Archives For Leadership

In Cru, we talk a lot about being “Student Led, Staff Directed”.

But I fear that staff communicate to students, often more by actions than words: “We staff would love to reach this campus on our own but since we don’t have the manpower to do it, we’re gonna need some of you students to help us out.”

bleachersBud Wilkinson, legendary former head coach at OU was once asked, “what contribution does professional football make to the fitness of America?”

He answered: “A professional football game is a happening when 50,000 people desperately in need of exercise sit in the stands watching 22 people desperately needing rest”

I wonder how similar our ministries are to Bud’s description of a football game: Staff running around frantically trying to share our faith, put on weekly meetings, lead 2 Bible studies while students applaud from the sideline.

What’s at stake is more than ministry effectiveness on our campus. We are training students in the Biblical Priesthood of Believers for a lifetime of effective ministry. Is ministry just for an elite, professional class? Or is every Christian a minister/priest/ambassador?

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9

So what exactly is the role of staff in a Student Led ministry?

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 to get 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.

As Steve Sellers said at the National Cru Staff Conference: “Students can do ministry. We can help.”

 

In what ways do you think we, as staff, communicate: “staff can do it, you can help”?

What are some ways your team helps students get onto the playing field?

photo courtesy of Johnny Lucus 

soularium groupSoularium is a pack of 50 pictures that Cru developed for sharing the gospel. It is an especially great tool for sharing the gospel with international students because they can communicate deeper thoughts (via pictures) then they would be able to articulate in English.

Just wanted to share a quick idea of using Soularium picture cards as an Icebreaker as your team plans for the fall.

On our first day back as a team for planning, we spend the majority of the time connecting with each other, sharing about our summers, and talking about how we feel going into the fall.

We pass out Soularium cards and have everyone pick two photos that represent their summer. Each staff then shares for 4-5 minutes about their summer using those two photos. We then ask: “What one card represents how you feel coming into the fall?” We’ve found that it facilitates better (more real) sharing. Having a photo representing their feelings someone helps – staff can share “I’m exhausted” when they might normally gloss over and put up a front.

The Soularium cards are also great for icebreakers for small group Bible studies:

  • “Which photo best describes how your week is going?”
  • “Think about your life so far. Which image best describes what you’ve experienced spiritually?”
  • “As you think about the upcoming year, which picture depicts what you want your walk with God to look at the end of the semester?”

We’ve found that the images are particularly helpful for guys to be able to articulate those mysterious things called “feelings”.

One of the greatest challenges in leading in ministry is finding the balance between planning/strategy and empowering/releasing. I don’t like messy. But I wholeheartedly believe that you have two options: You can either Control or Empower. You can’t do both. Control is orderly. Empowerment is messy.

There’s a lot of wisdom on this topic in a recent post by Jon Hietbrink:

surfingMany organizations run like machines–they thrive on alignment, order, discipline, and consistency, but movements are like organisms–they feed on change, complexity, empowerment, and freedom.

Most of the ministries we lead are some combination of both organization and movement.

I cringe at the inference that anything planned or organized is somehow less influenced by the Spirit [love this sentence!]. That said, I’m increasingly aware of our need as leaders to become experts at calibrating the edge of chaos–we’ll never catch a movement by hanging back in consistently safe places devoid of risk and adventure, but we’ll also never see exponential growth if we go boldly careening over the edge of chaos and into the abyss of confusion and disorder. How then do we navigate this tension? How do we surf the edge of chaos?

As a leader who actually tends toward order and structure, it’s been important for me to embrace the chaos as appropriate and good. If we want movement, it won’t be easy, clean, or predictable, and part of the journey for us as leaders is settling this in our souls–our tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty has to increase.

We must foster environments of interdependence where folks are not just allowed, but encouraged to seek help from any and every source. A mentor of mine used to tell me that the job of a leader is to build “webs, not wheels”– an ever-expanding web of interconnected, interdependent parts, not a wheel where all the spokes connect back to me at the center [great metaphor- webs, not wheels!].

I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

 

How are you learning to surf the edge of chaos as you lead a movement?

 

photo courtesy of chausinho

As you start the fall of college ministry, there are three big things your staff need:

  1. Connect as a family (who) – 71% of Millennials want their coworkers to be a second family
  2. Direction and clarity of role (what) - what does it look like for me/us to succeed?
  3. Vision for reaching college students (why) - “You can pretty much assume that most staff return [in the fall] willing and able but not very motivated and with little or no vision.”

feet on dock

A few helpful starting-the-fall tips for Team Leaders:

  • Encourage staff to get all personal things done before they report back. I usually email something like this:
    • “Please have all your personal stuff done before next week (moving in, raising support, prayer letter, etc) as we will be pretty slammed starting Aug. 8 (so take advantage of the next few days to get all personal stuff done!)”
  • I highly recommend reading this short article - Orienting Your Team
  • Pick staff to fill two key roles: First Week Director and Follow Up Director. This frees the Team Leader to focus on the team/movement instead of the millions of details associated with the First 4 Weeks.
  • Don’t assume that everyone is on the same page as far as Ministry Philosophy. Communicate clearly on how we do things. We have a one page sheet called “How we do Ministry – One Page” which, as you would expect, tells our entire philosophy of ministry on one page!
  • Discuss Team Norms together (how we operate as a team)

 

I think it’s always interesting to see how other teams operate.

Here’s what our planning week looks like:

  • 2 days of planning 9-noon. Afternoons spent working on reserving locations, getting donations from local businesses (for door prizes for cookouts), working in smaller groups with other staff on specific tasks
  • 3 days on a staff retreat (all fun/no work)
  • 2 more days planning 9-noon. Afternoons working on team to-do’s.
  • 2 night student leadership retreat
  • First Cookout and Move in Week activities

Team Leaders- what do you do with your team before the school year begins?

Staff – what are your primary needs going into the year?

 

photo courtesy of  Yasin Hassan – ياسين حسن

hbrSome interesting insights on leading Millennials from Harvard Business Review:

They share well with others (and expect to be shared with):

They are adept at finding information and expect it to be readily available. They are comfortable reaching out directly to people in a way that can be disconcerting to older employees whose workplace relationships have traditionally been constrained by the organization’s hierarchy.

As Nilofer Merchant has observed, social technology is changing the nature of power in organizations.

When you are accustomed to and skilled at finding and freely sharing information, it makes no sense to have information locked up in various parts of an organizational structure. In fact, it feels frustratingly antiquated. What this means for older managers: they must shift from being controllers of information to facilitators of its sharing and collaborative use towards achieving organizational goals.

I love this and think it’s extremely encouraging for the future of world-changing enterprises. Sharing and collaboration FTW.

 

What motivates Millennials is what motivates all employees:

It’s crucial to understand what motivates Millennials. The most powerful tool to build Millennials’ commitment to the organization is this: offering regular opportunities to learn and develop — not just through training, but through a variety of challenging tasks, the opportunity to work with people who impart valuable knowledge, and regular developmental feedback. As it turns out, this is how you build commitment in employees of all ages.

Despite what the stereotype might suggest, effectively engaging Millennials is not about letting employees wear jeans and bring their dogs to work, dude. The key is providing challenging, meaningful work, communicating, helping employees to see their contribution, and making sure they have opportunities to learn and grow.

 

In college ministry, I think we provide ample opportunities for:

  • Challenging, meaningful work
  • Opportunities to learn and develop

I think what we could improve on is “helping them see their contribution”.

Whether this is student leaders or Interns/Staff – we could improve at clearing communicating:

  • “THIS is the meaningful, challenging work that you are doing.”
  • “Here are 4 ways you are going to learn and develop this year.”
  • “Through doing _____ you made a unique contribution and lives were changed eternally.”

A little intentional communication could help Millennials connect the dots in realizing that they actually ARE doing challenging, meaningful work that is making a difference.

 

What are your favorite takeaways from the HBR excerpts?

 

Money to Fund the Mission

December 12, 2011 — 1 Comment

Mark Driscoll tweeted this weekend about a video in which he describes THE game changer in the history of Mars Hill.

A single thing that took them from 40 people to 800. A turning point that made the difference between their church shutting down and being the global influence that it is today through the Acts29 Network and Mark Driscoll’s teaching.

It wasn’t hiring a key staff. Putting on a big outreach. Giving a great sermon. Getting a new website. Him yelling at a bunch of men (that was a different video).

It was money.

A gift from a generous couple – a $200,000 gift that was 100x greater than any gift they’d ever received.

As ministry leaders we spend countless hours thinking through how to reach more people with the gospel. We plan ways to raise up new leaders. Get excited about new books/ideas that could be gamechangers. Dream of new websites that will singlehandedly reach the campus with the gospel. But we rarely think of money.

We just finished a week of planning and money didn’t come up once. I like to think that we can just suck it up and make do with what we have. I rarely, if ever, think “if we had all the money we needed, what would be the most effective way to reach this campus?”

 

Bill Hybels in his book Courageous Leadership calls the lead pastor (and in my case Campus Director) the CRR (Chief Resource Raiser).

He recalls when he first realized the necessity of money to fund the mission: “my romance with the notion of building an Acts 2 church had blinded me to the harsh realities of funding one.”

He goes on to say:

Theologian RC Sproul once asked me how much ministry I thought I could do for a hundred bucks. I assumed he was hoping for some deep theological response, but before I could think of one he answered the question himself, “You can do about a hundred dollars worth.” He was simply making the point that a fruitful ministry requires resources.

Be as theological as you want to be, but the church will never reach her full redemptive potential until a river of financial resources starts flowing in her direction. And like it or not, it is the leader’s job to create that river and to manage it wisely.

 

I just wonder what would change if our ministries and staff were abundantly funded. Imagine what God could do.

 

photo courtesy of Sprengben

 

I love reading articles together as a staff team. There are few better ways to align your team and learn to speak the same language.

They’re short and to the point (at least the good ones are!).

And the articles can be the bad guy- they can speak authoritatively on a topic and staff don’t hear “my director is trying to get us to _____ (share our faith more, do more work)” they hear “that author who is infinitely wise is saying that we should ______”.

Whether your senior staff are reading these ideas for the 10th time or it’s a new staff reading it for the first, foundational ideas need to be over-communicated repeatedly.

It doesn’t always have to be articles, I’ll often print up a bog post (even my own!) to read with our team.

Here are some of the staple articles that have shaped our team (and that we’ll likely be reading this fall):

  • The First Two Weeks– our team reads this every year in preparing for the fall. Really short and to the point. Sets your team’s expectations for the first weeks (16 hour work days!):
    • Gathering Christians, reaching non-Christians…or both?
    • What to do on appointments
    • What to do with returning students
  • Building Movements this article has shaped our movement more than any other. Jim Sylvester shares his considerable wisdom in what it takes to build a thriving movement.
  • Going from 20 to 200 – a shorter and easier to read version of Jim’s principles. 5 principles to grow a small ministry into a thriving movement. This one might be better to read with your team or students than Jim’s.
  • Hearing the Music Of the Gospel – a longer article but so good. Are you carried along by the rhythm of God’s Spirit through his Word or doing the mechanical dance steps of behavioral change? This is a good one to have your team read over an hour of time with God and then come back and discuss as a team.
  • Empowering Staff thru Staff Jobs– great wisdom from Eric Swanson on empowering staff to lead as directors. This fall we just quoted from this article and used the ideas as we communicated to our team on staff jobs – but a great read for team leaders.
    • “Each job is “director level” in that the other staff are subordinate to him or her in this area.”
    • “Each job is “owned” by the staff in charge and is autonomous in its responsibility. If the staff does not carry it out or motivate others to do so, it simply doesn’t get done. No one bails him or her out.”
    • Each staff is expected to be an “expert” in his/her job. He needs to read books, articles, magazines, listen to talks, and interact with other staff from other campus to develop expertise. He or she becomes a resource for the other staff in their area of expertise. You and the other staff may be purposefully ignorant: “I don’t know, but Rabs is the expert in that area.”

What are some of your favorite articles?

Part 3 of a series on Planning for Year 2023 – click to read parts 1 & 2

“Without specific team goals, team members become confused and revert only to what they like to do or want to do. Goals that motivate always contain a ‘stretch element’ to them. In other words, they go beyond what you did last year and cannot be accomplished by simply plugging in last year’s methods and strategies. Most staff would rather fail at attempting something great than to succeed at something mediocre that just feels like failure.”
Eric Swanson

As a new staff, I always found the setting of our team goals to be rather arbitrary:

Team Leader: “OK, we had 50 coming to Cru last year, what should our goal be this year team?”

Staff 1: “I think we’ll have 75 this year”

Staff 2: “Why?”

Staff 1: “I don’t know – because 75 is a little more than 50?”

Staff 2: “Where’s your faith? Let’s add a zero! We’re going to have 500 this year!”

Staff 1: “You’re an idiot”

Staff 2: “No, I have faith”

Team Leader: “Ok, 60 it is.”

Staff 3 (me) texts to staff 4: “SMH” (that is, if we’d had cell phones back then)

 

So how in the world do you set goals that are full of faith AND realistic?

We’ve found the steps Jim Sylvester lays out to be very helpful. We rely VERY heavily on this model for our yearly goals. And it’s uncanny how accurate it has been for us, year after year.

At the end of his (119 page!) article Principles God Honors, Jim lays out a Step By Step Growth of a Movement.

Jim’s proven timeline has helped us set incredibly faith-stretching goals that are based in reality.

 

I’ll list out the years (with his descriptions of each year) below. A couple questions to ask yourself/your team:

  • What year are we currently in?
  • What should be our goals for this year be?
  • What will it take to make those goals a reality?

 

I would love to know – how does your team determine numerical goals?

 

Jim Sylvester’s Step by Step Growth of a Movement

His caveat: “This is merely a model from our campus at Ohio State. This is to he adapted to each unique campus. On a campus where Greeks are the most dominant social group, one would target Freshman Greeks very heavily. On our campus we found the dorms and RAs as the dominant social group, so we started there.”

 

Year One

  • Staff Team – Make sure staff team is on board in areas of ministry philosophy and commitment level.
  • Commitment – make sure staff are using their time wisely (i.e. 35 “hot hours”)
  • Reality is my friend. Time is my friend.
  • Working with students is messy. Since we are committed to working with students, we are willing to live with messy.

 

Year Two

  • Create a socially sharp atmosphere. Seek to bring leaders and other socially sharp individuals into the movement. Socially sharp individuals visible at meetings; make the atmosphere attractive and comfortable with quality activities. There has to be an atmosphere where men feel comfortable – AIA emphasis etc.

 

Year Three – Foundational Freshmen Class

  • These will be the leaders of the movement in 2-3 years. The entire movement is focused on the Freshman class.
  • Freshmen class of 80
  • This takes 120 Freshmen entering Freshmen studies in September
  • The gospel shared individually with about 1,500 Freshmen.
  • In the first 4 weeks, staff share Christ with 50 new students.
  • A student planned and student run movement

 

Year Four – Movement Maker Class

  • 80 freshmen who will return 40 strong as sophomores
  • 120 or more students attending weekly meeting.
  • Send 25 students on summer projects. (High percent from foundational class.)

 

Year Five – The Over-the-Hill class

  • 100 freshmen in discovery groups by the end of the year.
  • Cru meeting over 200.
  • Presence in all the dorms.
  • Movements starting in the Geek system, athletes, band, international students, and ethnic minorities.
  • 40 Students going on summer projects.
  • 40 + Students leading successful small groups.
  • Expansion campuses a major focus; they feel absolutely a part of the whole.
  • Hearts that pray – a prayer movement in place.
  • Ownership and love for the partnership country.
  • Students want and value training. 60-80 students come to training.
  • Student ownership runs deep.

 

Year Six

  • Win a Freshman class of 160
  • 300 people at Cru meeting.
  • 300 students involved in small group Bible studies.
  • Daily Prayer drawing 25 students; as large as 50 for Praise God Its Friday.
  • 50 students going on summer projects.
  • Students involved from every segment of campus.
  • Expansion campuses now flourishing, we’re now on 1 campus for every two of our staff.
  • A rich love for Jesus permeates movement.
  • Students are sacrificial for the cause.
  • Movement has a heart for laborers.
  • Praying for awakening and God’s hand in our movement.
  • Burdened for the lost and the needs of the world.
  • Model student leaders and spokesmen.
  • Students are captured by the campus vision & our potential for impacting the world.

 

Year Seven

  • 400 + at Cru.
  • 400 students in small groups.
  • Win a freshmen class that will return 100 involved sophomores (i.e. 200 freshmen in groups in April)
  • 60+ students going on summer projects stateside and worldwide.
  • Our expansion campuses have movements of over 50 and feel a part of the whole.
  • 10 seniors graduate and come on our staff or go on stint, 5 other students go into full-time ministry or seminary.
  • Continue previously mentioned health characteristics.
  • Major presence in the Greek system, with athletes, African Americans, Internationals.

 

Year Eight – The Saturation Freshmen Class

  • Win the Freshmen Class of 300 that will return 150 sophomores
  • Unless you are on a campus of greater than 40,000 students, this class will see the campus reach saturation before they graduate.

 

Year Nine

  • Win a freshman class of 400 (200 return as sophomores)
  • In every segment of the university
  • Totally visible throughout the university community.
  • Present in the areas of influence of this university.
  • 75 Seniors – 20% graduate into full-time Christian work, 100 jrs, 150 soph, 400 fish
  • Touching the world; laborers going to every culture.

 

Year Ten

  • A freshmen class that returns 250 sophomores
  • 80 seniors, 150 juniors, 200 sophomores, 500 freshmen
  • 200 students seeing multiplication
  • Impacting the entire State
  • Each of our classes is growing because evangelism is extensive throughout University
  • 100 students meeting daily for prayer

 

Year Eleven

  • 150 Seniors
  • 240 Juniors
  • 275 Sophomores
  • 600 freshmen (1265 in small groups)
  • Saturating Greek system, dorms, athletes, internationals, African Americans

 

Year Twelve – The Dream Come True

  • Cru: 1,000
  • 200 seniors, 250 juniors, 300 sophomores, 600 freshmen
  • 40 students going into full-time Christian work, 20 of those joining staff/going on stint
  • 80 graduating satellite campus students, 20 of whom go into full-time Christian work.

 

photo courtesy of Untitled blue 

I’ve posted thoughts on this before, but this is really good:

(via Matt Perman)

Quotes from it:

  • I read one or two leadership books a month out of sheer discipline
  • I don’t ask myself if I feel like reading another book
  • I NEED to read
  • I have to take responsibility
  • I have some people that I have been given charge to lead well
  • I have to read to get better as a leader
  • I’m asking you: Take responsibility for your leadership development and read more
  • I’m asking you to get around other leaders who are better than you
  • Every 30 days, ask “who can I get lunch or dinner with?”
  • “Who can I get around who’s been where I haven’t been. And how can I ask them the right questions to stretch myself and get better?”

A few takeaways:

  • I need to figure out how to do this better – I think maybe cutting out internet before bed. For some reason the Kindle app on the iPad has helped me do this more (read instead of surf).
  • I plan on having my team watch this – to continue to reinforce a culture of self-development. I talked to a Cru staff member this summer who read 20 books on building movements last fall (in one semester!)! He takes this seriously.
  • I try to seize opportunities to meet with leaders during the summer (especially at Staff Conference) but I wonder what this looks like during the busyness of the year?

What do you think? What are your takeaways?

These two posts should be required reading for any Christian on Twitter:

  • John Mayer cautions us to be careful in seeking out “joy in little, tiny statements – little, tiny applause hits.”
  • And John Piper responds to John Mayer with some wise words on using Twitter for the glory of God.

Though I don’t personally care for John Mayer’s music (yes, I understand he’s a gifted musician – just not my style), I have tremendous respect for his thoughtful approach to social media. It takes tremendous conviction to delete a Twitter account with 4 million followers.

John Mayer shares, “I realized about a year ago that I couldn’t have a complete thought anymore. I was a tweetaholic. I had four million twitter followers, and I was always writing on it.”

So, to avoid the temptation of publishing himself and to increase his mental capacity for creativity, Mayer deleted his twitter and stopped blogging.

His discipline and insight are remarkable. There’s a lot we can learn from him as we pursue a greater cause than music.

So should we all stop Tweeting? I’d say no.

 

John Piper has a very wise response:

Mayer said, “I couldn’t have a complete thought anymore.” To me this is almost the opposite of what happens. But that may depend on what we aim to do with Twitter.

Tweets do not diminish my ability to have a complete thought, they demand it. That’s what a Tweet is—a thought that is complete enough to press some God-focused truth into someone’s consciousness.

This kind of tweeting does not distract from thinking. It demands thinking. A peculiar kind of thinking—thinking that is capacious, concise, and compelling. [yes he defines capacious in his post!]

If I did not know a great God and a great Savior and a great Life and a great Plan, I would not bother writing Tweets—or books. But if God can be spoken of meaningfully in a 300 page book, he can also be spoken of in a 30-minute sermon, and a three line Tweet. All efforts to speak of the Infinite make our little differences between long and short irrelevant.

 

John Piper’s original post on why he started Tweeting in the first place is well-worth reading:

He responds to those who negatively/accurately say:

“These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.”

With,

“Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.”

 

Piper’s final thoughts on Twitter are profound:

“All things were created through Christ and for Christ” (Colossians 1:16). The world does not know it, but that is why Twitter exists and that’s why I Tweet.”

 

How have you fought against seeking “joy in tiny applause from tiny statements”?
What is your goal for using Twitter or other social media?

 

images courtesy of P Keigan and Micah_68