Archives For December 2015

Top 5 Posts of 2015

December 29, 2015 — Leave a comment
This year on the blog was dominated by a series on sending. I’ve written on other topics on Collegiate Collective and Campus Ministry Today. You can see a few of my top Collegiate Collective posts here.
A few years of research culminated in a series of posts on sending in a few broad categories:
So all 5 of the top 5 posts of 2015 were about sending. Here were the top 5 in order of popularity (The top two earned FAR more views than any of the next 3. Triple and double the number of views, respectively.):

1) Cru Staff Allocation vs. the Need

Cru is divided into 10 regions in the U.S. Where is the greatest need for laborers? Where are the hardest places to grow a movement? Where are the hardest places to raise up laborers? Fascinating stuff, imho.

2) Learning From Cru’s Top Sending Campuses in the Nation

Detailed interviews with the directors of 17 of the best sending campuses in Cru. 
389 of the 918 full time laborers sent into the Cru Campus Ministry in 2014 came from just 25 campuses. So 4% of the Cru movements send 42% of the laborers.
What do the Top Sending Campuses have in common? Are they all large movements? Is it because they have large staff teams? What made students want to join the mission full time?

3) We Are Losing an Entire Generation of Laborers to Student Loan Debt

“The greatest enemy [to sending] other than Satan himself is educational debt.” Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary
Seven out of ten students that we are challenging to full time ministry are carrying a crippling weight.
Seven in ten college graduates have student loans. And their average debt is $29,400.
This post looks at the issue of student loan debt, how it prevents students from going into full time ministry, and what we (in college ministry) can do about it.

4) Stats on Cru’s Top 25 Sending Campuses

What can we learn from the top 25’s sending stats? A few highlights:
  • The Top Sending Schools Need to Send More Than They Keep
  • These are large movements. I think we can confidently say that big sending comes from big campuses
  • Make a goal as a team to send a 1 to 1 ratio for every staff on your team. Do you have 10 staff on your team? Make it your goal to send 10 students into full time ministry every year. That’s the average on these Top Sending Campuses.

5) The Top Two Barriers to Sending — Part 1: Parents

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.
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)
This post addresses why parents’ disapproval is crippling to today’s students and what we can do about it.

Top 100 Songs of 2015

December 25, 2015 — Leave a comment

Our family listened to over 100,000 minutes of music in 2015 (20% more than 2014!) from 1009 different artists. Out of the 2,216 different songs I listened to I’ve narrowed it down to the top 100 songs of 2015. There weren’t any clear “song of the year” candidates this year. I like pretty much every song in the top 5 equally – it was tough to pick a #1.

In 2015, women ruled the Indie music world – with 7 of my top 10 songs. According to Spotify, Purity Ring and Chvrches were my two favorite bands of 2015. Those two female-fronted bands (as well as Grimes!) have a huge presence in my top 100 and were easily my favorite groups of 2015.

Biggest shocker – a Mumford song in my top 5 (for most of the year it was my #1)! Totally risking my indie-street cred.

Speaking of which, if you follow indie music at all, you’ll find that most “Top Songs of _____” are trying really hard to be cool and prove their hipster-ness.

My Top Songs list is Indie Music for the Masses – Indie Music that’s actually enjoyable to listen to (not grating avant-garde or sleep-inducing-singer-songwriter).

Most of these songs are Indie-pop, Indie-rock, or Indietronica.

To further explore amazing music, here are a few bonus lists:

Click “Follow” at the top of Spotify if you want to add any of the playlists to your sidebar of lists.

Here are my 100 favorite songs of 2015 (click to play individual tracks or here to play the full list in Spotify): 

100. Beautiful Words – Oscar

99. I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around – Chromatics

98. New Emotion – K.I.D

97. Sparks – Beach House

96. Do You Remember – Jarryd James

95. Higher – Kwamie Liv

94. Armor – Illuminine, I Will, I Swear

93. Hideaway – Ten Sleep

92. Dancing On Glass – St. Lucia

91. Beyond Love – Beach House

90. Radar – GRRL PAL

89. Too Much – Geographer

88. Fool for Love – Lord Huron

87. The Chase – Future Islands

86, I’m Ready – Geographer

85. Keep Your Lips Sealed – The Dø

84. Evening Ceremony – Active Child

83, Sunshine on My Back – The National

82, Superego – Leyya

81. The Game – Priest

80. America – XYLØ

79. Black Sun – Death Cab for Cutie

78, begin again – Purity Ring

77, Tide Teeth – Night Beds

76, Rich (feat. Anndreyah Vargas) – Radio Edit – Cosmo Sheldrake, Anndreyah Vargas

75. True Affection – Father John Misty

74. Realiti – Grimes

73, Bros – Wolf Alice

72. Red Shifting – The Helio Sequence

71, The Fool – Ryn Weaver

70. Wild Horses – Bishop

69. Hello – Adele – not too cool to put this song on here

68. heartsigh – Purity Ring

67. Until We Can’t (Let’s Go) – Passion Pit

66, Clouds – Cut Ribbons

65. Sister – The Japanese House

64. California – Grimes

63. flood on the floor – Purity Ring

62. Home – Madeon

61. Fourth of July – Sufjan Stevens – great song. A little too slow and depressing to get much play time on the ol’ minivan stereo

60. Make Them Gold – CHVRCHES

59. PPP – Beach House

58. Upward Mobility – The Helio Sequence

57. Patience – Geographer

56. Take Care of Me – Briana Marela

55. Queen Of Peace – Florence + The Machine

54. The Emotion – BØRNS

53. Leave A Trace – CHVRCHES

52. Delirious – Susanne Sundfør

51. I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler – YACHT – this song sums up my youngest child (and many college students!) perfectly. Always bored in a futuristic world. A la Louis CK’s “Everything is amazing and nobody’s happy”

50. Highway Patrol Stun Gun – Youth Lagoon

49. Sagres – The Tallest Man On Earth

48. Don’t Need Nobody – Ellie Goulding

47. Heart Is Full – Miike Snow

46. repetition – Purity Ring

45. Towards The Sun – From The “Home” Soundtrack – Rihanna

44. When Your Love Is Safe – Active Child

43. Falling Apart – Geographer

42. Scud Books – Hudson Mohawke

41. Dreams – Beck

40. Running With The Wolves – AURORA

39. TURN AWAY – East India Youth

38. Holes In The Sky – From The “Insurgent” Soundtrack – M83, HAIM

37. The Guest – Geographer

36. Carry Me Home – From The “Insurgent” Soundtrack – SOHN

35. Mountain At My Gates – Jono Ma [Jagwar Ma] Mix – Foals

34. Gosh – Jamie xx – Give this song a chance. Incredibly infectious.

33. Lost It To Trying – Paper Towns Mix – Son Lux – one of my girls’ favorite songs of 2015

32. Warm Blood – Carly Rae Jepsen

31. AhHa – Nate Ruess – probably my kids’ favorite song of 2015. Bonus points for randomly quoting a e. e. cummings poem during the chorus

30. Levitation – Beach House

29. Never Let You Down – From The “Insurgent” Soundtrack – Woodkid, Lykke Li

28. Sugar Pill – The Japanese House

27. Loud Places – Jamie xx, Romy – my #1 most-listened-to-song over the last few weeks. If I’d found it earlier in the year, it may have been higher up.

26. Animal – HAERTS

25. The Dreamer – Anna Of The North

24. Water – Ra Ra Riot, Rostam

23. stillness in woe – Purity Ring

22. Butterfly – Grimes

21. dust hymn – Purity Ring

20. At Once – Beirut – a great song from a disappointing album (was really looking forward to this album from one of my favorite bands)

19. John My Beloved – Sufjan Stevens – A sincere, longing song about Jesus. You don’t hear that much in the indie world. Sufjan wrestling with whether Jesus is just a myth or alive and active. 

18. Let It Happen – Tame Impala

17. Letter By The Water – The Japanese House

16. sea castle – Purity Ring

15. Easily – Grimes

14. Clearest Blue – CHVRCHES

13. Sedona – Houndmouth

12. Keep You On My Side – CHVRCHES

11. Come Find Me – Emile Haynie, Lykke Li, Romy

10. Eventually – Tame Impala – a great, sincere breakup song

9. Flesh without Blood – Grimes

8. Never Ending Circles – CHVRCHES

7. Space Song – Beach House

6. The Thunder Answered Back – Eskimeaux – super quirky and really good. 

5. Snake Eyes – Mumford & Sons – was my favorite song of the year for much of the year 

4. Belly of the Beat – Grimes – it was hard to pick my favorite Grimes song. In the last couple months, I’ve had Grimes on repeat. She’s super talented – she plays and produces everything you hear on the album (instruments and vocals).

3. Lemon Eyes – Meg Myers – really wanted to put this one at #1. Amazing debut song for her and best indie rock song of 2015.

2. stranger than earth – Purity Ring

1. Down Side Of Me – CHVRCHES


The only concert we went to all year – Chvrches in Kansas City!

Would love to hear – what were your favorite songs of 2015??

Top Albums of 2015

December 19, 2015 — 1 Comment

Here are my favorite albums of 2015. I’d love to hear from you what your favorite albums were.

Here’s my top albums from previous years: 2014201320122011 and 2010

Click links to play in Spotify

Tame Impala

tame-impala-currents6. Tame Impala – Currents

Had only had a little exposure to Tame Impala before this album but they definitely took it up a notch with this album. A couple great songs on this album:

sufjan carrie5. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell

I actually loved (and still listen frequently) to Sufjan’s experimental electro-album Age of Adz. So I was a little disappointed to hear that he was returning(regressing?) to a more stripped down acoustic sound. The verdict? In my opinion, not as good as Adz. Especially in terms of repeat listens. It’s a beautiful, dark, honest, depressing album about Sufjan coming to grips with the death of his mom (who abandoned him as a kid). But I don’t find myself going back to it very often. It’s just not very fun (at all). But there ARE some hauntingly beautiful songs. Part of the reason I don’t get to listen to it very often – my kids and my wife hate it. So our minivan is rarely blessed with the beauty of Sufjan. A couple of the best songs on the album:

A sincere, longing song about Jesus. You don’t hear that much in the indie world:


depression cherry4. Beach House – Depression Cherry

A chill album. Minimalist and beautiful. So many great songs. Not fun. But moving. Their music makes you feel like you are floating in space or relaxing in a hammock by the ocean.

A few of the best:


Grimes wins weirdest cover art of 2015. About half the songs are too weird to enjoy. The other half are amazing indie pop. She is one talented woman – she plays and produces everything you hear on the album (instruments and vocals). These are definitely my most listened to songs of the last few months:

purity ring2. Purity Ring – another eternity

It was very difficult to decide #1 and #2. Both amazing indie-pop albums packed with incredible songs. Chvrches just has a little more realness and emotion and depth. But Purity Ring has better beats. A tremendous improvement in this their second album (their first album had a few good songs and lots of bad ones). So many great songs. Hard to pick even a few to mention since they’re all so good:

chvrches1. Chvrches – Every Open Eye

Chvrches first album was really good. This one is bigger and deeper – a more expansive and polished sound. Not a bad song on the album. Definitely my family’s favorite album of the year (I was a little more divided between Purity Ring, Chvrches, and Grimes).

Some standout songs:

Would love to hear – what are your favorite albums of 2015?

As we head into the final weeks of the fall semester in college ministry, it’s a great time to step back and evaluate.

I wanted to share a few resources that have been helpful for our team as we seek to figure out if we have set our ladder against the right wall; to figure out what we should be focused on in the spring, and beyond.

We send out two evals to our team (just sent it out last night) to do on their own so we don’t have to take time during staff meeting to eval (we will compile all the evals and just read them together as a team). We do 2 evals since we have several AIA staff on our team and most ministry-strategy-stuff doesn’t relate to them. Here’s what I sent my team:
  • “The All Staff eval is SUPER short. It’ll take you 5-7 minutes.
  • The Cru Team Eval (AIA doesn’t need to do) will take a little longer – maybe 30 minutes”
Aside from those surveys that we send to our staff, a couple other helpful resources to help you evaluate your ministry:
  • We ask each of our staff to do the first part of this eval with each person they disciple: Evaluating the Quality of Your Discipleship (I believe this was developed by Roger Hershey). The second half of the Discipleship eval is good for each staff to do as they think through everyone they are discipling:  Which of your disciples is presently multiplying? And of those who are not multiplying, what are the barriers?
  • Cru Press Green (via Collegiate Collective!) has a great set of Eval questions
Here’s the agenda for our three days of December planning. Hopefully you can take some of this to use in your planning.


Day 1 of Planning:

Goal of week – To chart our course for the near future.  To set our direction.  And to be totally prepared to get started when we get back on day before classes start – Mon, Jan. 18
We spend the semester furiously climbing a ladder
Planning is a time to stop climbing and assess whether our ladder is leaning against the right wall, to re-evaluate where we’ve been and whether we are headed in the right direction
“The organizations that matter are busy being run by people who figure out what to do next” – Seth Godin
Some of what we will accomplish this week:
  • The first 6 weeks of Spring mapped out (and broadstrokes for whole Spring)
  • A thorough plan for each Critical Path Step for the spring
  • Winter Conference details nailed down (campus times, etc)
  • Leadership Retreat at beginning of year planned out
  • Our evangelistic strategy mapped out for Spring
  • Connecting with one another
Today= Where we are headed and where we are (Current Reality)
Go thru compiled evals 
In light of those evals, what should discuss/figure out this week:
Current Reality (reality is our friend)
Numbers in Bible studies
how many freshmen involved
How are we on our goals for this year?
Count # of students who have shared their faith
5 year Dream
We just diagnosed where we are
Where are we going?
Where do you want to go?
What would it look like to have faith and trust the Lord for more?  Let’s go for it!  Where are we going? Have we lost vision for reaching the whole campus?  Reaching all of the pockets?
Ministry vs Movement

A ministry can mean you’re doing great stuff – connecting the lost to Jesus and seeing lives change.But if we stop there, we just have a ministryA ministry is content with haphazard, dead end, life change.Dead end in that students rarely multiply their lives.Haphazard in that we’re content with seeing random students experience life change but they never are called to work together to a greater purpose, a mission, a cohesive vision for something bigger than themselvesA movement is going somewhere together through multiplicationSpecifically – a ministry becomes a movement when people begin to multiply their lives into others AND they are moving somewhere togetherNot just scattershot. But multiplication in a particular direction. Specifically for us, our vision is that everyone on campus would know someone who passionately follows Christ. So we want students multiplying their lives until everyone on campus hears about Christ from a friend.

Read 12 year planlink
Where are we at on the 12 year plan?

Brainstorm: Where do we want to be by 2020 [for frame of reference, our previous 5 year plan)?

DEVO – Jesus is better than ministry success or lack of success!
Devo – the gospel – succeed or fail – we have Jesus – our identity in him
Luke 10:17-20
We need to remember that our identity is in Christ – not in ministry success/failure
Psalm 4:7-8
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.CH Mackintosh in his commentary on Exodus:
“The one who will present Christ to others must be occupied with Christ for himself. Happy is the one who ministers in this way, whatever be the success or reception of his ministry. For should his ministry fail to attract attention, to command influence or to produce apparent results, he has his sweet retreat and his unfailing portion in Christ of which nothing can deprive him. Whereas the person who is merely feeding upon the fruits of his ministry, who delight in the gratification which it affords or the attention & interest which it commands, is like a mere pipe conveying water to others while retaining only rust for himself. This is a most deplorable condition to be in, and yet it’s the actual condition of every servant who is more occupied with his work and its results than with the Master and His glory.”

No matter how the fall went – fail or succeed, I have Christ.

Paul David Tripp has said, “It is very tempting to try to get your identity from your ministry success.” And the opposite is true as well – it’s very tempting to let ministry “failure” define you and shape your trust in God.I’ll let Tripp continue to preach (from his excellent book Dangerous Calling).

He identifies several things that pastors uniquely struggle with. #1? I LET MINISTRY DEFINE MY IDENTITY.

“Because you have a secure identity as a child of God, you don’t need to seek identity from the success of your ministry. You can do this because your standing with God is not based on your performance but on the perfect obedience of Christ. You need to preach these truths to yourself daily, because in ministry you either seek to get identity from your ministry or stand firm and secure in the identity you have been given in Christ.”

“Human beings are always assigning to themselves some kind of identity. There are only two places to look. Either you will be getting your identity vertically, from who you are in Christ, or you will be shopping for it horizontally in the situations, experiences, and relationships of your daily life. This is true of everyone, but I am convinced that getting one’s identity horizontally is a particular temptation for those in ministry.”
“The success of a ministry is always more a picture of who God is than a statement about who the people are that he is using for his purpose.”


Day 2 of Planning:

Prayer – For the Day, Wisdom, Pray for Winter Conference
5 Year Dream follow up convo
Good springs lead to good falls
Ask-> What would make a good fall (especially in terms of student leadership)?
When it comes to the fall, it’s all about manpower. If it’s just your staff team and 4 student leaders pursuing freshmen, you have a long road ahead of you. But if you line up 60 students in the spring who will focus on reaching freshmen, the fall will be good.
So the spring is the time to get your “reaching-freshmen-team” together. And to build consensus that we MUST reach freshmen.
And all this happens largely by raising up as many Community Group Leaders as possible.
So everything you do in the spring should contribute to assembling this team of leaders (tomorrow I’ll share some of the changes we made to be more focused on this with our spring).
  • #1 goal = getting students signed up to be CG leaders
  • January = getting people into CG
  • February = Discipleship/identifying future multipliers
  • March = Getting CG leaders for fall
Come up with Spring Plan

Based on current reality, what do we need to do?


Day 3 of Planning:

Leadership Retreat Plan

  • Leadership Retreat – coed, FUN, elements of content, overnight, just for leaders, Free!
Talk through each of our Critical Path Steps as it relates to the Spring
Eval Cru meeting
  • What do we want to keep doing?What do we need to change?
What do days look like during Christmas Break
You’re working full time (just not on campus)
Look at schedule 9-5

What you could spend time on:

  • Vision Dinner- Table Host and Silent Auction
  • MPD
  • New Staff Development
  • Meet with students
  • Winter Conference job
  • Any Admin wrap up
  • Take your vacation time if you have not already
Pray together over Spring
Recap what we accomplished this week
Sharing as a team about what each of us are doing over Christmas