Archives For May 2015

The Top Sending CampusesThis is the part 4 in a series of posts summarizing key findings from researching 17 of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses in the nation.

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

In talking to these 17 Top Sending Schools, I’d ask “What makes students want to go into full time ministry?”

Here are the:

10 Things That Make Students Want to Go into Full Time Ministry:

  • Somebody asked them to do it and convinced them they could do it
    • “A lot of students just lack confidence that they’d be any good at it”
    • “We’d love it if you’d join our team! Are you praying about staff/internship?” – Miami
    • “And a lot of the time, that’s all they need”
    • It is especially meaningful coming from the MTL (Missional Team Leader)
      • “As an MTL, you have a lot of persuasion.”
      • “When the boss says, “I’d love to work with you”, it means a lot”
      • “There’s something very honoring about being asked by the guy/girl in charge”
  • They see other students do it and grow tremendously
      • “Having a place where they know they will grow. Ministry is bi-directional – God impacts us while he uses us.”
      • “When they see their friends do it, and it makes them think they can do it”
      • “They’ve seen interns grow tremendously over the past few years (and it’s attractive)”

 

  • Doing ministry with friends
    • “Everyone was going – everyone came back changed from Summer Missions and STINT. It was big that we did it together as a big group. I’m going to go so we can experience change together and come back and impact the campus together. A lot of people went on STINT to East Asia that didn’t particularly have a heart for Asia, but they wanted to go with community and do it as a team.”

 

  • They respect and enjoy the staff team
    • “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”
    • “They know they’ll be loved well and cared for on our staff team”
  • They’ve been deeply impacted by staff
    • “Usually when they’re joining us, it’s been because they’ve been deeply impacted by someone on staff.”
    • “Most students join staff because of a relationship with a staff person – they’ve been really deeply, personally invested in. I think people do care about the mission, but I think they care about it because of their close connection with staff.”
  • In college they got to really experience being used by God to change others’ lives
    • “Generally, students who will labor for a lifetime have to be taking steps of faith and sharing their faith and making significant investments into the lives of others (not just leading a small little Bible study)”
    • They led someone to Christ in college, they discipled students
    • “They experienced that they really are God’s plan A to reach the world. They get to see God use them”
  • They went on Summer Mission
    • 75% or higher – the percentage of Interns, STINTers, and New staff who have previously participated in a Summer Mission (an educated guess by a few informed leaders in Cru)
  • They became a Christian in college
    • Students who came to Christ in college are much more likely to consider doing full time ministry when they graduate
    • Chalk it up to: “he who is forgiven much, loves much.”
  • They want to be a part of something big and exciting
    • “This mission is worthy of your life.”
    • “At the end of time when the great book of the history of the spread of the gospel of Christ is written, I think an entire chapter will be devoted to what God did among college students on our campus. Do you want to be a part of that?”
    • “You can be a part of the big story of God changing the world”
    • “Come help change the world”
  • Realizing 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”
    • “A good question: How and when will I get the needed training to have an effective ministry for a lifetime? If you think you can be more effective (long-range) in secular work, consider taking a couple years in full time ministry to get the training needed.”

The-Top-Sending-Campuses

This is the part 3 in a series of posts summarizing key findings from researching 17 of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses in the nation.

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

In talking to these top sending schools, I’d ask “How did you become a sending campus?”

Over and over I heard: “It’s who we are.” “Sending is what our movement is about – we’re about mission.” “It’s just in the air of our movement that students breathe.”

My question for all of them: “OK, that’s great for y’all but what advice do you have for a campus that doesn’t have that culture? What would you tell a campus who wants to grow from not much sending to being a sending campus?”

The answers can be grouped into:

Three Steps to Move from Not Much Sending to Being a Sending Campus

  • Cast Vision to Create a Sending Culture (It starts with Staff)

    • “As staff, we are cultural architects – creating a culture that loves and embraces the mission of sharing Jesus with people. And here’s an opportunity to do that full time.” – SLO
    • “Be a visionary for what we are doing. And then ask students to join you in doing it full time. Hopefully the response is, ‘yeah, why would I not want to be a part of that?’ – SLO
    • “Regularly use illustrations from your time overseas in talks and devotionals. Share stories often at staff team meetings and small groups”
    • “In Madison, when we talk about sending we don’t talk about just filling slots. We talk about changing the culture of our movement to care about the world. “We are Badgers. We go.” “Badgers Go.” It has become our culture not just the heart of a few people or just the staff. It takes time to build this into your movement but it can really change fast if the right students catch the vision.” – Wisconsin
    • “You are changing the culture of your movement not just getting people to sign up. This will take time, intentionality and prayer.”
    • “Don’t lose sight of the goal: we do what we do in the US to fulfill the great commission. Keep the world as the goal in front of your team and students all the time.”
    • Ohio State:
      • Our movements always reflect our leaders’ passions
      • The movement is always going to reflect the strength of the staff team
      • If I’m asking how do I change the movement, I need to ask, what do I need to change?
      • I need to ask – how passionate am I about it? What am I teaching? What am I talking about? Am I living this out? Are we highlighting it?
    • A&M:
      • “As the leader, as the mouthpiece, you need to be telling the stories and leading from experience. Our family goes every third year on international Summer Missions. Your wife has to be in it too. Because a lot of the work will fall on her (getting the kids overseas on Summer Missions).”
  • Normalize Going – Pray for and challenge a foundational sending class

    • “It needs to go from something only special people do to a normal option. This is a normal consideration for every Christian” – Miami
    • “Once it happens it becomes a norm and they see other students do it and they want to do it – OK State
    • “Pray for and challenge 4-8 graduates to go together. Once you do this the ball will start rolling down hill and future generations will want to do the same thing. Plant these seeds with your current freshman class. ‘where will you guys go together after you graduate?’”
    • “You need a couple really key students to buy in. Challenge the right students to really consider it and pray about it.”
    • Our best/fullest STINT teams all had the same scenario: a student committed to STINT early (Junior year or the summer before their Senior year) and they spent the entire year raising up a STINT team around themselves
    • Challenge students the spring of their junior year – Virginia Tech
      • We used to do most of our recruiting during student’s senior years. But we kept finding that we were too late. Students had already accepted jobs.
      • At Virginia Tech we have a lot of engineering students who have lots of (high paying!) options after college
      • For most of our students, the summer after the junior year internship is the job interview. So they decide by October 1 senior year.
      • So we started doing a Junior Recruiting Dinner – the spring of their junior year.
  • Send First (from Texas A&M)

    • In Cru, our mission is Win-Build-Send
    • But for most campuses (in Cru) it becomes Gather-Build-Keep
    • You will rarely have “enough” (though we do ask staff to think through how they’ll replace themselves when they go overseas)
    • Like with evangelism, we can easily leave sending out to be added in later when someone is “mature” or our movement is ready to begin sending.
    • However, these things don’t really work being tacked on at the end.
    • They have to be part of the DNA of the movement.
    • When does the DNA get there? At conception. Same with sending. Students need to be hearing it from Day 1.
    • At the front door of people being involved with us, we want them to know we are actively helping students know Christ, and they can be part of that.
    • We also want them to know that the gospel needs to go to the whole world and they can play a part in that too.
    • We may not be sending freshmen on STINT, but we want to plant the seed in their mind that they could go down the road.
    • We can easily look at our current situation and say that we have nothing to give, or no one to send.
    • We seek the Lord’s blessing here in hopes that one day we will have extra to send. But God blesses us that we can be a blessing to others.
    • Psalm 67 starts: “God be gracious to us and bless us, 
And cause His face to shine upon us. That Your way may be known on the earth,
Your salvation among all nations.”
    • Whether it is with our finances or people there is generally too big of a gap between the receiving and the giving. We tend to hold on too long. We need to send out resources, or we will become ingrown.
    • I need young interns here to help reach the next class of freshmen, but if it comes to Interning here or Stint over at our partnership, I want to send them to labor there.
    • I would rather send a solid STINT team than have a big team here.
    • You’ll get a lot of them back (STINT’ers coming back as staff in the States)  – they won’t all go overseas long term though hopefully a lot do
    • We have 7 staff and 4 of them want to go overseas
    • And it’s going to be hard if they all leave
    • But I would send them.
    • If we have a smaller team, it’s OK
    • That’s what we are about

The-Top-Sending-Campuses

This is the part 2 in a series of posts summarizing key findings from researching 17 of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses in the nation.

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

Across all 17 schools I interviewed, these are the 11 themes that emerged pretty consistently:

 

  • The MTLs and staff own sending
    • MTL (Missional Team Leader):
      • “As the leader, it has to be yours. As the leader, as the mouthpiece, you need to be telling the stories and leading from experience.” – A&M
      • “You need to embrace that ownership comes from the top. MTLs [Team Leaders] have to lead the way on this and go themselves every 2-3 years to each of your partnerships. Unless you go and keep your heart connected to your partnership… your staff and students won’t keep their heart connected either.” – Wisconsin
      • “I had to learn as an MTL: My words carry a lot of weightI’m looking people in the eye and I’m saying: ‘I’d really like you to be on our team’” – Missouri State
    • Staff
      • “The staff must own the partnership – By that they take personal responsibility for leading the projects, recruiting the teams, coaching them…”
      • “The main mouthpieces of the movement need to be speaking of the partnership from first hand experience.”
      • “Vision trips or summer projects every few years are great ways to keep things fresh for those who are casting vision.”
      • The best invitation is “Come with me” and we must have a continual flow of staff and interns leading these trips to give students their first taste of the partnership.” – A&M
      • “We get our staff to bleed mobilization. Every staff goes to one of our partnerships in first 2 years on the team” – Wisconsin

 

  • Creating a culture of going – everyone’s doing it – there’s momentum.
    • I heard this over and over: “It’s what our movement is about – we’re about mission.” “It’s just in the air of our movement that students breathe.”
    • Sending campuses don’t recruit. “It’s who we are.” It’s in their DNA. It’s the air they breathe as a staff team and movement. They eat/drink/sleep Sending to the World.
    • “You are changing the culture of your movement not just getting people to sign up. This will take time, intentionality and prayer.” – Wisconsin
    • Not super helpful if you don’t have momentum. But I think it gives hope – that once you push the snowball up hill you’ll eventually be chasing it downhill as it grows
    • “It’s not like they get to their senior year and start thinking ‘I want to intern’. A lot of them are thinking about it from freshmen/sophomore year” – UC Davis
    • To them it just makes sense – “why would I not at least give a year of my life to explore doing ministry full time. I want to get really good ministry experience before I go into the work world.” It becomes the norm- UC Davis

 

  • A Foundational Sending Class
    • How do you get there? How do you get to “Everyone’s doing it”?
    • It definitely was a theme among many campuses that they had an “Foundational Sending Class” of 4-6 interns. Or 4-6 STINT’ers.
    • “You need a couple really key students to buy in. Challenge the right students to really consider it and pray about it. If they have a great experience as well, everyone sees that and they think ‘they’re having a great year and really growing as interns’” – UC Davis
    • “Pray for and challenge 4-8 graduates to go together. Once you do this the ball will start rolling down hill and future generations will want to do the same thing. Plant these seeds with your current freshman class. ‘where will you guys go together after you graduate?’”  – Wisconsin

 

  • Consistent vision for the world
    • Global Missions is what the Bible is about and what God is about
    • Continually expressing the need
    • Sprinkle world vision into everything you do
    • 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

 

  • Prayer –
    • Praying as a movement for laborers (“ask the Lord of the harvest”)
    • Praying by name for students to join your team or STINT

 

  • Having a large movement
    • Most of the top sending movements are very large.
    • Avg size = 549 students
    • I didn’t specifically interview them in this series, but I could have listed most of the schools from the Large Movements Series I did a couple years ago – i.e. – Florida, Michigan State, NC State, etc. These schools are sending a lot because of their large movements.
    • Obviously you can have a large movement and fail to send.
    • And you can send from a smaller movement.
    • But the benefit of having a large movement = you have more people. If you have 8 seniors involved, the most you can send is 8. If you have 50 seniors…

 

  • Having a healthy, fun team
    • “Creating an environment where people love doing ministry together”
    • “Our team is a lot of fun and we love each other and love our jobs (and students know that)”
    • “It’s creating a culture that students want to be a part of – where they feel valued”
    • “How can we make this an incredible working environment that people want to come work for us?”
    • “Healthy teams are attractive to students”
    • “It snowballs when your team is an attractive team to be on and students get to be around that enough and think ‘I want to be a part of that’”

 

  • A close movement that feels like a family
    • Good relationship with staff – “There’s no substitute for personally knowing well the people you’re challenging to go”
    • Many have a family atmosphere where student leaders are often in staff’s homes
    • This is particularly key for not-large movements (I hate to say “small” because the vast majority of college movements have less than 100 students involved. They’re not small. They have 100-200 students involved – but just in contrast to the handful of huge cru movements): UC Davis, OK State, Cal State Chico

 

  • Going in groups on Summer Missions and Vision Trips
    • 75% or higher – the percentage of Interns, STINTers, and New staff who have previously participated in a Summer Mission (an educated guess by a few informed leaders in Cru)
    • “Summer Missions are the lead measure for full time staff” – Wisconsin
    • “There’s a good chance if students go on Spring Break overseas, then STINT will be on their radar”
    • “Generally our best leaders are the ones who have gone on these projects and been stretched by the Lord.”
    • “Sometimes vision trips are the best for producing STINT’ers because they get a good taste of STINT life”
    • “Pick a good project – not all projects are created equal”

 

  • Ministry experience
    • Students experienced being used by God to change someone’s life and they want to do it full time
    • “When we have asked great things of them on campus, they are not as overwhelmed when we ask them to join us either on staff or as part of a STINT team.” – Dan Allan
    • “Seeing God use them on their campus and around the world is a significant factor in choosing to serve Christ full-time after graduation. Whether overseas or on their campus, set them up to see changed lives happen around them.”

 

  • An intentional plan
    • “From August to May you need to have a plan for utilizing each part of the year for sending”
    • “Who are my potential summer leaders this coming year? Because they will assemble their team. They are the most important person to get on board”
    • Brainstorming, praying for, and meeting one on one with most juniors/seniors to intern/STINT
    • A well planned Govember

 

What are your big takeaways from these 11 Keys?

The-Top-Sending-Campuses

This is the part 1 in a series of posts summarizing key findings from researching 17 of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses in the nation.

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

How important are campus dynamics?

One of my theories going into researching the Top Sending Campuses was that campus dynamics are very important – that it’s easier to send from a Midwestern State than it is from Northwestern.

So is it easier to send from a less academically rigorous school where most students don’t have specific plans already for post-college? The answer is yes it’s easier, but not necessarily more fruitful.

Let me explain.

The reality is that it IS easier to send from the big state school that’s not academically rigorous. My alma mater Texas Tech and current ministry location – University of Arkansas would fall into this category. And God has used these schools to produce many laborers. I heard from many schools (see Cal State Chico, Missouri State, Oklahoma State) thoughts along these lines:

  • We’re a state school – anyone can get into it
  • Students are here because they wanted to party or they didn’t get into their #1 school because of grades or they did not have a plan for their life – they have no clue
  • Students have no career plan
  • Not a lot of our students are doing summer internships, a lot of them are doing victory laps (5th year)
  • It gives us the ability with a clean slate to cast vision for Summer Missions, Internship, and STINT

But here’s the thing: it may be easier to send from less academically rigorous schools, but that doesn’t mean those schools end up being more fruitful (in terms of numerical sending). Just taking a rough look at the Top 25 Sending Schools in Cru, it’s pretty evenly split between elite schools and “easier” school.

I was really surprised by that – that half of the best sending schools are academically rigorous schools (see Northwestern, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio State – others I didn’t interview include UCLA, UNC Chapel Hill, Boston). Here’s why:

  • Elite schools can actually be incredibly fruitful despite the challenges because they ARE challenging. Elite schools are filled with leaders. Leaders respond to challenges. They may already have huge plans for life post-college. But once Christ gets a hold of their life, they develop huge plans for Christ. Students at academically rigorous (and often very secular) schools have to count the costs early on and decide to truly follow Jesus. They often instantly face persecution from classmates, parents, and professors. They have decided that Jesus is worthy of their lives.

Kim Johnson (Cru Team Leader at Northwestern) has some wisdom on sending from elite schools (and I heard similar things from the team at the very liberal University of Wisconsin):

  • You have to get it out of your thinking that “it’s just different here”
  • You can’t go in with the mentality that it won’t work here – you’re lowering your faith – “Oh, my students are different so it just won’t happen here”
  • You have to look at it – “Oh, I have more potential than other campuses because once they buy in, they’re all in”
  • We’re at an advantage at an academic school, because if they really make Jesus Lord of their life they’ve bought all in
  • Getting them on Summer Mission is huge – seeing other campuses – that this is normal

If you you do college ministry at an elite school, you should read the full posts on Northwestern and University of Wisconsin

 

For those of us on state schools that are less academically rigorous, what is the takeaway? For me it’s pretty challenging and inspiring to hear what elite students are “giving up” to go into full time ministry. A few random thoughts:

  • It makes me think we are underperforming in the area of sending. We need to step our game up. We have an incredible stewardship and opportunity that many of our students ARE a blank slate coming into college with no clear career plan. Friends on Cru staff at Harvard tell me how they have students involved who since they were 6 have wanted to go to Harvard and become a doctor. On our campus, most of our students are lucky if they know what they’re going to do this weekend. We can be and should be a pipeline for sending out hundreds of laborers.
  • I think it’s sometimes the case that some students from easier schools will go into full time ministry because they really don’t many other options. They’re not super ambitious and so they kind of back into full time ministry. Raising support is a great filter because it tests this crowd and their determination and initiative and faith.
  • Our staff need to pursue the “elite” students on our campus. The ones who ARE getting multiple job offers. We want the best and brightest to join us in full time ministry. I think we often gravitate toward “easy targets”. We buy into lies- “Well, she’s got a 6 figure offer from Google. She’s so smart, I’d hate for her to pass up that opportunity.” “He’s got a 4.0, and a free ride in grad school, I don’t want to ask him”. What do we believe about our jobs (full time ministry) when we see it as “less than”? We don’t REALLY believe that we’re offering an incredible opportunity to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission. We need brilliant leaders to solve the greatest problem in the world – how do we get the good news of Jesus to every corner of the world?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Whether you serve on an elite campus or the biggest party school in America, I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn from your experience.