the many passages that highlights that Paul was so networked into a first-century gospel network. Paul was plugged in to connections that went beyond himself and his concerns were beyond what stood in his face. He valued hearing from those who co-worked the gospelization of the world with him and wanted to hear the news of what the Lord was doing whether good or bad, whether prayer-letter worthy or something we’d all just as soon forget.

One of the aims of the upcoming MTL conference is that the Lord would use it to refresh you and create a place where you can be with fellow laborers, who like you have been making themselves ‘slaves to all so that you might win some.’ Some of us have seen great fruit this Fall. Some of us have experienced a difficult and puzzling Fall. We trust that this time will give you a chance to hear from your friends about what God is doing, to share our joys and our struggles. Across the region you’ve been leading staff and students to trust Jesus more and to encourage them to take steps of faith that they would have never imagined. That’s hard work. We trust that our time will refresh you in the midst of your labor, which is not in vain.

In the next post I want to look at three reasons why there is a lack of enthusiasm for staff conferences – time, money, and mandatory – and what we can do about it.

50 Dollar Party

January 21, 2015 — 1 Comment
This spring we’re giving each of our Community Groups a $50 bill to use to throw a party (an idea we stole from some other Cru movement – can’t remember who!)


We encouraged our leaders to take the $50 to their group and allow the group members to help decide how to invest the $50. It’s a fun, tangible expression of “we want our Community Group to be on mission to reach this campus.” The hope is that it will challenge freshmen to step up and take ownership of the party and catch a vision for God using them to reach their dorm. 


All we asked is:
  • This is not $50 to throw a party just for your group – it should be held in the dorm that your group is connected with (or with the segment on campus, like a party you are inviting all civil engineers to) and it needs to be outward focused.
  • Take a picture of your outreach party and tag us on Instagram, post on the Facebook leadership page, etc.
What are some creative ways you have resourced students to live on mission?


photo courtesy of tenaciousme

Cru was started in 1951 on the UCLA campus by Bill and Vonette Bright. In 1951, UCLA was 98% white.

Here’s what UCLA looks like today:

  • 34% asian
  • 27% white
  • 19% hispanic
  • 13% international student
Several states have already reached a majority minority status on the college campus. In California, “Latinos account for 29% of the Californians admitted for this fall’s freshman class, topping the 27% share of whites. Both trail the 36% share for Asians.” (source)

The entire U.S. college population is predicted, by some, to be majority minority by 2020.

arkansas guys
photo credit: Erik Walther – Arkansas Cru staff


This is some great vision from Sam Osterloh, Cru’s Executive Director of Ethnic Field Ministry.

In 1951 when Bill Bright spoke of the teeming numbers of college students that would change  the world, there were less than 4 million total in the U.S., and only about 1% were ethnic minority. Today, there are almost 4 million students in the Pacific Southwest alone, 21 million total in the U.S., and the diversity of the college campus is very near the point where half of all students are ethnic minority. The collegiate landscape has changed dramatically.

Yet, it is among this group that we might find those who are most open to the gospel. Consider that in 1951 majority Anglo culture was largely characterized as familial and having a religious foundation. When Cru flashed on the scene and the simple gospel message was shared, large numbers of students and faculty were ready to respond to the invitation of a personal relationship with Jesus. Today, in the majority culture we find an audience that is not as it was in the 50’s and 60’s, certainly with less of a religious base or foundation. However, in most ethnic audiences, generally, we find a reality that is more like the landscape of past generations with a familial context and with something more of a religious foundation. It would seem, that among ethnic minority students and faculty the possibility for spiritual awakening is latent and ripe. Jake Tarr describes this potential awakening as a windfall, where the wind of the Spirit sweeps across an orchard ripe with fruit and the fruit simply falls from the trees.

Nationwide in Cru, 1 in 27 gospel presentations result in someone trusting Christ. For Destino (a Cru ministry dedicated to raising up leaders from the Latino and Hispanic community), that number is 1 in 7 (read more in the CruPressGreen article – Destino Statistics Challenge).


What is your team doing to reach ethnic minority students?


There are more international students on U.S. college campuses than ever before – nearly DOUBLE the number just 20 years ago.

Below are two fascinating snapshots that capture the incredible influx of international students on college campuses:

  • IIE’s annual Open Door report on international students
  •‘s map of place of origin of international students (taken from IIE data)

The greatest increase in international students is from Saudi Arabia:

  • There are 25 times more Saudi students in the U.S. today than just ten years ago.
  • The vast majority of the Saudi students are on full scholarship through the King Abdullah Scholarship Program. The King of Saudi Arabia has invested over $5 billion in sending Saudi students to the U.S. It’s more-than-all-expenses-paid: books, tuition, housing, full medical coverage, a monthly stipend direct deposited into their bank account, free annual flight for their families to come over to visit.
  • There’s never been a scholarship like this in the history of the world.
  • The IIE reports there are 54,000 Saudi students studying in the U.S. but others report far higher numbers – over 100,000 Saudi students studying in the U.S. (including the official scholarship website).
  • The stated purpose of the foreign study program is for Saudi students “to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees and return home to help run their country”. They are told: “You are the best of the best, and the future of our country.”
  • Many are in English programs and they’re encouraged to connect w Americans so they can learn English and understand our culture.
  • But in 2020 the scholarships come to a halt (reportedly, Saudi Arabia will have built its own world class universities by then and will no longer send its best and brightest to the U.S.).
  • You can read more in the WSJ and Los Angeles Times.

origin of international students