Archives For July 2017

The two largest college ministries, Cru and InterVarsity, have announced a desire to work together to reach every campus in the U.S.
Jason Thomas, the Executive Vice President of Field Ministry for InterVarsity (the Chief Ministry Officer for InterVarsity), made the announcement to 4,000 Cru staff at Cru17, Cru’s biennial staff conference.
Jason Thomas shared how in the last couple years InterVarsity has undergone significant changes.
He shared that several things have led to InteVarsity’s organizational reorganization:
  1. “We’ve been growing – new staff and team leaders
  2. We’ve had an unprecedented number of staff hitting retirement age
  3. We’ve been trying to ask our directors to not think about how many campuses do you have (what is) to how many campuses are in your scope (what could be). It’s very clear – that our focus has become every campus in the nation.
So we’ve been asking how can we reorganize around that vision?
It’s led to a lot of new leadership.
90% of our IV executive leadership team is new to their job in the last 10 months (among the 25 leaders at the VP, Executive VP, President level).
We are working to discern a 2030 vision that is forcing us to think differently – to innovate and to partner. To ask: “what could we do together with Cru that we couldn’t do alone?”
Could we together think about every campus? Could we mobilize people to pray on every campus?
We’re praying for revival, renewal, a great awakening among the 23 million college students and faculty in America. And I’m praying, “God, I want to be a part of this!
Founded in 1941, InterVarsity is one of the oldest and largest campus ministries. Cru started in 1951 and is the largest missions organization in the world.


In 2015-2016, InterVarsity was on 667 campuses, with over 41,000 students involved, and 1,329 Staff.


Cru is on 758 campuses and has roughly 68,000 students involved and 4,000 U.S. campus staff.

May God use this new partnership to reach more college students with the gospel on more campuses!

I thought this was fun to see – how God continues to use Cru to reach college students with the gospel.

note: stats include faculty and high school although vast majority involved (93%) are college students.

A few thoughts:

  • In college ministry, numbers like these are all the more incredible because every year you have to reload. Even maintaining the number of students involved requires a tremendous amount of work. It’s not like Cru just added 19,000 more students involved in the last decade. Those 48,367 students from 2006 graduated and are gone. 67,958 new students got involved.
  • “Exposures” counts (a website of Cru campus ministry) in 2006 and 2016 (1996 being pre-internet) – Praise God for the internet! But obviously that skews the numbers a bit.
  • “Decisions” does NOT count If you include decisions made on, 84,859 and 378,564 trusted Christ in 2006 and 2016 respectively.


This just represents one organization among many churches and organizations that are reaching an increasing number of college students. The best is yet to come in college ministry! I can’t wait to see what God does in the next decade through churches and organizations committed to doing the hard work of reaching college students with the gospel.

The History of Cru

July 14, 2017 — 7 Comments

These videos and this book should be required for all Cru staff.

Cru just released (June 2017) a 5 part video series (you can watch them below) on the History of Cru (They’re not exactly going viral – only 49 people have watched them!).

As a staff member, they’re really fun to watch, and a reminder of how greatly God has used Cru to bring millions to know Him. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.

So much of what we take for granted now in Evangelicalism is wrapped up in the history of Cru. Not to say that Cru is exclusively responsible for what God did in these areas. Obviously all glory goes to God and not Cru or these men and women. And MANY ministries and churches played a role in all of the following. But Cru played a major role in:

  • Developing the personal support raising model that is widely used by all missions organizations – “In an era of falling church investment in evangelism, Bill Bright pioneered the individual missionary support model, which seeks commitments from 50 to 100 individuals to give regular monthly amounts.” Now, there is some debate on whether this was good or bad. And obviously it’s not the ONLY way. But it radically widened the bottleneck for laborers. You can only send out as many laborers as you can salary. And central fund raising severely choked the laborer pipeline. And Bill Bright’s innovation enabled hundreds of thousands of laborers to GO. If you’re on support, you may not be the biggest fan of MPD, but consider this – Cru staff made $100 a MONTH before Dr. Bright innovated the personal support raising model! Which do you prefer?
  • The rapid spread of the gospel through the Global South via the JESUS Film. Aside from the aggressive translation of the Bible by Wycliffe, I can’t think anything else that has so greatly multiplied the reach of the gospel.
  • The rise of evangelicalism in America (not aways a good thing!) – more on that below, with the book
  • Christian contemporary music (again, definitely not always a good thing!)
  • The renewed focus on evangelism in the 20th century= Cru + Billy Graham. Billy Graham brought a crusade/event driven evangelism. Cru brought training in personal evangelism.
  • Sending college students on summer missions trips
  • Using culturally relevant means to share the gospel (as opposed to the cloistered fundamentalism that was the dominant form of evangelicalism). Cru was widely criticized for their open stance to the culture. America was greatly altered by this.
  • Millions of churches being planted across the U.S. and around the world. Case in point – Cru played an ENORMOUS part in shaping my state of Arkansas. Fellowship Little Rock and Fellowship Northwest Arkansas are two of THE most effective, large, and fruitful churches in the state. Both were started by former Cru staff and students who graduated from college and longed to replicate what they had experienced in Cru – aggressive evangelism and discipleship – in a church. So they started those churches. Not to mention the incredible impact an Arkansas Cru grad, Dennis Rainey, has had on our state/nation/world through founding Family Life Ministries. That’s not to mention the number of Cru alumni who went on to seminary to become pastors- I heard the story once that in the late 1970’s at Dallas Theological Seminary, someone conducted an informal survey in his first year Greek class of 40-some students, “How many of you here either came to Christ, or were discipled through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ?” Every hand (except for one) was raised.
  • And last, but certainly not least, the critical importance of the college campus in changing the world for Christ (shoutout to Navs and Intervarsity for doing this too!)

What first opened my eyes to the history of Cru is the book:

Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America.

The author set out (for his doctoral dissertation) to find the roots of the rise of American Evangelicalism in the latter half of the 20th century. He was not familiar with Cru but in his research he began to see what a critical role Cru played in the surge of Evangelicalism. So he gives an (what I thought was very) objective history of Cru (warts and all).

On the less objective side (but nonetheless excellent and well worth watching!) – these five 20-minute videos do a great job of summarizing the history of Cru. Very inspiring. We stand on the shoulders of giants – men and women who have creatively, boldly, and passionately shared the gospel with millions of people. There’s much work to be done. It’s a privilege to take the baton from them to continue the work.


Back in 2010, Jim Collins gave a brilliant talk on leadership at the Drucker Day Keynote.

The whole thing is worth listening to, but starting at minute 47 – Jim spends the last 10 minutes of his talk addressing young leaders – with 10 words of advice.

The best of what he says:

1) Build a personal board of directors
  • For me – this has come through seeking out meetings with great leaders. Not sure who to meet with? Ask a great leader – “who are great leaders I should learn from?” Cru staff – SPEND YOUR CRU17 DOING THIS.
  • As you meet great leaders, you’ll find leaders that really challenge you to grow and that, personally, you just like. Just give them a call every few months to see what they’re learning and what interesting problems they’re trying to solve. And ask them for help on a problem you’re trying to solve.
2) Turn off your electronic gadgets – not for others but for yourself. Great leaders take time to think.
3) Work on your three circles-
  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What can you be the best at in the world?
  3. What drives your economic engine? What are you useful for?
    • This one is more difficult in ministry. Business leaders are driven by profit.
    • Collins says the question for non-profits is, “How effectively do we deliver on our mission and make a distinctive impact, relative to our resources?”
    • I would offer that laborers is a key metric for college ministry.
    • Another possible measurement – staff to student ratio (how effectively we are delivering on our mission relative to our resources). How many students are involved per staff on campus? I’ve heard 50/1 is a good starting place.
  • These three build on each other – “Consistently well executed, accumulating one upon another, over a long period of time.”
4) What is your questions to statements ratio and can you double it? You spend way too much time being interesting. Why don’t you channel your energy into being interested. Learn from everyone you meet.
10) Prepare to live a life where at age 65 you’re 1/3 of the way through your work
  • This is definitely my goal! To live and do ministry in such a way that each decade builds upon itself and when you hit 65, you’re doing your best work with the greatest influence.
  • Love this from John Piper (that he wrote during the Presidential campaign of 2016) – Hillary, Bernie, Donald and Me. At age 70, his zeal and work output are ramping up!
Here’s Jim’s talk, starting at minute 47 when he begins to address young leaders: