Archives For Evangelism

When it comes to the fall in college ministry, as Paul Worcester has said – It’s All About the Contacts!

Because of that, a lot of thought and time has gone into crafting a perfect spiritual interest survey: how to throw the net broadly but not so broadly so as to become useless.

We aim to survey about 3,000 students in the first two days of school.

The problem we run into, with our team of 4 staff and several dozen student leaders= we can’t get to all 3,000 contacts immediately.

A good survey can go a long way to helping you filter through thousands of contacts and find the students who are most spiritually interested.

For our campus – we are aiming to follow up with spiritually interested non-Christians. On a campus in the buckle of the Bible belt, that can be a bit of a challenge.

Here’s our card (here’s the photoshop-editable pdf file so you can edit it and make it your own; after you download it, right click and select “open with Photoshop”):

We will text all students who indicated interest (a ‘maybe’ or ‘yes’ on their card).

But we want to get face to face with all 3-‘maybes’. Why? Because those are typically spiritually interested non-Christians. We took off “Maybe” for years. But recently put it back on to try to hit that spiritually-indecisive-but-curious student.

A couple years ago we ditched “email” and “dorm address” – both came across creepy. And we never email anyway.

 

At Cleveland Cru, Brian Metzer and his team recently changed their survey:

We simplified our survey a lot. We wanted to be less “survey-y,” more “we’d like to get to know you,” more positive filtering, less transactional, and tell us less so we went in with fewer preconceived ideas on the first appt.

Did you see an increase in the number of follow up appts?

About the same, and maybe even a little less. But qualitatively better. The non-believers we met with were more open. It felt less like we were tricking people into an appt. and we could genuinely get to know them. This also meant that we felt more likelihood of connecting again so less pressure to push ahead through the gospel on the first (and only) appt.

I think our goal shifted too. In our metro context [city-wide; focused on multiple campuses] we needed to surface not just people to meet with but hungry people to meet with. This has helped.

Cleveland Cru’s Survey:

At Michigan Cru, they’ve made some contextualized adaptations to their survey:

This is our card for Fraternity Pledge talks:

Katie Smith (Cru Team Leader in Eastern Iowa) on one change they’re making this year:

We are adding a place for their Snapchat username (student leaders said students are more quick to give that out & to respond that way for follow up – it’ll be the first time trying it, so we’ll see how it works!)

On a similar topic- on the Collegiate Collective discussion on Facebook (highly recommend joining that group, btw), someone asked what methods of communication students prefer. In these college ministers’s (very reputable) opinions:

  • not email
  • text is still king for reaching new people
  • snapchat and instagram for ministry-wide communication
  • groupme for internal communication with leaders

We have found all of that to be true on our campus.

The main idea from all these surveys:

  • Tailor your survey for the
    • audience you are trying to reach. Is it predominantly secular? Bible belt?
    • how many people you want to meet with. Do you want a really tight filter because you don’t have the capacity to follow up that many people (you just want to meet face to face with the “fish ready to jump in the boat”?) Or do you want a really broad filter that will leave the door open for you to contact as many people as possible?

Would love to see what surveys your team uses – link to them in the comments!

For decades, Cru’s mission has been “Turning lost students into Christ centered laborers.”

Our mantra has been “Win/Build/Send”. The reason I have remained on campus for 20 years is because I want to send laborers to the harvest.

But over the last few years I have been convicted that on our campus, our Cru movement could more accurately be described as “Gather/Build/Keep”

Our campus is solidly in the Bible Belt. It’s easy to find kids who grew up in solid churches. We can have a good size movement ministry by “Gather/Build/Keep”.

 

But that is not why I am on the college campus. I am on campus to send laborers.

 

And here’s the issue:
“People reproduce what they have experienced.” Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch – The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church
Students who are pursued and brought to Christ with much persistence, will turn into laborers who pursue with much persistence. Students who get involved because they were looking just to “plug in” somewhere will find it difficult to be persistent pursuers.

 

In other words, many of the most effective Christ-centered laborers start out as really lost freshmen.

 

Steve Shadrach remarked to me that he’s found THE one common element of radical world-changing college movements:
the movement is made up of students who were led to Christ in college. 

 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Cru on my campus – the University of Arkansas. In those five decades God has worked in some incredible ways. There have been seasons of true revival and thousands of laborers have been sent out. No exaggeration – hundreds of churches have been planted as a result of Arkansas Cru alumni. How did those revivals happen?
In the late 60’s and early 70’s when Cru began at the U of A, revival swept the campus.
In 1968, 2 Cru staff, Don and Sally Meredith, launched the ministry. Sally recounts: “It was in the turbulent sixties and the days of ‘God is dead’ philosophy. He proved soooooo alive.” That year they saw 4 students get involved and go with them on a summer mission with Cru.

 

One year later, they brought 200 students with them to the summer mission – the vast majority of those 200 had just trusted Christ.
Yesterday I spoke to a lady who was involved with Cru at Arkansas in the early 70’s – her comment: “It was really amazing – none of us came from Christian homes. Everyone involved with Campus Crusade became Christians in college.”

 

In the early 80’s, revival swept the Arkansas campus again.
This time through University Baptist Church (and what was to become StuMo). I encourage you to read Steve Shadrach’s recounting of that incredible movement of the Spirit. The common thread? They aggressively shared the gospel on campus and the movement was almost completely made up of new converts.
Do you want revival like that on your campus? I believe it begins with aggressively pursuing the lost.

Mark Brown, who was the long time Cru director at Miami (OH), once told me:

“It’s a longer process to turn a self-righteous, youth group all-star into a Christ-centered laborer than it is to turn a totally lost student into a Christ centered laborer.”
So do we not want already-strong Christians involved? Of course we want them involved. But we quickly want to engage them in the mission to show them that they are not involved in a Christian social club but a missional force that is engaged in the great adventure of proclaiming Christ to the nations.

 

What you win them with is what they will win others with. If you’re preaching (by words OR by deeds) “come get involved with us – you will really get poured into and have sweet praise and worship” then you will attract spiritual leeches. If you’re preaching (by words and deeds) “let’s boldly proclaim the gospel to lost students” then you are going to be a movement of world changers.

 

The primary way you preach “come help change the world” is to make your primary activity seeking the lost. Now, I’ve found that even the best of already-solid Christians usually require patient, persistent vision to catch the vision of seeking and saving the lost. It’s worth sticking with them and casting vision to them and continuing to push them to be a bold pursuer. I was one of those “already-solid” incoming freshmen. And I eventually turned into a laborer with a heart for the lost. But I spent many years in college actively trying to avoid sharing my faith! I mostly wanted to gather believers into my Bible study.

 

I have a friend who has labored in Western Europe for over a decade and he shared with me the issue he sees with much of our sending:
We have seen well over 250 students come through our country [on STINT and Summer Missions] but after all these resources, I could hardly get anyone to stay and work longterm. We would get students from these highly successful ministries that can’t cope with ministry…where you have to share your faith all the time.
Here in Europe it is purely a WIN-BUILD-SEND ministry. In America they were successful because you could find-build-send.
For example, we have had multiple students come here and tell me they want to run my weekly meeting. Others who say I want to have a worship ministry. Some say, “my goal is pour my life into 5 men who can multiply themselves”. Our city has 100,000 students and maybe 20 known Christ followers!! Not going to happen.

 

Effective Sending starts with Winning. The most effective Christ-centered laborers will likely start out as really lost freshmen.

 

So the question is: How would our staff and student leaders spend our time if we really believed that Sending starts with Winning?

 

As we as Christians think about where to invest our time and resources, I think these maps are really helpful:

Faithland from VividMaps

NYTimes’s Ross Douthat’s reaction (and Rod Dreher’s response) to that map:

As you might guess, I am with Douthat on this one. Granted, I haven’t read Dreher’s book. But it just doesn’t seem like the early church waited around for the tides of history to turn more favorable.

This second map from VividMaps is less, well, vivid but more helpful as it is just evangelicals (the above map has any religion – Muslim, Mormon, etc.)

I have written before (in 2015) about my organization, Cru, and our allocation of staff vs the need.

As far as solutions to this need, I still agree with my 2015 self –

  • I’m a big fan of empowering leaders by showing them a problem or a need and asking them to be a part of the solution.
  • I would love to see a grassroots movement of college ministries sending to where there is a need. A local-level driven movement where teams sacrificially send to the world and to more needy areas of the country. A mentality of “send first” and trusting God that He’ll provide the staff we need to reach our own campus

 

But I think there may be another component of the solution that my 2015 self couldn’t see: Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, in his book The Next Evangelicalism, makes a compelling case that the future of Christianity in America rests on the shoulders of immigrants and ethnic minority leaders:

White churches [in America] are in decline while the immigrant, ethnic and multiethnic churches are flourishing. Very few have recognized that American Christianity may actually be growing, but in unexpected and surprising ways. Contrary to popular opinion, the church is not dying in America; it is alive and well, but it is alive and well among the immigrant and ethnic minority communities and not among the majority white churches in the United States.

Unless [churches/parachurches] see growth among the ethnic minority population within their [congregation] they will experience steady decline.

Even while we consider the needs of the U.S., we HAVE to keep the bigger picture in mind. God is not America First.

 

The needs of the world dwarf the needs of the U.S. Virtually the whole world is < 5% evangelical (which is < than any part of America).(click to see a larger pdf)

from the IMB

And what of the new reality that the Global South (Africa/S America/Asia) is the New Face of Christianity?

In the year 1900, Europe and North America comprised 82 percent of the world’s Christian population. In 2005, Europe and North America comprised 39 percent of the world’s Christian population with African, Asian and Latin American Christians making up 60 percent of the world’s Christian population. By 2050, African, Asian and Latin American Christians will constitute 71 percent of the world’s Christian population.

The Next Evangelicalism – Dr. Soong-Chan Rah

As we think about where to invest our time and resources, a good bet is on the growth markets:

What do these maps tell you?

 

50 Dollar Party

January 21, 2015 — 1 Comment
This spring we’re giving each of our Community Groups a $50 bill to use to throw a party (an idea we stole from some other Cru movement – can’t remember who!)

 

50s
We encouraged our leaders to take the $50 to their group and allow the group members to help decide how to invest the $50. It’s a fun, tangible expression of “we want our Community Group to be on mission to reach this campus.” The hope is that it will challenge freshmen to step up and take ownership of the party and catch a vision for God using them to reach their dorm. 

 

All we asked is:
  • This is not $50 to throw a party just for your group – it should be held in the dorm that your group is connected with (or with the segment on campus, like a party you are inviting all civil engineers to) and it needs to be outward focused.
  • Take a picture of your outreach party and tag us on Instagram, post on the Facebook leadership page, etc.
What are some creative ways you have resourced students to live on mission?

 

photo courtesy of tenaciousme

The Critical Event

August 20, 2014 — 2 Comments

“The Critical Event” – a trained person taking a non-trained person to share their faith.

For Montana State Cru, The Critical Event is the most important measurement of staff’s success on campus. It’s what they celebrate.

click to read more about their Cru movement. 

Ever since I heard that concept from Montana State, it has shaped much of our philosophy of ministry in regard to evangelism.

The Apostle Paul wrote that the role of a Christian leader is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” – Ephesians 4:12.

On our team we talk about success for our staff is getting as many students as possible onto the playing field. We want to help as many students as possible to experience being used by God to change someone’s life.

79 students who shared the gospel in 2013-14This last year we’ve taken strides to better measure how we’re doing on The Critical Event (because how can you celebrate something you can’t see?).

So last year we kept track of how many students had the opportunity to share the gospel. We saw 31 different students share the gospel in the fall. And a total of 79 over the entire school year. 79 students – many of whom had never shared the gospel before in their lives. Unbelievably encouraging for our staff and student leaders to see that!

Imagine the ripple effect of that…

Now, sharing the gospel one time definitely doesn’t make you an expert. But it gets you on the playing field. And it’s the first step toward building the skill and confidence to be a life-long evangelist.

So that’s the back end of the Critical Event – an untrained person getting taken to share the gospel. This year we are trying to be even more intentional in measuring the front end of The Critical Event. We identified a list of students whom we are calling “Trainers”- students who can confidently share the gospel and can take other students with them.

Day 1 on campus, our first priority for our staff will be to take each of these Trainers out to share the gospel. For our staff to model boldness in sharing the gospel. To get these Trainers back on the playing field, first thing in the fall (to shake off the rust of summer).

On that appointment, after we share with a couple freshmen, we are going to challenge the student Trainer to embrace his/her crucial role in The Critical Event and to live out Ephesians 4:12. The unbelievable opportunity they have to take other students to share the gospel for the first time. To model boldness to their fellow students.

Typically, the first few weeks on campus, our staff are out there following up freshmen like crazy. Alone. This year, our hope is that these student Trainers will mobilize a whole team of students to share the gospel with freshmen.

Our hope is that by the end of the year, our list of Trainers will grow dramatically as more students grow in their confidence and ability to share the gospel.

So that everyone will hear the good news…

What do you think about the Critical Event? Is it a good measurement of ministry success?

 

After you get thousands of contact cards, what do you do with them?

Alan Mitchell tweeted to me on Friday:

freshmen in dorm room

Question 1: How soon do you start following up?

  • We start immediately. We do the majority of our surveys on Tuesday and Wednesday the first week of class – timed to coincided with our first Cru meeting of the year (on Tuesday) and our freshmen Bible studies in every dorm (on Wednesday). So as they are filling out the survey on Tuesday, we are inviting them to the Cru meeting that night.
  • On Wednesday we get as many student leaders together as possible for a Follow Up Party at 6pm. We feed them dinner and split into groups to pray for the freshmen. Then we hand each dorm (students leading freshmen studies in each dorm) a printout of everyone who checked “I want more info about a Bible study”. The students then call and text everyone on that list and invite them to the freshmen Bible study in their dorm that night at 8pm. At 7pm the students go (with a freshmen escort they’ve met during move-in week) into the dorms and knock on doors of everyone that checked “yes – Bible study” (as well as inviting anyone with their door open).
  • After that initial Tuesday/Wednesday push we spend every afternoon as a staff team in the dorms calling and getting appointments.

Question 2: How do you follow up with them?

Last week, Chris McKinney – Cru MTL (Missional Team Leader) at Mizzou – emailed along the lines of Alan’s second question:

We have had a really hard time getting appointments from cards. Even from the “Yes, Yes, Yes” ones. We text them, email, then text again and try and stop by their dorms. I’m hoping maybe MissionHub will help and it’s been a card organization thing
but I’m kinda stumped. We do about 2000 freshmen surveys at tables so we have a lot. 

I feel like it could be the evidence of a changing culture but also want to see what you’ve experienced and what works well for you. It’s to the point where we celebrate just getting an appointment.

Our team has had similar troubles and have experimented a lot. Let’s pool our wisdom – I’d love to hear what’s working for your teams (in the comments).

Here’s what we’ve come up with on our campus (with pretty good success).

Overall Goals in Follow up

  • Train leaders to do future follow-up (multiplication)
    • Staff do what we are good at – initiate and boldly share the gospel. So our first priority (more important than getting to the freshmen) is actually modeling to our student leaders how to do a follow up (AND how to set up an appointment by boldly making phone calls) so they can then do follow ups on their own and train other students.
    • We then pass off key contacts to students who are good pursuers. As we pair up with student leaders to follow up, the student leaders take the relational baton and are the ones relationally pursuing after the first follow up.
  • Share the Gospel with everyone we meet with (Either they don’t know Jesus or they’re a legit Christian and they want to know about Cru and here is the essence of what we are about)
  • Relationally connect new students to the movement and ultimate goal= get them in a Bible study
    • Getting them in a Bible study usually happens after several more relational touchpoint

 

Making the Call

  • Be bold, assume they want to meet with us (in how we talk to them)
  • Missed call, then send text and tell them you’ll call later (don’t leave a voicemail).
  • Sample:
    • “Hey is this John? Alright cool well this is Erik with Cru. I’m calling because you filled out one of our survey cards at the Chick-fil-A table. Do you remember doing that? Cool well on that card you said that you wanted more info about a Bible study. Are you around right now – I’m in the lobby and would love to grab 15 minutes with you.”
    • If no (insert lame excuse- “nah, I have a class in 40 minutes. I have to take a nap…”) – “OK- I will be on campus tomorrow afternoon and Wednesday. Which one works better for you? Sounds good I will see you then.”

 

General Tips

  • Go in pairs – always take a student with you
  • After modeling it with a student leader, challenge them to take another student tomorrow to do follow up
  • Smile- remember their name
  • Be confident- it’s only as awkward as you make it (you’re setting the norm for their college experience. Everyone in college talks about God!)
  • Have the student leader set up a second “appointment” – basketball tomorrow, “I’ll pick you up for Cru on Tuesday”, “we’re going caving this weekend – want to go?”

You can download our Follow Up Cheat Sheet. It has everything listed above, as well as what we actually say on the appointment (too much content to share here!). Feel free to edit that Word document and make it your own.

I’d love to hear what’s working for your teams – how do you get face to face with freshmen?

 

image courtesy of Zach Dunn

Some great wisdom from Brian McCollister here.

3 Keys for the First Week on Campus

    1. students on denver campusStaff must lead in evangelism. All else must suffer for the sake of getting face to face with freshmen. I tell our staff that your first six discipleship times of the year must be primarily spent in evangelism. If your upper classmen balk at this then that is evidence that you may not be working with the right upper classmen. There ought to be time to develop and teach but evangelism has to happen those 6 times.
    2. If you pay the price in the first six weeks of the year you will reap the rewards for the next four years. If you blow the first six weeks you will pay the price for the next four years. I can tell how well we did in the first six weeks of the last four years by looking at the size of our classes.
    3. Directors must mobilize their best people assets into evangelizing/gathering freshmen into freshmen groups (staff/ student leaders).

We teach that discipleship is doing the right things (doing ministry together, time in the Word, relationally connecting) with the right people (faithful, available, teachable).

Here’s the key: those three things – Ministry/Word/Relationship – don’t have to happen evenly over the year. In other words, the first 6 weeks of the year will be HEAVILY weighted toward doing Ministry together. Talking about life and their summer and the new year as you walk on the way to share your faith. That’s one reason a Leadership Retreat before move-in week is so crucial. It gives your staff time to connect relationally with student leaders before you jump in the trenches together.

I always try to grab one-on-one lunch (Relationship) with each of my staff guys in the calm before the storm of the first 6 weeks because I know that August and September will be heavy on doing ministry together and lighter on Word/Relationship.

What are your thoughts on Brian’s 3 Keys?

 

Some great thoughts from Tim Keller on Evangelism in this video.

Some highlights:

  • If you strictly do Evangelism, the outside world sees it as recruitment, increasing your tribe, a power grab
  • You need to combine Word and Deed.
  • The best way to combine Evangelism and Good Deeds is on a personal level (more difficult to do on a organizational level)
    • You’re not going to love a friend without sharing the Gospel with them. And as a friend you will serve them as there is a need
  • Keller’s two steps for setting up Evangelism:
    1. Let the other person know you go to church
    2. Let the other person know that your Christian faith means something to you, even in passing: “my Christian faith has really helped me here…”
      • There are a lot of simple behaviors that you should be doing, that will lead in a very organic way into deeper spiritual discussion
      • You should be doing the simple behaviors first:
        • Loving and caring for people
        • Being a person of integrity
        • Letting people know that your Christian faith
      • And it will just bubble up naturally
      • I think most people think, I have to find out a way to get the whole gospel out in one conversation or get in a debate about Creation and Evolution. That’s not the way to go. Be simple.
  • He goes on to talk about how sharing the gospel in the city is more complex and requires more skill.

HT: @hanskristensen

 

gospel centered life imageGood news! For the next few months the great folks at New Growth Press are offering Cru staff 50% off of the Gospel-Centered Life Bible Study.

The Gospel-Centered Life study is phenomenal. Incredible heart-probing, Christ-centered content. Click to see a GREAT sample chapter or here for an excerpt on how “The Gospel Propels us Outward”

GCL was written by a couple of former Cru staff – Bob Thune (now a pastor in Omaha) and Will Walker (now pastoring in Austin).

 

We use GCL with all of our freshmen studies every fall. We love it because we can know for certain that freshmen will come out of the fall having clearly heard the gospel EVERY week in Community Group. And it requires almost zero prep for student leaders.

And our plan is to use CGL part 2, Gospel-Centered Community, for all freshmen spring studies. Gospel Centered Community is being released in August and is a great follow up to GCL.

But CGL is not just for freshmen – it’s equally challenging material for upperclassmen studies (and staff!) as well.

We buy leaders guides for all our leaders and participants guides for everyone in our freshmen studies.

 

Here’s how you take advantage of this deal:

Enter the code “CRU” as the Promo Code at newgrowthpress.com or in the World Harvest bookstore [UPDATE: the New Growth site is cheaper than the World Harvest site right now]. Also, if you prefer to call you may give “CRU” as the source code to whoever answers the phone and get the same discount.

 

They’ve asked that only Cru staff use this code so please respect their wishes.

 

Listened to a Matt Chandler sermon a few weeks ago where he gives a phenomenal gospel message to Bible Belt Christians:

For most of us, the former life that we need to proclaim is that we were busy with a thousand religious activities, but we didn’t know the gospel until Jesus saved us. “My former life” is that you were a deacon and Sunday school teacher, but you didn’t know Him. Or our former life needs to be, “I went to church four or five times a year. I went to church Christmas and Easter. I had Christian in my title of who I was, but in reality I had no idea who Jesus was. My life didn’t match up with the gospel calling on my life. I just didn’t know. So in my former life, this is what I treasured and this is what I pursued. And Jesus saved me.”

I think the most difficult group is going to be the group that has been in church a long, long time.

I’m saying that the offer stands, especially for you. For me, is it miraculous when someone in witchcraft comes to know the Lord? – Yes. But it’s just as miraculous, if not maybe more miraculous, when God saves among church folk. Some of them have been inoculated to Jesus: just enough to not need Him. They can talk the language just enough to not understand that they’re way outside of the Kingdom and under a false gospel. Oh, that He might move well in your hearts today.