Top Sending Campuses – Missouri State

February 18, 2015 — 2 Comments

missouri state

This is part of a series on Learning from the Top Sending Campuses in Cru.

See the intro for a full list of all the campuses profiled (and links to each).

Quick facts on Missouri State Cru:

  • # on staff team – 16 at staff meeting (two of those are part time staff; 8 interns)
  • Avg Cru meeting size = 380-400; first cru= 400 (our venue maxes out at 400)
  • How many in Community Groups = 250-300 avg
  • 190 on fall retreat (112 previous year)
  • Students at Missouri State – 20,000 (5,000 Freshmen) – we also draw from a private school of 2,500

Sending Stats for an average year:

  • 6-10 STINT and interns
  • 4-6 staff/year
  • Around 30 on Summer Missions (praying for 50 this year; 35 accepted so far; 10 more have submitted)
    • 1/4 overseas; 3/4 stateside  (San Diego and Alaska)
  • Partnership – East Asia and Côte d’Ivoire (being primary)


Cru has been at Missouri State since fall 2011. Justin Stringer is the MTL (Missional Team Leader) at Missouri State. He was previously on staff at St Louis from 2008-2011. The reason he moved to Missouri State:

“I thought this could be a place that God could use to send all over our region and the world. The reason we came down was purely for sending.”

Why did you think Missouri State could be a sending campus?

  • On a practical level – a lot of students here are in the kinds of majors that could easily join into staff life – social work, teachers, nursing
  • Students generally have low student debt
  • Not a lot of our students are doing summer internships, a lot of them are doing victory laps (5th year)
  • Theological level – there’s a culture of Christianity that if you catch it on fire – you light the match that there’s this big vision you can be a part of
    • It’s related to the Christianity that I’ve grown up with but far more exciting
    • “You can be a part of the big story of God changing the world”

How did you become a sending campus?

  • There’s no silver bullet
  • I tell our staff team that if each of them has the best year of ministry that they have ever had this year then we will have no problem recruiting to our team.
  • That being said, the Lord has really blessed a few things:
  • Kate and I as MTLs have really owned sending basically all year long
    • We’re thinking about who we’d love to have on our team in September
      • We make a big board as a staff team of who we want to invite to join our team as interns
      • Then, we begin praying
    • We’re talking to people at Fall Retreat
    • Revisiting those conversations before Beyond (our sending conf in November)
    • Revisiting those conversations at Winter Conference
    • Then again in the spring
    • From the beginning it’s been a year round thing
  • We try to make the intern year a big long vision-casting thing of what it would look like to be on staff
    • We say to our staff – if our interns have the best year of ministry of their lives, we will have no problem recruiting them to join us on staff
    • We give our interns a lot of real responsibility
    • Kate and I try to make sure that every staff and intern has at least one big ministry win each semester that we can celebrate.
      • This isn’t formal but something that Kate and I are looking out for.
      • They can look back and say: “God really moved here”
      • Overseeing the Maze (an outreach)
      • Fall Getaway director (intern who really likes putting on meetings)
      • One girl who is really gifted in evangelism – we really freed her to spend time sharing her faith
  • Part of what we’ve said from the beginning – internship isn’t just for people who want to go into vocational ministry
    • If you want to live on mission for the rest of your life, an internship is the best training opportunity that I know of that you can be a part of
    • It will equip you to make an impact for a lifetime no matter where you end up
  • Staff Care
    • I hear about staff care a lot In terms of having a team bible study
    • The way I care for my staff is to challenge them to do something big
    • I take some things off their plates (that I don’t really like doing) to free them up to engage in ministry relationships:
      • Menial drudgery stuff
      • Inputting scholarships
    • I definitely don’t take all of that stuff
    • But I take some of those admin jobs so staff can make as big of an impact as possible in relationships
    • Main difference between a staff person and an intern:
      • Most of our staff operate like MTL’s
      • So they end up doing admin stuff in their specific areas
        • AIA
        • Greek

Do students ever feel over recruited?

  • Sometimes, but that’s not typical.
  • “We want you to do what God wants you to do. We’re not going to be mad if you end up a teacher. Based on your gift set and what we know about you, I think you’d be really good fit on our team.”
  • It becomes “recruiting” when you say things that aren’t true or you start playing God
  • I love my job so I feel like I wouldn’t be loving people if I didn’t invite them to be a part of something that is a lot of fun and God could really use to change their lives
  • We also try to verbalize how much we like our job and how we are impacting the world through Southwest Missouri.
  • I’ve had to get over the feeling that I’m “recruiting”. They’re always being recruited. Companies are tirelessly recruiting them to come work for them.

What advice do you have for a campus that wants to grow from not much sending to being a sending campus?

  • I would work long and hard at connecting everything you’re doing to a big vision that is compelling
  • Everyone wants to be a part of something that is big and compelling
  • As the MTL, you need to communicate that vision
    • Weekly meetings
    • Leadership times
    • Everytime I talk, I’m trying to say something about how what we’re doing is impacting:
      • The rest of your lives
      • The world
    • I can mess up a lot of things, but if I’m communicating the vision we’ll be ok
    • What vision do you cast?
      • The global scope – this could impact the world
      • The people who graduate here will impact people all over our state and all over the world
      • This will impact the rest of your life
        • How you lead small groups
        • How you share your faith in your dorms, you will be doing that the rest of your life in your job
  • I would encourage staff to remember why they love their job
    • We have a sweet gig
    • It’s such an honor to be a part of what God is doing
    • If you’re living in the “woe is me, I had to raise support and I’m suffering for the gospel”, that’s not compelling
    • Do you genuinely enjoy being a part of God using
  • I had to learn as an MTL: My words carry a lot of weight
    • I’m looking people in the eye and I’m saying: “I’d really like you to be on our team”
    • I have to put on my big boy pants
    • That headhunter for the engineering firm is doing it. He’s putting on his big boy pants to look students in the eye and ask them to come work for him.

How did you get good at casting vision? Does it just come naturally?

  • No – Dan Allan just hammered it in over and over
  • I make sure there’s a vision component to everything I say – even staff meeting
    • We have a partnership prayer minute in our staff meeting every week
      • We pray for a campus in our partnership locations every week in staff meeting
      • Before we pray for it, I cast vision for why it’s so critical to reach Côte d’Ivoire
        • It’s the buffer point between Muslim north Africa and southern Christian Africa
        • So if we can reach college students there, they can impact all of Africa
        • It’s so exciting that we get to be a part of that
  • It’s almost become a worshipful thing for me
    • I’m more of a cynical guy – if I’m not casting vision I’m probably being cynical

What motivates students to intern?

  • They want to be a part of something big and exciting
  • They want to do it next to people they like and respect
    • As a student, I knew the guys sitting in the circle and I wanted my life to be next to their lives
  • Having a place where they know they will grow
  • Ministry isn’t to get things done primarily
  • Ministry is to get people done, starting with us
  • So ministry is bi-directional – God impacts us while he uses us.
  • If someone has been in our movement for a while, and they’ve taken steps of faith, we’ll challenge them

What are your big takeaways from Missouri State Cru? What was most helpful? What clarifying questions do you have?



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