Archives For Ministry

It’s Harvest Time

August 9, 2018 — Leave a comment

As we head into the most critical weeks in college ministry – the first few weeks of the fall – this is great to read and discuss with your team.

We all have a vague awareness that Harvest Time is a critical period in farming. But what exactly does it entail?

Here are two snapshots of the importance and urgency of harvest season in modern farming communities:

Day in the Life of Harvest, Perspective of a Farm Wife

We can’t harvest when it’s still dewy and moist outside, because wet crops clog the equipment, so our day usually begins around 8 or 8:30 in the morning.

We take that time to fuel up the trucks and harvest equipment, making sure everything is in the right place. Once we start each day, we work as long as we can.

Most days, that means people are in combines and trucks until as late as midnight. We keep a healthy stock of energy drinks on hand to help keep our team motivated and alert.

During harvest, we have come to expect the unexpected. We are running combines with thousands of moving parts. Breakdowns and replacements are expected. And even though we expect them to happen, they can sometimes be a big deal.

Harvest is a special time of year for us. It’s our main project where we get to see all the work we did up to that point. We also get our one paycheck, so it’s a really big deal.

What parallels do you see to college ministry?

WHY DOES HARVEST HAPPEN SO FAST?

It seems like farmers are in a race to get harvest finished. You might hear about farmers working from dawn until well after sunset – sometimes working 18 hour days or longer – to get their crops harvested. Why does harvest happen so fast?

 

Everything sort of shuts down in rural America during harvest season. [There’s still counties in America that call off school for the weeks of harvest – in one county in Maine, schools are closed Sept. 21 until Oct. 10.]

But what’s the big rush? THE CROPS ARE READY

Farmers wait until their crops reach a certain stage of dryness to harvest them. This means that moisture content inside the corn kernel or soybean (or any other crop like wheat, canola, or sunflowers) has to be just right – low enough, but not too low. Farmers are watching and waiting for these plants to be dry enough before they harvest them.

 

If soybean plants get too dry, there can be big problems. The bean pods can open and the soybeans will fall out onto the ground. Have you ever tried to pick popcorn kernels out of your carpet? That’s what it’s like when soybeans fall onto the ground… except the soybeans are well-camouflaged against the dirt. Which means that they are lost. If the pods do stay closed, the beans can get so dry that they shatter into tiny pieces when they are harvested. Those pieces are lost, as well.

 

Farmers have a very small window when they can harvest their crops. When the plants say they are ready and the weather is cooperating, it’s time to go, no matter what else is going on.

Again- What similarities do you see to the first weeks of the fall in college ministry?

Paul Worcester sums it up well in his 2014 article on CampusMinistryToday.org:

Every year countless new students flood onto college campuses. Proverbs 10:5 says,“A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during the harvest is a disgrace.” College ministry has very clear seasons; the beginning of each semester is harvest time. It’s not time to work on your support raising. It’s not time to catch up on your reading. Eternity is hanging in the balance. It’s not time to find a balance in your schedule. There’s a field of new students waiting to be harvested. Will you harvest them? Or will you sleep through it?

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?

 

4278335002_3e90e703c3_mNothing has been better for my consistency in God’s Word- leading to greater intimacy with God and understanding of Him- than reading through the Bible each of the last two years.

 

I think the reason it is so helpful is simple, in the words of Robert Murray M’Cheyne:
“Time will not be wasted in choosing what portions to read. Here the question will be solved at once in a very simple manner.”

 

That’s it. Not having to decide what I’m going to read every morning- I just open up and let the calendar tell me what to read – is enough to reduce the friction on the tracks to get me going.

 

Some tips and helpful tools:
  • Use a plan where you read from multiple parts of the Bible every day- that keeps you from getting bogged down in more difficult books (I’m looking at you Major Prophets). The Navigators and Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Bible Reading Plan are excellent. The Navs plan has 25 days/month to give you some grace days. M’Cheyne’s method is everyday and reads through the NT and Psalms twice in a year, which I modify to read the NT and Psalms only once – which makes it more like 2-3 chapters/day instead of 4 which I find to be more doable.
  • I highly recommend DA Carson’s For the Love of God Volumes I & II. Carson provides commentary and reflections on each day’s scriptural passages in the M’Cheyne plan. I just wake up and open up For the Love of God on my Kindle. It tells me what to read, and then gives me a brief commentary on what I read. It’s almost always insightful, and always short. For the Love of God is also available for free online.
  • My wife uses Dr. Constable’s FREE online Bible commentary as she reads through the Bible. Constable’s commentary is an unbelievable gift to the body of Christ – most commentaries are either unhelpful because they are:
    • too obvious/short or
    • too long/intense/parsing Greek
Dr. Constable’s is like a best-of-commentary: he does all the heavy lifting, reading all the commentaries and presenting to you the best of what he found to be helpful. He’s my go-to commentary when I don’t understand a passage and he almost never disappoints. Just google “Constable Philippians” or whatever book you’re reading and it will be the first Google result.
  • The Bible Project has phenomenal, short (8 minute) summary videos for every book in the Bible. They illuminate how each book of the Bible tells one story of redemption through Christ.
  • You don’t have to start at the beginning of the year in January. And you don’t even have to finish the Bible in a calendar year (though it IS very doable; and having a measure of my progress spurs me on to keep going and not fall behind).
  • I’ve written a short 2 page article on Spending Time Daily in God’s Word that gives a little more re the why’s and how’s.
I’ve had several friends push back on reading through the Bible in a year (RTtBiaY). They’ve said that it led them to duty instead of delight. They felt that they were merely checking boxes, rushing through the daily reading to get it done.

 

All I can say is that it has had the opposite effect for me. Maybe it’s personality differences. For me, RTtBiaY has been incredibly motivating and life giving. I’ve found it also helps to give yourself plenty of time: if you only have 15 minutes to read, RTtBiaY will feel like duty and a checklist. But if you have 30min-hour, you can really soak in the Scriptures.

 

I’ve found a regular time in God’s Word, making regular process plodding through the entire Bible does not produce a rut but freedom. John Piper offers great insight on routine and structure in your Quiet Time:
“If your longing is to be spontaneous in the way you commune with God, then build discipline into your Bible reading and prayer. It sounds paradoxical. But it’s no more so than the paradox of corn spontaneously growing in a Minnesota field because of the farmer’s discipline of plowing and sowing and guarding the field. He doesn’t make the corn grow. God does. But God uses his farming disciplines as part of the process. The rich fruit of spontaneity grows in the garden that is well tended by the discipline of schedule.”

 

Tim Keller, John Piper, my wife… All the great spiritual giants recommend RTtBiaY as a daily Quiet Time plan.

 

My only regret is that I haven’t been doing this for the past two decades that I’ve been walking with God. Early on in walking with God I read through the Bible annually. But somewhere along the way I stopped.

 

May we see Jesus more clearly in 2017 as we soak in God’s Word this year!

 

What tools and tips do you have that have helped you read God’s Word?

 

photo courtesy of Dwight Stone via Flickr

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.

Becoming a sending movementThis is part of a series on Sending

Click to read the Intro and for a list of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses (with links to each post)

We have a strategic advantage in recruiting to work with us in full time ministry.

We have what Millennials want – meaningful work

“If you want to inspire the next generation of workers–and attract them to your company–new research shows that nothing works like a rock-solid mission statement.” – Zoe Henry

72 percent of Millennials are eager to join a non-profit organization because they want their work to matter (source: 2013 Millennial Impact Research Report). 6 out of 10 said that a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer. (source: Deloitte survey)

 

“Young people are asking what their purpose is now, and they’re determined to find the opportunities, organizations, and companies that share their purpose. A recent study by Net Impact showed that the millennial generation expects to make a difference in the world through their work, and more than half of millennials would take a 15% pay cut to do work for an organization that matches their values.

We aren’t the “me me me generation.” We’re a group of determined individuals who refuse to settle because we know how great our impact can be when we find work we truly care about.” – Adam Poswolsky in his book “The Quarter-Life Breakthrough”

What do Millennials want from a company?

  • Meaningful work – for a cause they are passionate about
  • To work around people they like
  • Opportunity for growth
  • To be a vital part of a team

Fast Company “suggests that companies focus on the non-monetary forms of compensation that they can offer, like a sense of purpose, opportunities for growth, and a quality work culture. Job descriptions should take pains to highlight these benefits as well. Instead of focusing purely on the nuts and bolts of a position’s requirement, they can attract socially minded candidates by pointing out the company’s larger social impact and its unique opportunities for growth.”

What do Millennials want from their lives? A recent survey revealed that being wealthy is at THE BOTTOM of their life aspiration list. More important?

  • spending time with family
  • growing and learning new things
  • working for the betterment of society
  • having many good friends

We need the best and brightest to solve the world’s toughest problems.

Good insight from the Insider’s Guide to Finding Meaningful Work and Attracting Top Talent:

Understanding what it would take to encourage more top talent to commit themselves to impact careers is taking on greater importance and urgency as we need the best and the brightest working to solve the world’s toughest problems.

Despite Millennials’ keen interest in meaningful work, many are not choosing to pursue impact careers.

A recent survey conducted in the US indicated that only 18% of college graduates intend to enter the non-profit or teaching fields. If Millennials are to fill the growing number of employment opportunities in the impact sector, more needs to be done to convert their interest into action. Promoting the impact sector as a viable career option will involve dispelling sector stereotypes by providing better information on impact career opportunities. [This is especially crucial in helping parents see College Ministry as a viable career]

For new grads especially, compensation is taking on greater importance as student debt increases. A job with a salary that allows the employee to pay down their student loans is critical for many people, and the absence of such a salary may dissuade top talent from choosing an impact career.

With Jesus’ last words he laid at our feet the world’s most important and toughest problem: bring the hope of the Gospel to every corner of the world. We need the best and the brightest graduates to be working to solve the world’s toughest problem.

We need the campus’s brightest minds tackling the challenge of the Great Commission.

I think we can learn from John Deere – watch how they’re seeking to connect to Millennials who want meaningful work:

“Here you can continuously advance your career while advancing the technologies that will build a better world.”
“Any company can give you a mission statement. Here, we give you an honest to goodness mission.”
“You’ve always dreamt of changing the world… Here. It’s no dream.”
“Here the world’s brightest minds are tackling the world’s biggest challenges.”

Any company can give you a mission statement. Join us if you actually want a mission.

Come reach the students who will change the world.

“The University is the clear cut fulcrum with which to move the world…More potently than by any other means, change the university and you change the world.” – Dr. Charles Malik, former Sec. General of the United Nations

The Top Sending Campuses

This is part of a series on Sending

Click to read the Intro and for a list of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses (with links to each post)

Sending Starts with Staff

From my research, one of the best ways to be a sending campus is to have a sending team. Not to just have one person on the team who is passionate for the world or is a Global Missions coordinator. But to have an entire team that is passionate about raising up laborers to go to the world.

How do you create that?

You need to put just as much thought into recruiting your staff as you do recruiting your students. Your staff need to be aligned to the needs of the world and the need to Send. If your team really believes in Sending, sending students will naturally happen.

A Team of Once and Future STINTers

The surest way to have a sending team is for it to be made up of once and future STINT’ers (a STINT is a one to two year internship; or for staff, a one or two year service overseas). Send students on STINT and many will come back to your team. Don’t have any ex-STINTers on your team? Send your current staff on STINT. Sure you’ll miss them. But the benefits are tremendous –

  • They will go and hopefully take tons of graduating students with them on STINT
  • They will come back with a passion for the immense needs of the world (and will likely be better leaders)

A Team of Go-ers – “Come With Me!”

The next best thing to STINT (and slightly less daunting) is getting everyone on your team to your partnership countries.

On our campus, we want every staff/intern to go to one of our partnership countries in their first 2 years on the team (either on a 10 day Vision Trip or Summer Mission).

We also want to set a norm on our team that most staff will go on one of our three Summer Missions partnerships EVERY summer:

  • East Asia
  • Ethiopia
  • San Diego

Our staff are actively seeking to lead our Summer Missions partnerships (both internationally and stateside).

“Come with me” is far more powerful than “you should go”. We’ve noticed a HUGE difference in the number of students who will go if we have our staff or key students leading a project (vs when they are being led by other campuses’ staff). HUGE.

Incidentally, your team is going to need to raise some individual support. It’s going to cost them money to lead Vision Trips and Summer Missions. Build MPD into your team’s schedule. Cast vision for how healthy support enables your team to make decisions based not on “how much is that going to cost?” but “what is the best use of my life for the sake of the gospel?”

 

A Learning Team

Constantly keep the needs of the world in front of your team by having a weekly focus on Sending in your staff meeting:

Take advantage of technology:

  • Regularly Skype your STINT’ers into your staff meeting
  • Skype in visionary leaders who bleed for the world
  • Skype in leaders from the Northeast or Northwest of the U.S. who can cast vision for the needs of those areas

Read together:

These are great to print out and read with your staff team. Because sending starts with staff.

Read and Discuss Passages of Scripture on Sending:

Work through this devotional together – The Antioch Movement in Acts by Brian McCollister

  • Within 20 years Christianity had spread to Asia Minor and Europe
  • The spread of the gospel can be traced clearly to the church at Antioch
  • Church in Antioch likely founded by 35 AD – sending out missionaries by 45 AD
  • Antioch serves as a model of a first century movement

Read and discuss Matthew 9:37-38

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

  • What is the world’s greatest need? The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • But what did Jesus say? The Harvest is plentiful…but what? The bottleneck is not that people won’t listen and accept the gospel.

Read and discuss Romans 10:14-15

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?”

 

Commit to getting better at Sending by putting it on your strategic plan:

Noralea, the MTL at OU, shares how they became a sending campus:

I remembered that back in 2010-2012 our strategic plan had “create a culture of sending” as one of our three main path steps. It was a huge part of what our team spent two years focusing on and I really believe that God cause the growth and we’re seeing the effects now of focusing on it for two years 4 years ago. The culture has shifted and being sent with Cru or into the workplace is more of a “norm” or strength of the OU movement than it used to be.

Read more about what their sending looks like now.

Watch a short 5 minute Video together and discuss it for 10 minutes:

*HT to Dan Allan for finding these videos

  • John Deere
    • How is John Deere seeking to connect to Millennials who want meaningful work?
      • “here you can continuously advance your career while advancing the technologies that will build a better world.”
      • “any company can give you a mission statement. Here, we give you an honest to goodness mission.”
      • “You’ve always dreamt of changing the world. Here. It’s no dream.”
      • “Here the world’s brightest minds are tackling the world’s biggest challenges.”
    • What stands out to you in this video?
    • How do they cast vision and present their opportunity?
    • How do you express the need that we’re trying to meet?
    • Who is motivated to join with us, and why?
  • An Ohio State football coach casts vision for the program and the legacy and privilege of being part of Buckeye football
    • The actual speech starts about the 2 minute mark and lasts for about 5 minutes. Here’s a link to the written copy of the speech
      • What stands out to you in this video?
      • How do they cast vision and present their opportunity?
      • How do you express the need that we’re trying to meet?
      • Who is motivated to join with us, and why?

What has helped your team become a Sending Team?

The Top Sending Campuses

This is part of a series on Sending

Click to read the Intro and for a list of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses (with links to each post)

From 2004 to 2011 Thomas Weakley conducted a survey of all new Cru staff in order to find key factors that motivate and influence Cru Staff members to go into full time ministry (the survey was initially part of Thomas’s doctoral dissertation).
Here is a summary of his findings:
Question #1: What are the identifiable theological factors that motivate and influence Cru staff members to accept the calling of God and enter vocational Christian service?
  • Only 11% had a sudden “damascus road” call to ministry. 89% had more of a progressive (over time) calling
    • Females seem to value the process over time and their leading appears to be more intuitive than males.
    • Men seemed to value the need for a more logical choice in the decisions than females.
  • Thomas’s Key Takeaway:
    • More teaching and seminars on the “calling of God” from a biblical and historical perspective need to be implemented.
Staff were asked what theological reasons motivated them to join staff:
  • Lostness of Man
  • Eternal Perspective
  • Lordship of Christ
  • Stewardship of Life
  • Great Commission
  • Spiritual Calling
Of these, Great Commission and Eternal Perspective were the biggest theological factors. Stewardship of Life was last.
Question #2: In what ways, if any, did personal relationship factors motivate and influence Cru staff members to accept the calling of God and enter vocational Christian service?
They were given these options:
  • Current Church
  • Small Group
  • Peers
  • Parental
  • Mentor
  • Professional Minister
Thomas found Peers and Mentor to be the two most influential by far.
“Ones gender did seem to impact their ranking of the relational factors. Females rated their small group and parents significantly more than males. Males rated the professional minister significantly more than females. “
Surprisingly, parents are the least important factor. Some of Thomas’ hypotheses:
  • Younger adults may place a greater value upon other adults (the Cru staff mentor) replacing the parental influence.
  • Parents may devalue the Parachurch organization due to their child’s responsibility to raise their personal finances for ministry.
  • Current Society may have influenced parents to devalue the role of the minister.
  • 82% of staff made a significant life change in college, thus parents were not part of the decision!
Thomas’s Key Takeaway:
  • Consider recruitment and placement of new staff in a relational context with their peers.
Question 3: In what ways, if any, did mentoring factors motivate and influence Cru staff members to accept the calling of God and enter vocational Christian service?
They were given four categories:
  • Intensive Staff; Occasional Staff, Intensive Peer, Occasional Peer,
And asked to rank the influence from 0-5 of mentoring relationship. Here’s the breakdown by gender:
Weakley mentor influence gender
Thomas’s Key Takeaways:
  • “The value placed upon Intensive staff mentoring may imply that the lifestyle, character and calling of Cru staff is very attractive to young adults. It is significantly higher than all other categories. “
  • “Since females respond well to peer mentoring incorporate more peer mentoring in the development of females.”
  • “Encourage the mentoring of males by Cru staff. – Provide greater and more frequent opportunities for men to be exposed to male Cru staff mentors.”
Question #4: What are the identifiable ministry experiences of Cru staff during college and in what ways did these ministry experience factors motivate and influence the staff member to accept the Calling of God and enter vocational Christian service?
New staff indicate that prior ministry experiences with Cru were the most significant influencers toward them joining staff
The top 5 ministry experiences which influenced people to join staff are (in order) –
  1. STINT
  2. Interning
  3. International summer missions
  4. US summer missions
  5. Leading a small group on campus.
“Long term experiences (BS leader and Ministry success) rank high among females due to the holistic perspective of females.”
Question #5: What category of Motivational factors had the greatest influence upon the Cru staff member accepting the call of God to enter vocational Christian service?
So, of the aforementioned categories (Questions 1-4), which is the trump card?
Ranked from most influential to least (across all years):
  1. Ministry Experience
  2. Relational
  3. Theological
  4. Mentoring
In 2011 (his most recent year of research) Relational had edged ahead of Ministry Experience as most influential reason for joining staff.
One thing I’m not super clear on – isn’t mentoring essentially the same as relational?

What are your key takeaways?

The Top Sending Campuses

This is part of a series on Sending

Click to read the Intro and for a list of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses (with links to each post)

I want to raise up long term college ministers who will change the world for decades to come.
So one of my lingering, pragmatic questions has been: “Which is better for raising up long term staff – recruiting to Stateside or the World?”
In the Cru world, I wondered:

Which yields more long term staff: STINT or Internships?

(STINT= is an overseas 1-2 year internship)

If our ultimate aim is to raise up long term staff, is it better for graduates to serve with us for a year or two, or for them to go overseas? Where should we invest our recruiting efforts?
Though the data is a little dated (2011), Thomas Weakley found:

The top 5 ministry experiences which influenced people to join Cru staff are (in order) –

  1. STINT
  2. Interning
  3. International Summer Missions
  4. U.S. Summer Missions
  5. Leading a small group on campus.
So STINT was more influential than Interning. International Summer Missions were more impactful than U.S. Summer Missions.
I asked Jim Rhodes, Cru’s national intern coordinator, what he has found. He has some great (and current) stats:
This past year, for Cru nationally…
  • 75% of our U.S. Interns stayed with us. This means they continued in their employment with us as either Staff, a 2nd year internship, or as Part Time Field Staff (PTFS)
    • Of the 75%:
      • 24% joined staff
      • 38% signed on for a 2nd Year of Interning
      • 6% transitioned to a part-time or Affiliate status
  • 59% of our STINTers stayed with us.  (Same meaning as above)
  • Overall … 68 % of our combined U.S. Interns and non-staff STINTers stayed with us
    • 22% of our Interns and STINTers joined staff this past year
    • 46% re-interned or went PTFS
    • 32% left our employ
So 24 % of the Interns joined staff … 19% of the STINTers joined staff.
I asked Jim: “One thing I’m trying to figure out – when it comes to raising up long term staff, is it “better” to recruit to STINT or Internship (i.e. – which one yields more staff).”
He responded:
I think recruiting to both is honestly the best answer to your question.  Transition to Staff rates are currently higher for U.S. Interns than for STINT, but my observation is that the leadership qualities of the STINTers who come on staff are higher. Both rates are well below are goals.  As a goal we are shotting to have 33% of both our STINTers and our U.S. Interns joining staff each year.  Our vision is to grow to the point where we are sending 1 out of 3 on staff … another 1 out of 3 staying with us for a 2nd year … and sending the final 1 out of 3 into the marketplace as part of 100% sent.  Currently, we are seeing 2 out of 3 stay with us each year … but we want to see one of those 2 joining staff each year and we are not quite there yet.
So the stats say Internship is higher yielding.
Historically (according to staff self reporting what motivated them to join), STINT has been more influential.
UPDATE: A few guesses as to why the disparity:
  • Things have likely changed since 2011. Maybe internships have gotten better?
  • Jim’s retention stats could be a little skewed because of the Part Time Field Staff. I just wonder if that skews the stats higher for Internships. Because I would guess very few STINT’ers transition to PTFS. Whereas for an intern staying in the same town, it’s more likely they’d do PTFS.

My take:

I would agree with Jim – people coming off of STINT are probably higher quality leaders. They’ve had to be self-starting leaders who solved complex problems in a cross-cultural context.
As a team, we want to be a sending campus. And from my research, one of the best ways to be a sending campus is to have a sending team. The surest way to have a sending team is for it to be made up of once and future STINT’ers.

What are your takeaways?

The Top Sending Campuses

This is the part 5 in a series of posts summarizing key findings from researching 17 of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses in the nation.

See the Intro for a full list of all the campuses profiled (and links to each).

 

It’s one thing to take all of this in. To hear what these Top Sending Schools are doing and think, “Well, that’s great. Good for them.”

The next step is to consider: “What does our campus need to implement from these Top Sending Schools?”

I thought it might be helpful to share with you what we have implemented on our campus at the University of Arkansas, since I’ve talked to these schools over the last couple years.

We’re taking baby steps toward sending. We’re learning it takes years, not months, to correct our course. I would guess it will take about 5 years – to see a freshmen class raised up under a culture of sending.

“You are changing the culture of your movement not just getting people to sign up. This will take time, intentionality and prayer.”

 

What we’ve implemented from the Top Sending Campuses (in order of impact):

  • If you’re not sending it’s probably because you as the director don’t really believe in sending
    • This was my biggest realization.
    • I have had very few game-changing epiphanies in my time as a director. I can only think of three:
      1. Discovering Movement Building – reading this little article gave me incredible clarity on what it looks like for me to succeed in my job in college ministry.
      2. Discovering the Secret of Success for Fund Raising Dinners
      3. And this: If you’re not sending it’s probably because you as the director don’t really believe in sending
    • If you would have asked me a few years ago why we don’t send more, I would have listed out 10 things students need to be doing: we need to get more students on Summer Mission, students need to care more about the world, etc, etc
    • I can distinctly remember sitting down last fall with Brian White, Cru MTL (Missional Team Leader) at Texas A&M. I asked Brian: “How are y’all so good at recruiting?” He immediately and politely corrected me: “We don’t recruit. Sending is who we are.”
    • It’s not a matter of semantics. For Texas A&M it’s not recruiting. It’s in their DNA. It’s the air they breathe as a staff team and movement.
    • More specifically, it’s Brian’s DNA. Brian eats/drinks/sleeps sending to the World.
    • I just sat there and got schooled for the next hour in what it looks like for an MTL to bleed for the world. Brian lives to send to the world.
    • Realizing that sending starts with the MTL was a game changer.
    • “As the leader, as the mouthpiece, you need to be telling the stories and leading from experience.” – Brian White
    • It’s why I’m sitting in a hotel in East Asia as I write this. Because if I don’t go, I won’t bleed for the world. I can’t bleed for a country I’ve never been to. So I’m here seeing what God is doing. Asking God to break my heart for this country. Meeting with the national staff to hear what their vision for their country is. Going on campus to do ministry.
    • That is by far the most impactful takeaway for me personally, and hopefully for our movement: I as the MTL need to go and personally own sending
    • “Our movements always reflect our leaders’ passions. If I’m asking how do I change the movement, I need to ask, what do I need to change? I need to ask – how passionate am I about it? What am I teaching? What am I talking about? Am I living this out? Are we highlighting it?” – Bacho, MTL at Ohio State
    • A corollary: My co-MTL and I need to be the ones challenging students to join with us:
      • “I had to learn as an MTL: My words carry a lot of weightI’m looking people in the eye and I’m saying: ‘I’d really like you to be on our team’”
  • Our family is committing to going overseas on Summer Mission every three years
    • It’s an extension of the previous point, but our family is planning on going on Summer Mission next summer to East Asia.
    • It costs a small fortune for my family to go anywhere. We have 5 kids.
    • family.001But in talking to Brian White and his wife Erin (Cru leaders at A&M), they would say that one of THE keys to them sending so many students into full time ministry has been their family going overseas every three years (and they have 4 kids – pictured (a long time ago!) to the right).
    • My oldest kid is 13 and we have NEVER taken them overseas on a Cru Summer Mission. I honestly didn’t feel like it was a good investment of God’s money to spend close to $30,000 for 1 of us to work full time on campus (my wife is working full time with Cru but would spend 95% of her time keeping up with 5 kids!). So we’ve never done it. I’ve taken a couple vision trips on my own, but our family has never gone.
    • But as I sat down with Brian and Erin White, I was convinced. They showed me a picture of a Summer team they took to East Asia 5 years ago. Something like 13 of the 15 students are interning or on staff with Cru now. That’s not a bad batting average. And both Erin and Brian pointed to the students really connecting with their family and coming back to College Station and continuing to be close to their family.
    • Why every three years? Not exactly sure! We’re just following the White’s wisdom here! I would guess because: It IS expensive and because there are other needs some summers (MPD, seminary, sabbatical)
  • Staff owning it
    • Again, this is an extension of the first point.
    • We’re not sending because our staff 1) Aren’t going and 2) Aren’t passionate about sending
    • “The main mouthpieces of the movement need to be speaking of the partnership from first hand experience. Vision trips or summer projects every few years are great ways to keep things fresh for those who are casting vision.” – Texas A&M
    • So a few things we’re implementing as a team:
      • We want every staff/intern to go to one of our partnerships in their first 2 years on the team (either on a Vision Trip or Summer Mission)
      • Our staff are actively seeking to lead our Summer Missions partnerships (both internationally and stateside)
        • Previously, we were pretty hands off with our staff’s summers. We were like the book of Judges: “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”.
        • But we want to set a norm on our team that most staff will go on one of our three partnerships EVERY summer:
          • East Asia
          • Ethiopia
          • San Diego
        • “Come with me” is far more powerful than “you should go”
        • We’ve noticed a HUGE difference in the number of students who will go if we have our staff or key students leading a project (vs when they are being led by other campuses’ staff). HUGE.
      • We are asking our staff to decide by August where they will be going for the Summer and Spring Break. So the minute they step on campus in the fall they are planting seeds with students- “Hey, what are you doing this summer? You should totally come with me to Ethiopia this summer!”
        • Part of this has been lobbying our region to move up their Summer placement to August
        • Previously, our staff would find out in November where they are going
  • Being proactive to select summer and STINT leaders for the coming year
    • They are the most important people to get on board (again, preferably by August)
    • Because they will assemble their team
  • GovemberGovember –we have done this for two years now and I think it has really helped create a sending culture. I shared all that we do and the resources we use for that month, here – via Wisconsin
  • We continue to really push Summer Missions and have started to really push Vision Trips
    • “Summer Missions are the lead measure for full time staff” – Wisconsin
    • “There’s a good chance if students go on Spring Break overseas, then STINT will be on their radar”
  • Junior Recruiting Dinner – via Virginia Tech
    • “We used to do most of our recruiting during student’s senior years. But we kept finding that we were too late. Students had already accepted jobs. For most of our students, the summer after the junior year internship is the job interview.
    • So we started doing a Junior Recruiting Dinner – the spring of their junior year.”
    • This spring we did two small dinners (about 6-8 students at each). We’ll likely do another in the fall to catch the students who were not able to make it to one of those spring dinners
  • We’re actively pursuing a Foundational Sending Class.
    • We made a little progress this year – we have 8 STINT’ers going and 2 interns staying. But next year we hope to have at least 6 on both of our STINT teams, and 6 interns.
  • We try to help students connect relationally with our staff team
    • We invite our Student Staff (8 juniors/seniors) to our weekly staff meeting as well as any staff socials
    • Because: “Healthy teams are attractive to students” and “It snowballs when your team is an attractive team to be on and students get to be around that enough and think ‘I want to be a part of that’”
  • Send first and send your best
    • “Be generous. The needs of the world are greater than on our US campuses. Challenge and send your best and brightest to the world…God will provide and give back.” “I would rather send a solid team than have a big team here.” – Texas A&M
    • This is really hard. But we’re trying. And I feel like our attitudes on our staff team are changing to “we need more laborers on our campus!” to “let’s just send as many as possible to the world!”
  • city_on_a_hill_higher_wordsVision for the world
    • We’ve shifted from just “let’s reach all 26,000” students on this campus to:
      • Let’s reach The Hill so we can be a City on a Hill to be a light to the nations (the U of A is affectionately called “the Hill”)
  • We’re pushing the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course.
    • We had 21 students take this intensive World Vision course this spring. It will be interesting to see how many of those students go to the world after graduating.
  • We’ve started tracking who we’re sending/have sent over the years – via Wisconsin

 

What are you implementing on your campus to become a Sending Campus?

The Top Sending CampusesThis is the part 4 in a series of posts summarizing key findings from researching 17 of Cru’s Top Sending Campuses in the nation.

See the Intro for a full list of all the campuses profiled (and links to each).

In talking to these 17 Top Sending Schools, I’d ask “What makes students want to go into full time ministry?”

Here are the:

10 Things That Make Students Want to Go into Full Time Ministry:

  • Somebody asked them to do it and convinced them they could do it
    • “A lot of students just lack confidence that they’d be any good at it”
    • “We’d love it if you’d join our team! Are you praying about staff/internship?” – Miami
    • “And a lot of the time, that’s all they need”
    • It is especially meaningful coming from the MTL (Missional Team Leader)
      • “As an MTL, you have a lot of persuasion.”
      • “When the boss says, “I’d love to work with you”, it means a lot”
      • “There’s something very honoring about being asked by the guy/girl in charge”
  • They see other students do it and grow tremendously
      • “Having a place where they know they will grow. Ministry is bi-directional – God impacts us while he uses us.”
      • “When they see their friends do it, and it makes them think they can do it”
      • “They’ve seen interns grow tremendously over the past few years (and it’s attractive)”

 

  • Doing ministry with friends
    • “Everyone was going – everyone came back changed from Summer Missions and STINT. It was big that we did it together as a big group. I’m going to go so we can experience change together and come back and impact the campus together. A lot of people went on STINT to East Asia that didn’t particularly have a heart for Asia, but they wanted to go with community and do it as a team.”

 

  • They respect and enjoy the staff team
    • “They want to do it next to people they like and respect”
    • “As a student, I knew the guys sitting in the circle and I wanted my life to be next to their lives”
    • “They know they’ll be loved well and cared for on our staff team”
  • They’ve been deeply impacted by staff
    • “Usually when they’re joining us, it’s been because they’ve been deeply impacted by someone on staff.”
    • “Most students join staff because of a relationship with a staff person – they’ve been really deeply, personally invested in. I think people do care about the mission, but I think they care about it because of their close connection with staff.”
  • In college they got to really experience being used by God to change others’ lives
    • “Generally, students who will labor for a lifetime have to be taking steps of faith and sharing their faith and making significant investments into the lives of others (not just leading a small little Bible study)”
    • They led someone to Christ in college, they discipled students
    • “They experienced that they really are God’s plan A to reach the world. They get to see God use them”
  • They went on Summer Mission
    • 75% or higher – the percentage of Interns, STINTers, and New staff who have previously participated in a Summer Mission (an educated guess by a few informed leaders in Cru)
  • They became a Christian in college
    • Students who came to Christ in college are much more likely to consider doing full time ministry when they graduate
    • Chalk it up to: “he who is forgiven much, loves much.”
  • They want to be a part of something big and exciting
    • “This mission is worthy of your life.”
    • “At the end of time when the great book of the history of the spread of the gospel of Christ is written, I think an entire chapter will be devoted to what God did among college students on our campus. Do you want to be a part of that?”
    • “You can be a part of the big story of God changing the world”
    • “Come help change the world”
  • Realizing internship isn’t just for people who want to go into vocational ministry
    • “If you want to live on mission for the rest of your life, an internship is the best training opportunity that I know of that you can be a part of.”
    • “It will equip you to make an impact for a lifetime no matter where you end up”
    • “A good question: How and when will I get the needed training to have an effective ministry for a lifetime? If you think you can be more effective (long-range) in secular work, consider taking a couple years in full time ministry to get the training needed.”