Archives For Culture

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?


An annual tradition on the blog – a ton of stuff you can use on campus. Hopefully it saves you some time or gives you ideas.

Cool Music

Here’s an all-new 2013 Spotify playlist that we use at all of our freshmen cookouts and our weekly meeting.

It’s a mix of Indie Rock, Pop/Dance, and Christian Hip Hop.

We pay $10 for the month of August to get Spotify Premium so you don’t have annoying commercials.

glow sticks and beach balls1

As I’ve said before:

While cool, upbeat music may be #27 on the list of important things about a weekly meeting, it’s important nonetheless.

What’s the first thing students encounter when they come to your meeting? Your music that you’re playing before the meeting.

And what happens when they hear Newsboys or Rebecca St. James pumping out of your speakers? You immediately confirm their worst suspicions that you are cheezy and out of touch with their reality.

As much as I am not a big fan of hip hop nor dance music, at our weekly meeting we include quite a bit of hip hop/dance. I run the music at our regional winter conference and can conclusively say that hip hop & dance makes a marked difference on the “vibe” of the crowd. It makes your meeting a party. Literally. People dance. Especially if you add beach balls and glow necklaces (we have our first 3 weekly meetings outside – beach balls may be a little less fun indoors).


Intro Video for Weekly Meeting

Here’s a video we show at the beginning of our meeting the first few weeks. It serves two purposes:

  1. It functions as a cue to sit down and be quiet (there is intentionally space at the beginning to give everyone a chance to sit down).
  2. It communicates a little about who we are and what we’re about

To download it: click the Vimeo logo to go to the site.

Spiritual Interest Survey

We’ve put a lot of effort into streamlining our Spiritual Interest Survey card. We do it with 3000 freshmen/students the first week of class – so we want it to be quick and effective. Click here to download the photoshop file so you can edit it to fit your needs. Click for an adapted version we use at a Community College – pdf or Photoshop. And here’s one we use with athletes for AIA – pdf or Photoshop.

1 Minute Questionnaire

Cru Card

Our Cru Card that we use for our weekly meeting is similar but a bit different. You can download the photoshop file here.

1 Minute Questionnaire

Simple Cru Flier

Nothing special. But I always think it’s fun to see what other campuses do for promo. Here it is in Photoshop if you want to edit it and use it on your campus: Cru & Bible Studies (2 separate files)

Cru and dorm studies - blog

We used to do them in color but have found that b/w is just as sharp looking IF:

  • You print them on card stock
  • Have them “cut to bleed” (so that there is no white border)


First 4 Weeks Calendar

Always fun to see how other ministries operate. So here’s an overview of what our First 4 Weeks calendar looks like. You can download an editable Word Document here.

1st 4 weeks of class Calendar 2012 final

Fall Retreat Brochures

Here’s a post with 3 different Fall Retreat Brochure designs we’ve used.

Fall Retreat 2010 powerpoint slide



What about YOU?

Do you have any stuff your campus uses that would be helpful to share? Link to it in the comments!

kgp-blue-grayI would love for you to join the discussion on a post I wrote on CruPressGreen:

KGP: Awkward and Outdated or Invaluable to College Ministry? Discuss

The short of it: in working with college students, is there value in using a gospel tract such as the Knowing God Personally (KGP) or a “canned approach” like The Bridge? Or, are those tools irrelevant/awkward/harmful to a post-modern, secular college student?

Mike Schatzman is on staff with Cru and has served in Eastern and Western Europe (as well as in the U.S.). I thought his comments were worth highlighting.

Great insight:

I would add that the KGP is great for post-modern folks too. I have spent 11 years doing campus ministry in post modern countries with less than 2% Christian populations. These students want to know what a Christian is. The KGP is a simple way to explain what a Christian is in a way that makes sense. I was talking with a student named Gui not too long ago. He has never been to church and never held a Bible before. He asked me how a Christian is different from a muslim, etc. We went through the KGP and opened up the Bible to Eph 2:8-9. It was his first time to read something from the Bible. He understood it. Now I didn’t ask him to pray to receive Christ – he was still an atheist. But he understood the gospel. So much so that 3 weeks later we were walking by a church and he talked about Catholics doing penance to earn forgiveness. Then he said to me, “But you don’t believe that you have to earn forgiveness by doing stuff. You believe God gives it freely through Jesus.” I am not sure that he would have gotten that if we had just done the chit-chat approach to explaining the gospel. The KGP helps people understand the gospel.


The last thing I would add is that I have rarely (if ever) seen someone effective in relational evangelism who was not trained, at some point in time, in initiative evangelism using the KGP, Roman Road or some other “canned approach”.

Another great reason to be doing college ministry:

canaryMillennials are the canary in the religious mine. We can ignore them…but if we do that, we lose our ability to engage future generations. We need to pay attention to the millennial concerns. Not because the church needs to be hip. But because they grew up in postmodern culture. Engaging postmodern religion through the lens of the millennials will help the church of 2020 proclaim the Gospel to a complex and confusing world.      – John W. Hawthorne

We are doing ministry on the cutting edge of culture (as I posted last week re: Tim Keller’s belief that the future leaders of the church should be trained through doing College Ministry).

We are working with college students who are natives to a rapidly changing America where Christianity is no longer a moral majority. This generation will play a significant role in leading the Church into a new era of proclaiming Christ in a increasingly complex culture. Why? Because they are in their natural habitat. They know no other America than the one we are currently living in. Not that our culture is any less “complex and confusing” for Millennials – just that they are fluent in  complexity. They don’t have to “learn a new language” – the complexity is normal to them and thus easier for them to lead in.


HT: @DavidRobbinsCru

photo courtesy of Michael Sonnabend

Great insights from Tim Keller on how College Ministry is the best way to equip leaders who will impact our nation, from a post on

Keller paints a bleak picture of where America is as a culture: “This is an unprecedented time in human history…What’s new is the breadth of conviction that there is no such thing as truth. There have never been whole societies built on that idea. Never.”

“Everyone knows that younger people are far less religious than the generation before … and despite all the things that we’ve been doing for the last 30 years, we’re losing them.”

According to Keller, if you’re on a college campus, you’re on the culture’s cutting edge. It is, he says, our best leadership development pipeline. By exposing people to the cutting edge of culture where they have to deal with the modern mindset, where they have to deal with non-Christians — that, in Keller’s opinion, is the best way to develop pastors and lay leaders.

Read the whole article here – worth the read for Keller’s insights on where our culture is headed and what we need to do about it.

HT: @stephenlutz

gay pride on campus

This is a fascinating read to understand the minds/hearts of many college students:

An Open Letter to the Church from My Generation – a blog post by Dannika Nash, a college student in South Dakota.

The post contains many insights on Millennials, including:

  • How deeply they are influenced and shaped by media (music, TV, Twitter) – especially in the new flat world

“So many of us were brought up in churches and Christian homes, and even if we weren’t, we’ve experienced the traditional Christian culture that just resonates from South Dakota’s prairie land. We know conservatism; we know tradition. But we also have Twitter, we watch SNL, we listen to Macklemore, and we read Tina Fey. We’re more in touch with the rest of the country than the Midwest has ever been.”

  • Their aversion to the culture wars (and hollow rhetoric)

“We want to hear about equality and love in a gentle way. We’re sick of the harsh words of both sides. Say what you want about my generation, but we can smell fake from a mile away.”


The bulk of the post deals with Dannika’s plea to the church to not make Millennials choose between God and equality for gay people.

“I was forced to choose between the love I had for my gay friends and so-called biblical authority. I chose gay people, and I’m willing to wager I’m not the only one.

So, my advice to you, the Church: You CAN have a conservative view on gay marriage, or gay ordination. You can. But I want you to have some serious conversations with God, your friends that disagree with you, and maybe even some gay people, Christians or not, before you decide that this one view is worth marginalizing my generation.

We want to stay in your churches, we want to hear about your Jesus, but it’s hard to hear about love from a God who doesn’t love our gay friends (and we all have gay friends).


A College Kid Who Misses You”


I know Dannika doesn’t speak for every college student. But I would venture to guess that she speaks for a majority of them.

Over the last year (really since the uproar over Chick-fil-A last summer) I’ve been intrigued by the rapid shift in public opinion on gay marriage, especially among college students. The latest polls show that, among young people, support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high of 70 percent.


I agree with Matt Morton: “Most of us aren’t eager to go to war over moral, political, or cultural issues, when our primary purpose is to make disciples of Jesus.” But for those of us in college ministry, we NEED to be thinking through how we respond to this colossal shift in the audience that we serve.

For many college students this is a defeater belief – a “consensus belief that automatically makes Christianity seem implausible” – Tim Keller.


I haven’t formulated many answers yet. I think Matt’s response is a good start: asking students “would you be willing to first consider Jesus Himself before asking me about homosexuality?”


What are your thoughts?

How do we affirm an orthodox Biblical view of marriage and homosexuality while still loving gay students (and the majority of students that have gay friends)?

How do we address this issue without making it THE issue?


photo courtesy of UMaineStudentAffairs

This TED talk is a must watch for College Ministry and Cru City staff (or much quicker: read the transcript – TED has a great feature where you can read the transcript and click on a phrase to play the video at that point).

Some great insights:

  • As a culture we have trivialized what is actually the defining decade of adulthood
  • 80% of life defining moments happen by the time you’re 35
  • Your personality changes more in your 20’s than any other time in your life
  • So what do you think happens when you pat a twentysomething on the head and you say, “You have 10 extra years to start your life”? Nothing happens. You have robbed that person of his urgency and ambition, and absolutely nothing happens.
  • The post-millennial midlife crisis isn’t buying a red sports car. It’s…many thirtysomethings and fortysomethings say[ing] about their 20s, “What was I doing? What was I thinking?”
  • I want to change what twentysomethings are doing and thinking.

And how about this vision for reaching college students and twentysomethings:

What I love about working with twentysomethings. They are so easy to help. Twentysomethings are like airplanes just leaving LAX, bound for somewhere west. Right after takeoff, a slight change in course is the difference between landing in Alaska or Fiji. Likewise, at 21 or 25 or even 29, one good conversation… can have an enormous effect across years and even generations to come.

Watch here or click to watch on TED (and to be able to read the transcript):

HT: @guychmieleski for tweeting about it!

Many are bemoaning the Millennial Generation’s inability to focus and think deeply.

But what if their Internet induced ADD is actually a good thing and possibly even a catalyst for fulfilling the Great Commission?

“Perry Hewitt, director of digital communications and communications services at Harvard University, says this evolution is positive. “It seems easy to decry the attention span of the young and to mourn the attendant loss of long form content—who will watch Citizen Kane with rapt attention when your Android tells you Rosebud was a sled? On consideration, though, the Internet has brought forward not only education, but thinking. While we still want to cultivate in youth the intellectual rigor to solve problems both quantitatively and qualitatively, we have gotten them out of the business of memorizing facts and rules, and into the business of applying those facts and rules to complex problems. In particular, I have hope for improved collaboration from these new differently ‘wired’ brains, for these teens and young adults are learning in online environments where working together and developing team skills allows them to advance.”

Technology by 2020 will enable the youth to ignore political limitations, including country borders, and especially ignore time and distance as an inhibitor to communications.” – Pew Internet Findings



You can see the potential through existing tools like Skype.

Take two of my least Tech-savvy friends for example:

One is 33 years old. Not exactly a digital native (he still doesn’t have a facebook account) but he walks into a staff meeting last week on the phone with a STINT’er in China. A free phone call. On his cell. Via Skype. With someone in China.

That wouldn’t have been possible 2 years ago.

A call on a land line (the only possible way) just 15 years ago would have cost $15.

In 1930 a 15 minute international phone call would have cost $1500.

In 2012 it’s free. With video. On a mobile device.

Another friend, who is 62, every week uses Skype to have 10 separate video Bible study appointments with friends in East Asia (with non-Christians and Christians).


If this is how old folks are using technology for the glory of God, imagine the potential for Digital Natives.


I, for one, am excited about the future of Missions led by complex-problem solving, hyper-connected, borderless Millennials.


photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon

It’s a special SXSW Free Music Edition of Music Mondays.

For those of you who can’t afford $599 tickets to SXSW (not to mention airfare and hotels). . .

Here’s a ton of free, legal songs from many of the bands that are playing at SXSW:


An additional free-of-charge tip:

  • Be sure to check back frequently with Google’s new, all-things-media store Google Play. Everyday they have a different album for 25 cents. I’ll repeat. An entire album. 25 pennies. Even I will buy Coldplay Mylo Xyloto for 25 pennies (they’ve also had Lady Antebellum, Guns n Roses, et al). They also have a daily book for 25 cents (Moneyball is today’s).
  • AND Amazon seems to be matching every day’s music deal (if, like me, you prefer Amazon’s much simpler though not-nearly-as-simple-as-iTunes downloads).

Let us know in the comments about any other great music deals we’re missing out on (SXSW related or otherwise)!

Everyone who seeks to mobilize support for a non-profit should be taking notes on what Invisible Children has accomplished. And I think we can learn a lot from the video.

Most of us will barely pause to watch a 3 minutes “cause” video. But this morning, with my bowl of cereal, I sat (with 21 million others) watching a THIRTY minute video.

The rapid spread of the video seemed to have far surpassed even Invisible Children’s lofty hopes (I saw one IC’er tweet that they were hoping for 500,000 shares on Twitter).

  • Fast Company called it the Making of a Viral Masterpiece and a public relations coup
  • Celebs/Twitter Royalty like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Perez Hilton, Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest and others watched the video and retweeted it.
  •  They’ve reached more people in 24 hours than the last 9 years of crisscrossing the globe showing videos on college campuses (Though you’d have to guess that all that crisscrossing gave them the foundation and good will, and brand recognition to create such a massive groundswell. Makes you wonder what would have happened if they were a brand new org just starting with this KONY2012 gameplan. Would it have taken off like it has without the hard work of many years?)

A few takeaways (as I process what we can learn for our own organization):

  • While many bemoan slacktivism (taking easy, social actions in support of a cause), I think this Invisible Children coup gave a glimpse of how it can be harnessed and channeled for good (and see this article – Slactivism Causes Engagement)
  • Video is powerful
  • College students love causes (and slacktivism!). Though I do follow a disproportionate amount of college students on Twitter it seems like the majority of the Retweets came from this generation.
  • Invisible Children had a VERY well thought through gameplan. It wasn’t just a video. And the video didn’t just cast vision for their cause. They give really clear next steps (and more vision!) for how YOU can get involved.
  • They targeted key gatekeepers who could help accelerate the spread of their idea (and make it super easy for their devoted followers to pester those gatekeepers until they give in)
  • Be ready for pushback
    • In this new age of instant media exposure, it seems that pushback is soon to follow
    • The PR battle is won or lost quickly on the internets
    • Almost immediately on the heels of all the good PR, many started retweeting this Visible Children article that is strongly anti-Invisible Children
    • [update – Fast Company has a good summary of the backlash]
    • Cru experienced this, this past summer. I think we could learn a thing or two from how Invisible Children responded in less than 24 hours to these unfavorable reports:
      • Invisible Children has an entire section of their website dedicated to critiques


It’s obvious that explicitly Christian non-profits can’t replicate everything a secular (though Christian-based) organization like Invisible Children does.

But I wonder:

  • Would a group like the Travelling Team (who, much like Invisible Children, travels across the U.S. mobilizing college students) would benefit from putting more resources toward a social media/video strategy?
  • Should Cru be investing more money in video/social media?
  • Who are the gatekeepers we should be seeking out who can quickly help ideas spread (and how can we help our already-devoted followers win them over)?
  • How can we help channel college students’ natural passion for world-changing?


What are your takeaways?