Archives For Movement Building

shuttle launchI often get asked the question – if most of what you do is focus on freshmen do upperclassmen feel neglected (see this recent post on reaching freshmen over at Campus Ministry Toolbox)?

The answer is sometimes “yes” but it should always be “no”.

Yes, we have upperclassmen lament that they feel overlooked. And sometimes they are right. One of our goals this fall is to really invest in our upperclassmen Bible Studies because we DO feel like we have neglected those.

But here’s the thing: in reaching freshmen, we ARE developing upperclassmen in the most strategic way possible. Upperclassmen are getting an opportunity to lead and be developed and be stretched in ways that will pay dividends for decades to come.

What’s missing? Clear communication.

We need to help upperclassmen see that their primary need is not for “me-time” where we exclusively focus on them (see When Can Discipleship Actually Be a Bad Thing). They need to be pushed out of the nest to focus on others and be trained as a laborer for Christ.

Upperclassmen do need personal attention focused on their walks with God (first and foremost). But they also need help in becoming an adult which = the glad assumption of responsibility. And they need to take responsibility for the greatest need in the world – bringing the good news of Christ to the ends of the earth.

For us, that means communicating over and over to upperclassmen how they are benefiting from this indispensable training they are getting. Even though it may FEEL like you’re not the primary focus, in reaching others YOU are being developed.

The biggest “win” in our focus on reaching freshmen is probably that hundreds of upperclassmen are getting to taste the life-changing experience of being used by God to change another person’s life.

By reaching freshmen we are training up a new generation of laborers. And we want those freshmen being reached to turn the corner as quickly as possible: from being reached to reaching.

What do you think? Agree/Disagree?



On my Stuff You Can Use for the First Week on Campus post (which has spiritual interest surveys, fliers, brochures, and other free & helpful stuff on it), a recent commenter, Ron Cram, wanted more details on how we do spiritual interest surveys. And since I love data analysis I couldn’t resist sharing what the data tells us.

I think it’s pretty interesting to see what correlation there is between

  • number of surveys done the first week of school AND
  • number of freshmen that actually get involved (in Bible studies)


So here’s Ron’s comments/questions and my answers:

Tim, I am interested in an analysis of the data on the card. It sounds like you got 3000 students to complete the card…

We do about 3000 surveys over the first few weeks at various events. The stats below reflect the 2500 surveys we do at tables we set up outside of dorm cafeterias on the second and third day of class. Why not the first day? Because our Cru meeting is on Tuesday, and Dorm Studies on Wednesday. When we do a survey with them we give them a “Free Chick-fil-A Sandwich” card and a flyer for Cru and Dorm Bible Studies (and we say, “you should join us tonight at Cru/Bible Study”)

How many of them indicated an interest in Cru?

1 Minute Questionnaire

Click to see full size

To download a Photoshop file you can edit to use on your campus, click here.

We don’t keep stats specifically on each question because it doesn’t affect how we do follow up. We follow up anyone who checks “yes” on either question.

70% of students checked “yes” on one of the two questions.

30% of the respondents answered “no-no”. Not interested in Cru nor Bible studies (we don’t follow them up at all).

Here’s the breakdown of how they answered:

“How interested are you in exploring spiritual matters in college (1- not interested 5= very interested)?”

1 = 7%
2 = 13%
3 = 29%
4 = 21%
5 = 24%
No answer = 6%

So on our campus, about 25% of students are not interested in spiritual things. 75% are at least mildly interested. How does that compare to your campus?

How many actually got involved?

We noticed this a few years ago: it’s not important how many spiritual surveys we do, as long as we’re doing enough to have a plenty big pool of contacts to follow up (I’d say around 1000-1500). Doing more surveys does not result in more freshmen getting involved (at least for us).

That being said, we do feel that it is good to do surveys with as many freshmen as possible for several reasons:

      • Every person we do a survey with, we get face to face with and invite them verbally and with a flier to a Cru event. And they get something free (Chick-fil-A card or sunglasses) – hopefully a very positive first experience with Cru.
      • If we can do surveys with a high percentage of the freshmen class, we have a baseline understanding of where A LOT of students are at spiritually. As we bump into students later in the year (or the next 4), we can quickly look them up on Mission Hub and know “Michael was not very interested in spiritual things at all in August 2012 – he put 1-yes-no. Joey Smith met with him and invited him to a Bible study but he never came” 

Here’s what our stats showed us:

surveys vs freshmen involved

You notice from 2008 to 2009 we doubled the number of surveys we did. But it has zero impact on getting more freshmen involved.

Here’s what matters and causes more freshmen to get involved:

    1. Having more student Community Group leaders. You can see how the growth in Freshmen in studies correlates with (and I would say is caused by):

      study leaders

    2. The quality and thoroughness of follow up


How many people (staff or students) were involved in collecting this data? How long did it take? Was it all done in one day?

We do tables for two days at five locations (4 dorm cafeterias and the Union) from 11am-1pm and 5-6:30pm.

Our 10 staff are at the tables both days at lunch. Students are present at the tables for both lunch and dinner. I would guess that we have 30 students at lunch and 30 at dinner each day. Maybe a total of 50-75 helping during the two days?

Right after we collect all the cards we divvy up the cards among students and they enter in the information into Mission Hub. I have no idea how long that takes. I would guess 5 hours for about 20 students?

We also do spiritual interest surveys at two big freshmen cookouts during move-in week, a midnight “Frisbees and Flapjacks” event, and our Cru meetings.


Hopefully that data/information is helpful for you as think through a gameplan for getting in contact with (and reaching!) freshmen in the Fall.

Would love to hear from you what you have seen on your campus – what has resulted in you getting more freshmen involved?


“We as staff need to learn to become experts in helping students reach their own campuses and the world they enter into after graduation.”Brent Trickett


Valeree Joy Rillon, Cru staff in Manila, Philippines, wrote a brilliant post on Ken Cochrum’s blog on what she’s learned adjusting from staff-led to student-led.

students on denver campusTRUST GOD and TRUST THE STUDENTS.

We need to TRUST God that He has already prepared “harvesters” even in an untapped campus and it’s just for us to intentionally find where they are and are just waiting to be coached. We need to TRUST even a single committed student to OWN the VISION for his/her campus and rallying it to become a reality in his/her own strategies aligned with the principles of how God distinctively called CCC. Students feel how we view them. Honestly, I was so high-controlling before that my disciples viewed my personal strategies as their principles. They were boxed how I do things that they never even reflected on why they are doing what I was doing. But when I learned (and am still learning) to let go and gave them the freedom to strategize how to reach their campus, OWNERSHIP increased and their LEADERSHIP got more empowered.

Success in seeing STUDENT-LED MOVEMENTS is simply taking the initiative to challenge students to build spiritual movements in the power of the HOLY SPIRIT and leaving the results to God! To God be all the glory!


Read the rest (it’s short and well worth reading in its entirety – we will be reading it as a team this week during planning)


What do we as staff need to do to become experts in helping students reach their own campus and the world they enter into after graduation?


photo courtesy of University of Denver

Valeree Joy Rillon is on staff with Cru in Manila, Philippines and posted this great insight on Facebook:

As a Christian GROUP, we greatly rejoice when someone receives Christ.

As a Christian ORGANIZATION, we greatly rejoice when they come back for follow-up.

As a Christian MOVEMENT, we greatly rejoice when they multiply because we would see more people knowing, growing, and multiplying in Christ!

So what are we?gold lights

A Group?

An Organization?

Or a Movement?


Brings to mind that we constantly need to be asking our staff and students:

  • What are we?
  • What is success for us?
  • What are we trying to accomplish?

For us, as a team, it’s easy to celebrate (and count) conversions. But more difficult to keep a pulse on follow up and multiplication (therefore making it more difficult to celebrate).

How about you – how does your team celebrate multiplication?

photo courtesy of gracias!


We Need a Bigger Table

September 4, 2012 — Leave a comment

Table of Salt

This is a great illustration from Tim Henderson at Penn State Cru:

Think about a table you are pouring sand onto. At some point the sand won’t pile any higher and it will start spilling off the edge. The only solution is to enlarge the table.

In our case the sand represents the students in the movement and the table represents our leadership. We will never have enough staff to form a table of the size that we need. Instead we need to free up and empower more students to be the table, while the staff function as the legs of the table. We will be here to support you, but it’s your movement; you are the leaders.

While we hope that the staff have been and will continue to be a significant advantage to you, in some ways our structure has limited your ability to own and lead.

Great vision to use with your students as you enter the fall.

You can read Takeaways Part 1 here (click here for the Intro of the series)

If you want to go back and read about each campus here are the 8 Large Cru Movements I profiled:Cru-10-24-11


Here are my Top 10 Takeaways

  1. The Critical Event– Montana State
    • A trained person taking a non-trained person to share their faith
    • How to share your faith can’t be learned in a classroom. The campus whose staff do more evangelism than any campus I’ve ever heard of – Montana State – hardly does any classroom training in evangelism. They just go out and do it (modeling it).
  2. It’s a longer process to take a carnal, nominal, youth group kid to Christ centered than it is to take a lost student to Christ-centered laborer – Miami
    • We want to reach the unbelievers, but we have a ton of students who come as self-centered Christians and we trust God to scrub them down and start following God passionately
  3. Start the way you want to finish– Michigan State
    • If you want students who are engaged with the Lord, sharing their faith as seniors, you need to start doing that with them as freshmen
  4. Emotionally unhealthy staff like to do everything themselves because they feel better about themselves – they feel productive – Miami
    • If you’re movement is led by students, there’s not much you need to cover in a staff meeting
    • Do staff say “Man, Mark runs ragged. He’s exhausted”?
    • I look at staff who are running crazy and I think; “I don’t think a student would want to be like you”
  5. We work really hard to make sure we have a meeting that people want to bring their friends to (feel comfortable with/not embarrassing) – Penn State
  6. We had created an [unhealthy] culture of discipleship = “deep conversations at coffee houses”– Cal Poly- SLO
    • I heard some of our students saying “I guess I better start liking coffee because I’m going to start discipling guys”
  7. If we were a factory, what is the widget we would produce? – Penn State
    • If we were a tree, what would be our fruit?
    • We produce Laborers!
  8. Everything we do is designed to move students toward becoming: “independent, capable, Christ-centered laborers equipped and motivated to continue their own development and influence the world for Christ” – Penn State
  9. Parents Weekend – Florida
    • Parents come to weekly meeting on Friday night
    • Do a Giving Brunch next morning
  10. Florida’s streamlined ministry structure. Everything is built around Community Groups.
    • How do they do evangelism? Thru Community Groups.
    • How do staff spend their time? Pouring into Community Group Leaders.
    • I’m especially intrigued by how their studies are multi-generational (freshmen thru senior in the same group)


What are your main takeaways or favorite thoughts?


I want to wrap up the series on Large Cru Movements with 2 posts on my Top Takeaways. Click for Part 2 (click here for the Intro of the series)

If you want to go back and read about each campus here are the 8 Cru Movements I profiled:

Part 1 of Top Takeaways is mostly just a step back to see what patterns emerge from the Large Movements series. An attempt to distill:

  • What do Staff Do?
  • What do MTL’s Do (MTL = Missional Team Leaders = Directors)?
  • What contributed to the growth of these large movements?

Part 2 will be some of my personal thoughts and favorite takeaways.


What do staff do?

In most of these large movements, staff:

  • Oversee a ministry team: Weekly Meeting, Prayer, Outreach
  • Disciple key student leaders (and take them out to share their faith)
  • Lead a Bible study
  • Empower students lead as much as possible


Some notable thoughts:

  • NC State
    • Each of key staff leaders is like a mini-MTL – each run an area of campus or a distinct ministry (AIA, Bridges, etc)
  • Cal Poly SLO
    • This movement can survive without a weekly meeting, social and the events
    • But the backbone of our movement is evangelism and discipleship and small groups
    • That’s your job
    • Staff got a little off and thought coaching these teams is more impt
      • It’s public, so they spend more time on that
      • They want to feel like they are contributing
      • It’s easier to buy groceries
      • And maybe they don’t know what to do with discipleship
  • Ole Miss
    • Main question – how are you going to reproduce yourself?
  • Penn State
    • If our students are going to lead, what does that leave staff to do:
    • 3 things:
      • Set direction (“this is where we are going”)
      • Resource (skills, tools, money)
      • Develop
  • Montana State
    • Their primary job is to be in their target area, sharing their faith, with student leaders
  • Florida
    • Staff don’t lead any Bible studies – instead they coach 5 Bible studies (10 leaders)



What do MTL’s do?

Most MTL’s:

  • Lead staff meeting
  • Lead Leadership Meetings
  • Focus on staff Care (they meet with every senior staff every week)
  • Cast vision for the mission
  • Only disciple 1 or 2 students
  • Spend at least one day on planning
  • Rely on their Senior Staff to coach younger staff/interns.

Some teach every week at their weekly meeting, others hardly at all.

A few MTL’s lead studies but several do not.


Some notable thoughts:

  • Penn State
    • My job is to keep my staff happy so they’ll stick around and grow up to be MTL’s
  • Miami (really the whole post is worth reading if you want to learn how to be a good MTL)
    • The role of the MTL is in between student leaders and staff leaders
      • Lead the student leadership team and lead the staff team
      • Constantly trying to balance the tension
      • If I’m going to err, I’m going to err on letting students lead
    • I’m constantly thinking: How can I push more and more leadership away from myself?



Contributors to growth

I was struck by how diverse the 8 movements are – definitely not cookie cutter ministries.

But despite the diversity here are some consistent threads that contributed to growth:

  • The director had been there for a long time(except for one campus – for over a decade)
    • Take Miami’s two directors for example:
      • Mark Brown – 20 years
      • Jane Armstrong – 32 years
    • I heard this quote from Jim Sylvester repeated multiple times: “More happens in five years that I could ever imagine, but less happens in one year than I would hope”.
  • God decided to move/Prayer
    • I think this quote from Ken Cochrum applies here: “True spiritual movements are both intentional and organic (grown by God)”
  • Strong Community Groups
    • These large movements were not just a huge weekly meeting. Most had just as many in CG’s as at their weekly meeting.
  • Growing the number of Core Leaders–Doing the right things with the right people
    • Brian Langford at Michigan State:
      • I was trying to change things from up front but Hersh encouraged me that as long as I was doing the right things with the right people, things would change
      • He encouraged me to grow the number of core leaders (and make sure they are multiplying their lives thru discipleship)
      • “I took 12 guys to disciple, the strongest leaders. And that changed our movement. Every single guy leader in the movement [the next few years] came from those 12”
    • Montana State:
      • 5 or 6 years ago we really began to take spiritual multiplication seriously and asked “Are we really preparing people for a lifetime of ministry?”
      • Multipliers/Spiritual grandchildren.
      • Are there students involved in our ministry who are really helping students have a ministry?
      • “The grandchild has to be sharing their faith” – the litmus test of the leader
      • We work really hard at this and the number is still really small
  • A good overseas partnership
    • From Miami-Ohio:
      • It gives students a big picture and they get to share their faith
      • 24 Miami students in Fiji saw 100 students trust Christ the first week – how can that not change you?


As you learned about these movements, what are some common threads you saw?

What are your main takeaways or favorite thoughts?


This is part of a series: Learning from Large Cru Movements- a look at 8 of the largest Cru movements in the U.S.  Read the Series intro here.


This post is a summary of two conversations I had with NC State staff – in Summer of 2008 and 2011. So some of the content may not 100% reflect the current reality at NC State Cru. But it’s such good stuff, it is worth sharing all of it.

Overview of the Movement at North Carolina State

Movement stats as of 2011

  • There are 35,000 students enrolled at NC State
  • 2,500 students at Meredith College (Private Women’s College; have their own servant team)
  • We’re using NC State as a hub (other campuses come to our meetings) and reaching out from there
  • About 700-1200 at weekly meeting (about 1500 at first meeting)
  • # in Bible studies – best guess would be 1000
    • some of those Bible study students never step foot in weekly meeting
  • 200 Bible study leaders right now
  • About 60 on SP every summer
  • Around 15-20 staff (including Faculty Commons, AIA, Bridges, interns, staff)
    • Usually around 2-3 interns every year
  • 300-400 at Fall Retreat
  • Winter Conference – 85 this year (with Passion draining)
    • Biggest year was 250
    • We are not battling Passion – I really believe it’s a movement of God
    • But we’re different
  • Mike Mehaffe has been the Campus Director at NC State since 1981 (over 30 years!)
  • How large are other ministries on your campus
    • Campus Outreach – probably 300 involved
    • Intervarsity – about 75
    • Navs – about 50


A couple thoughts on this movement

  • From my research, I would guess that NC State is the largest Cru movement in the nation
  • I once heard a Cru staff say that they want to throw the biggest parties on campus every year (he was talking about their weekly meeting being that party)
  • If there was a Party Ranking System for biggest parties at NC State, NC State Cru would completely sweep the Top 5 (more details on what they do below)


Movement History

  • 1981 – 30 students involved, 4 staff
  • Grew up to 100 within a few years
  • Stayed at 100 for a while
  • 1995 – Mike did a lot of prayer on campus
    • That’s where it started to grow
  • From 1995-2000 grew from 100 to 800 in ministry
  • Around 10 staff in 2000


Biggest Contributors to Growth

  • #1 thing – prayer – consistently student prayer for the campus
    • Mike Mehaffe is a big time prayer guy; Prayer is his thing
  • Longevity of the Director and long term staff
    • Todd (senior staff) has been at the campus for 13-14 years
    • Mike Mehaffe knows a lot of people on campus
      • Athletic Director
      • People high up in the residence halls
  • Having a finance/admin person (staff who loves doing admin stuff) → frees up Director and the team to run smoother
  • Leadership retreats have really helped the growth
  • High degree of excellence at weekly meeting and parties


What does evangelism look like on your campus?

  • Primarily through the geographic areas
    • Each area has own personality (dorms, greek, ethnic groups)
    • We ask them to think through how to best reach your part of campus
    • Areas have $500 for outreach (which we could increase that quite a bit)
  • Don’t do usually do big outreaches
    • Maybe do every three years
    • Last one we did: Debate – “Does God exist?” – William Lane Craig vs. Atheist
  • Mostly do prayer/care/share strategy [similar to Community 2:8]
  • 150 students come to Christ on average (most of those are through friends)
  • Starting this year: Encouraging our students to move back in the dorms for junior/senior year


What do staff focus on?

  • Discipleship is number one priority
    • Meet with every single one of our bible study leaders every week in discipleship
      • Students can also do this (but staff still touch base with them at least once a month or every two weeks)
      • One staff guy disciples 12 guys (all from the West side) – all one-on-one
      • Another staff disciples 20+ (all from Central) – some in pairs
    • What they cover:
      • Make sure they are pouring into people in their studies
      • Make sure they are sharing their faith
  • Each of key staff leaders is like a mini-MTL (Cru-speak for Director) over an Area
    • West Campus– around 300
    • Central Campus – around 400 involved
    • East Campus
    • South Campus
    • Meredith College
    • Destino, Impact, Faculty Commons, Bridges, AIA
  • Staff go to the servant team meetings sometimes
    • Teams will meet pretty much every week or two
  • 4 student men who are student staff – staff men shepherd them
    • They raise support
    • They come to staff meeting once a month
    • Been great for raising up staff (good picture of what staff life looks like)


What do you as Director do?

  • Give leadership, vision for the whole
  • Spend a lot of time on staff care and community
  • Make sure people care about each other and enjoy each other
  • Plan staff meetings
  • Still real connected with students
    • Works on South Campus
    • Leads Senior guys study
    • Comes to most of the events that they do
    • Meets with a couple student leaders
    • Goes into the dorms and shares his faith
    • Real big on community/university relationships (takes a staff guy with him and meets with them every year)
  • Don’t meet weekly with AIA, Bridges, Faculty staff
  • What Mike’s schedule looks like as Director
    • Monday
      • Just do planning – prepare a couple Bible studies (one for staff, one students). Prep staff meeting (for Friday). Preps Discipleship
    • Tuesday-Friday – on campus or meeting people all week
    • Tuesday
      • 9-11 Staff prayer every week (invite all AIA, Bridges, Faculty Commons that AM)
      • Thru 5pm – Training: 2 hours doing ministry together
      • Night – date night
    • Wednesday
      • 10-noon – MTL meeting (half time with campus issues; half spent planning staff meeting- making sure we are in agreement)
      • Afternoon – appts w staff and students
      • 5:30-7:00 – senior bible study
      • Meet for dinner at our house at 5:30 and then have study
    • Thursday
      • 7:30AM – accountability w a peer (ask each other the tough questions)
      • 9-11 Staff Development (educational portion) – discuss what they’ve read, listen to tapes (with all the new staff together)
      • Afternoon – appts on campus
      • Weekly meeting – 8-9:30pm
    • Friday
      • Staff meeting 9-noon
        • First 30 minutes – hot breakfast snack, sports page is open, staff hang out and goof off and talk
        • Fill out weekly reviews
        • Share time – what’s God doing (good or hard)
        • 10-10:30 – study of Mark – very discussion oriented
        • 10:30-11 – King’s business (evaluate our leaders retreat, etc)


Reaching Freshmen

  • Have info tables set up the first two weeks of school
  • Table on each part of campus – west, east, south
  • Coke donates a bunch of Cokes that we hand out (or we do freezie pops)
  • Give out info sheet with all the upcoming events
  • Do 2000 total spiritual interest surveys
    • Can check they want to be in a study
    • Primary way we fill our studies (is through these contacts)
    • Spend first month-month and a half following those up
    • Staff go with students and spend tons of time following up all those contacts
  • We also get restaurants and businesses to put coupons on the bottom of the survey that they can tear off


Ministry Structure

Leadership Meetings

  • Once a month, our geographic areas meet as leaders (led by staff and students) – about 40 student leaders in each area
    • Each staff responsible for getting their area together for leadership
    • They plan three things for the month:
      • Outreach
      • Community event
      • Prayer time
    • They share what’s going on and catch up
    • It’s how we keep our student leaders aligned
    • Leaders made up of:
      • Bible study leaders
      • Servant Team
      • Music Leaders (used to have guys who were great on guitar but sleeping with their girlfriend)
    • Leaders fill out expectation sheet in Spring
      • When they sign up, they give references from roommates
      • They sign Cru statement of faith and expectations
        • No drinking, morality w dating
        • Have to go to 2 of 3 retreats
          • Winter Conference
          • Fall Retreat
          • Spring Break
    • Music team is shepherded by a staff – making sure they’re walking with god and in integrity
  • Every other Sunday night MTL’s meet with Servant Team leaders
    • Talk about DNA of Cru – who we are
    • Each team reports – what they’re doing, where they are headed
    • Everyone on ST is a generalist (i.e.- everyone gives input on Weekly meeting) but also responsible for their particular area
    • Servant Team made up of younger students (2 co-leaders for each team)
    • Leaders are typically sophomore or junior
    • After they serve on ST, they then graduate to leading a dorm or bible study leader (usually serve for 1 year)
    • Older students are leading everything
    • Staff advisor mentors and develops students leaders on the servant team (how to lead, recruit new students, sound board for ideas)
    • Try to get freshmen involved on each team really early
    • Teams we have:
      • Weekly Meeting
      • Prayer
      • Community
      • Publicity
      • WSN (sending to the world)
      • Conference recruiting
      • I heart NCState – how can we be a blessing to NC State – where if we were dismissed from NC state the campus would notice


Leadership Retreats

Do leadership retreat at beginning of Fall and Spring

  • Meet with our leaders in August at the beach with all the small group leaders for 2 nights/3 days
    • 1 whole week before school starts
    • Students pay $40 (Older students get a discount)
    • Goals:
      • Align, care, pray
      • Connecting with one another
    • Staff get there a day early to student retreats and hang out and connect
  • 1 day leadership event at a church in January (all day)
    • Mostly for aligning
    • Charge students $5



  • A lot of training for students takes place in discipleship and in small group studies
  • Have 4 training lessons we try to do with every freshmen
    • How to use KGP
    • Developing 3 minutes testimony
    • How to use Satisfied booklet
    • Follow up training
    • Sexual
  • Have 3-4 year discipleship plan [their website has what they use for discipleship and Bible studies]
  • Big fan of Transferrable Concepts – definitely use those to reinforce our DNA


Spring Break

  • 4 options we promote
    • Do their own beach trip – take 90 to that
    • 25-30 to campus oriented trip in NYC
    • Chicago inner city
    • Local church – good deeds campaign locally
      • 100 students went last year


Weekly Meeting

  • Mostly bring in outside speakers (teachers from seminary)
    • Speaker speaks for 30 minutes
    • Usually give $50 gift card to outside speakers
  • Mike rarely speaks – Once a year
  • Rotate in 2-3 staff per semester
  • Staff guy runs a lot of it with some student involvement
  • Don’t allow people to come in and hand out stuff (keep a tight reign)
  • MC is a student
  • Band – 2 full student bands
    • 2 key student leaders who lead it
  • Some Video – no skits or goofy stuff
  • Primetime card
    • Everyone fills one out and pass all cards down to the end to the bucket
    • Student enters in the students into the system
    • All the Bible study leaders go onto website and see who is new
    • Staff that who are over the key leaders in target areas make sure students follow up those students


Fall Retreat

  • 2 night retreat
  • Outside speaker
  • Use their own band (really low key – just a 1 or 2 people up there)


Bible Studies

  • We have a recommended contentfor Bible studies
    • Many like to go through a whole book of the bible – Ephesians, etc
    • Use Cru.comm
  • Bible study leaders stay with their bible studies until they graduate
  • Freshmen Studies
    • Put signs up everywhere
    • Main way they fill them is through the surveys
    • Start studies 2nd week back
    • First semester do topical stuff so people can come in and out



Once a month we have a big community event

  • Really high expectations/quality
  • A place to invite non-Christians to
    • No spiritual content or Cru Announcement – totally relational
  • Community team plans all the events (they meet weekly throughout year)
  • Establish traditions so that it grows every year
  • Serves the Bible studies
  • Make t-shirts for 2-3 events (pay $12 and get a tshirt plus get in free to party; $15 long sleeve) → creates excitement for things – makes them feel big time
  • All community events pay for themselves (charge for most of them and get a lot of food, etc donated)
  • Events we have:
    • 299_29067881366_4879_nHawaiian Luauin August (click to see more info on their site)
      • $3 cover charge
      • Biggest thing in the fall – Around 1000 come?
      • First weekend of school
      • Bunch of food out
      • Lots of decorations
      • Really fun environment
      • Apt. pool or city pool
      • Cru students meet students and invite them to weekly meeting189631_10150093186246367_315874_n
    • Barn Party293980_10150305080971367_1753881329_n
      • About 1000 come
      • In October
      • Rent big work lights
      • Staff direct parking – wear bright orange vests and flashlights
      • Bring in snow cone machine
      • $3 cover charge
      • Decorate it a lot
        • Trailer full of hay
        • Go around to country stores and get stuff donated like signs (Wrangler, John Deere)
      • John Deere Tractor for a hay ride
      • 18 wheeler trailer (without a top) – stage for the band
        • A clogging team comes in and we have a band
      • Pit cooker with a bunch of corn
      • Cornhole boards set out (beanbag toss)
      • Bonfire with Smores
    • Winter Ball Semi-Formal
      • Works great for us – our campus has a lot of engineers – where they need a little help in interacting with girls
      • They have to ask girls to the Winter Ball
      • Coat and tie, dresses
      • $15/person; $25/couple
      • Usually make money on our semi-formal
    • Tailgatefor every football game
      • Make it a big
      • Roast a whole pig, green beans, sweet tea, big flag, vanilla pudding
      • Movie Night
      • Rent Snow Cone machine and popcorn
    • Tacky Prom296457_10150330973416367_1636060713_n
    • Broom Ball just for Juniors and Seniors
    • End of Year Picnic (tug of war, bbq, etc)



A strength of our movement:

  • There are a lot of real healthy friendships (which is kind of rare at an engineering school)
  • Bible studies laugh a lot and share life together


Ways to make the movement feel small

  • Dinner for 10
  • People sign up to eat dinner together before the weekly meeting
  • Community Parties (detailed above)– make things really fun and cool to come to; way to meet people


What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at NC State?


penn state cru

This is part of a series: Learning from Large Cru Movements- a look at 8 of the largest Cru movements in the U.S.  Read the Series intro here.

This post is a summary of two conversations I had with Tim Henderson – in Summer of 2008 and 2011. So some of the content may not 100% reflect the current reality at Penn State Cru. But it’s such good stuff, it is worth sharing all of it.

Overview of the Movement at Penn State

Movement stats as of 2011

  • There are 44,000 students enrolled at Penn State
  • 300-400 students involved in Cru (maybe 5% growth every year)
  • Been pretty slow growth the whole way
  • 8-14 people are coming on every year into Cru internships and staff
  • About 500 students at weekly meeting (ranging from 275-600);
  • 24 small group Bible Studies
  • Staff team ranges from 10-13


  • Aside:To my knowledge, Tim Henderson is the most innovative Cru Director in the nation.
    • He has produced phenomenal resources like the Compass and Cru.comm (which, I would guess played a role in eventually forming the phenomenal CruPressGreen).
    • About a decade ago Penn State brought in a graphic designer to come up with a brand for their ministry (and many Cru ministries, especially in the Northeast, have used this branding)
    • They wanted to reach drunks so they came up with the “Beer is Proof” Evangelistic campaign (that many campuses have used)
    • He led the research team that delivered the very insightful Changing Evangelism report (that is well worth reading if you want to understand how to better reach today’s college students)
    • He wrote/gave a brilliant talk to the Penn State Cru movement following the news on Sandusky in Fall 2011.
    • Penn State Cru is always on the cutting edge on evangelism and really college ministry in general.


What we do

  • We are not an evangelistic organization
  • We are not a discipleship organization
  • We are a labor producing factory – our clarion call – this would be my message if I had a megaphone
  • I always ask the staff:
  • If we were a factory, what is the widget we would produce?
    • If we were a tree, what would be our fruit?
    • Laborers!
    • We make missionaries
      • Our raw good is lost students
      • Process is centering them on Christ
      • Churn out laborers (missionaries – don’t care who they work for)
    • We win and build so that we can send
    • Why do we share the gospel?
      • B/c out there, among the lost, are people who will be laborers
  • This is what we do


What does evangelism look like on your campus?

  • There are 2 types of students:
    • The ready and the unready
  • Doug Pollock in his book God Space says that evangelism is like golfing:
    • You need to be able to drive, putt, chip
    • I think a lot of time Cru treats it like it’s a putting game
    • But most people are not on the green
  • We’re using Community to address Evangelism effectiveness
  • [Here at Arkansas we use Penn State’s Community 2:8 strategy for evangelism. It’s simple and effective.]
  • Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult is the best book I’ve read on evangelism recently


Ministry Structure

In 2009 we restructured everything that we do here.

We made sweeping changes because:

  1. We need to penetrate far more of the campus with the gospel
  2. We need to dramatically increase our capacity to love and serve students
  3. We need to build better bridges to life and ministry after graduation
    • We have heard from far too many of our grads that the sudden transition from the considerable support structures they experienced in Cru to the independence and relative isolation of the “real world” has been jarring. Indeed, too many of our grads cease influencing others for Christ, and worse still others stop walking with Christ at all.

These two documents describe some of the changes we made– What is Cru, Transition Letter to Students.

Everything we do is designed to move students toward becoming:

“independent, capable, Christ-centered laborers equipped and motivated to continue their own development and influence the world for Christ”


We have Four Lanes that students can lead in:

  • Managers(organizationally minded)
    • Managers run the infrastructure of Cru. If you like to set direction, strategize, plan, and execute those plans this lane is for you.
    • Bonus side effect – Penn State does really good job at recruiting to Ops
  • Multipliers– evangelists and discipleship
    • They lead our dozens of small group Bible studies across campus, and meet weekly with students one-on-one to help them walk, communicate, and multiply their faith.
  • Freshmen team
    • The Freshman team exists to reach every freshman at Penn State
    • Always composed of sophomores (6-8 student leaders who oversee the Multipliers who lead freshmen studies)
    • Freshmen bible studies are all led by sophomores
  • Missionaries –if you don’t want to be burdened with a group and want to just go after new areas (you can read more about this lane here) – link to changing evangelism


  • In general for leaders: Quality proceeds quantity
  • Our students are particularly sharp leaders


Weekly Meeting

  • The entry point to the movement
  • Being in a consistent place with a great location is huge
  • Most people come b/c a friend invited them
    • Community is our primary currency
  • We work really hard to make sure we have a meeting that people want to bring their friends to (feel comfortable with)
  • We are seeker-friendly but with pretty deep talks, pretty serious worship
  • 3 things we focus on:
    • Good Worship
    • Good teaching
    • Fun (not embarrassing)
  • Students speak at Cru 2-3 times a year – big win


Bible Studies

  • Freshmen bible studies are led by Sophomores who lead in pairs–
  • Not sure how many are in studies because that’s someone else’s job to know that!
  • Maybe 12 freshmen studies?
  • This year we’re trying to have fewer, bigger studies



  • “Discipleship” has at least two senses.
    • The general biblical sense that pertains to all of our life as followers of Christ
    • And the Crusade sense of “discipleship proper” by which we mean a one hour meeting each week in the student union with an older student or staff member.
  • In Crusade we tend to use it almost exclusively in the more limited sense.
  • We hope to recast discipleship in the broader sense, while continuing to value the particular sense known around here as “D Time.”
  • In doing so we hope to help our students learn to see the many, many ways that they can participate in the act of growing as a disciple of Christ, now.
  • Also, we hope the variety will help them be prepared to find the discipleship in its many forms after graduation
  • [You can read more in the two documents linked to above re: the changes they made]


What do staff focus on?

  • We get out of the way and let students lead
  • If our students are going to lead, what does that leave us to do?
  • 3 things:
    • Set direction (“this is where we are going”)
    • Resource (skills, tools, money)
    • Develop

We are asking Staff to lead at a much higher level.

  • Our Staff all specialist- they all work exclusively in their lanes and lead it as a Director
  • One person leads each of the Lanes (It’s like having 4 Directors)
  • Everything happens within those lanes
    • They disciple within those lanes
    • Tom leads Multiplier lane
      • He cares and develops everyone in his lane
      • Weekly meeting with everyone
      • Indiv meeting with each student (not every one every week)
      • Not necessarily discipleship (one on one)
        • Where they share their faith and talk about their girlfriend
  • Missionaries
    • Mostly just going and doing Perspectives Cards
    • Every three weeks rotate thru guys (taking them out)
  • Managers – take them sharing twice a semester
    • We coach the student team leaders
      • How did the weekly meeting go?
      • What is going on in your life?
    • Students lead their own team – staff don’t go to the team meetings
    • It’s the staff’s job to lead the student leaders; the student leaders’ job is to lead their team (CRU, prayer, etc.)
  • Our Staff has invested really heavily in doing the 5 follow ups
    • We call it “Cru core values” and we heavily promote it:
      • “If you’re a freshman and you’re new, we’d love to go through this one on one with you”
      • Have them sign up to meet and talk about our Cru core values
    • It’s the best thing we do for evangelism


What do you (the Director) focus on?

  • My job is to keep my staff happy so they’ll stick around and grow up to be Directors
  • I speak every other week at our weekly meeting
  • Lead missionary lane
    • Meet every week with them (45 students)
  • Develop the team
    • Meet one-on-one with staff
  • I never go on campus alone
    • Always with staff or student
  • Weekly schedule
    • In the office all day Monday
    • Wed. AM prep morning
    • Thursday afternoon prepping for Talks
    • Other mornings, doing staff meeting or training

Making Staff Happy

  • We go out early to Ray’s Town (where we have our leadership retreat)
  • We get a houseboat for our staff
  • We invest very heavily in making our staff really happy
  • Play a ton together
    • We do a lot of staff retreats
    • Strong sense of camaraderie
  • One year we took off the week after Fall Retreat
    • Monday and Tuesday off
    • Wednesday – day of prayer
    • Thursday night – cheese and chocolate fondue for the students (at a mansion house they rented for dirt cheap)
    • Took the staff team to Philadelphia on Friday
    • Net effect= staff are feeling: “I went a whole week, I celebrated, we played, I left town, and now I’m ready to go hard for the rest of the semester”



Question – You’ve referred to community a lot; how that is your primary currency, the main thing you do.

How do you produce good, life-changing community?

  • We talk about it incessantly
  • Applaud it when it happens
  • Spend money on it
  • Make things as fun and social as we can
    • Staff team loves each other – we play a lot
    • A sense of playfulness that permeates our movement
  • Dances and socials
  • Houses where students throw parties
    • Videos during Cru to promote their parties
    • Lodgefest – bunch of guys lived at a place called the Lodge
  • At beginning of the year, take all the leaders down to a lake
    • For 3 days
    • Water ski, jump off cliffs
    • Camp fires
    • Live in tents
    • Evangelism training
    • Drenched in community and play
  • Turn everything into a C2:8 event
  • Cru Meetings aren’t too formal
  • We’re here to have a good time and verbalize that
  • Champion inclusivity and warmth



We’re trying to get as many kids to join our staff as we can

  • We need more laborers and are current system won’t give us any more (if we wait for staff)
  • We tell students:
    • “There is no one better than a Penn State Cru senior to go reach other Penn State students.”
  • There’s a ton of people in our movement who won’t go on to do full time ministry but might invest a year with us
  • We’re going to run a campaign called, “One year and then career”
  • Result would be another 5-10 laborers per year who will in turn give us more potential to do more


Strategic Planning

We use a framework called Clouds and Puzzles Pieces (click to see the pdf of the framework)

4 questions

1) What are we trying to build here this year?

  • What are we trying to get done/accomplished? Mission/Vision

2) What are the problems holding us back?

3) What do we currently have that can help us?

  • Critical mass
    • Your weekly meeting is not a problem to be solved
    • It’s a bucket of cash
    • We use our weekly meeting to help our morale problem
    • We use our weekly meeting to fix community
    • We have 400 people that are a resource

4) How do we spend what we have to solve our problems, meet our goals, and increase what we have for next year and its problems?


  • Couldn’t get kids to come to a ministry training time
    • Don’t want to come because it’s boring, time constraints
    • There is no time where we can do training time during the year
    • We bought a bunch of tents and booked a couple nights at Ray’s Town camp
    • Did it before the school year
    • Charged $30
    • Train them up and have a blast
    • Ray’s Town (training we do before the year) is no longer a problem, it’s a resource, it’s critical mass we can use for our purposes
    • Students are trained, have fun, connect with each other

Those 4 questions are  the framework that we work through

[Here at Arkansas we’ve adapted this approach and use it for all of our planning – I wrote more in depth about it here]


On Sharing Resources

  • We never make things intending to use it nationally
  • All we do is make things we need
  • We needed something for discipleship, so we came up with the Compass
  • We needed something to use for drunks so we made Beer is Proof
  • It only took 5% more effort to share the wealth
  • We made Cru.comm (Bible study material) because we lacked control over small group material and that was hurting our sending
    • We would ask students to join them on staff and they would be like, “why?” – they had no idea what we were about, our distinctives
    • We wanted material where we knew our students would be getting our distinctives over 2-3 years in Cru
    • 80% of our small groups use Cru.comm



What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at Penn State?

cru ole missThis is part of a series: Learning from Large Cru Movements- a look at 8 of the largest Cru movements in the U.S.  Read the Series intro here.

Overview of the Movement at Ole Miss

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 21,000 students attend Ole Miss
  • The campus is 50-70% Greek
    • 95 students in a pledge class
  • 350-400 at weekly meeting (at end of spring)
  • 1000 freshmen attend their Greek Bible studies
  • 65 students go on Spring Break trip to Italy
  • What is the next biggest ministry on campus? RUF – 300 at meetings
  • Isaac Jenkins (a Razorback grad!) has been the Director at Ole Miss for __ years
    • Issac is THE expert on reaching Greeks. He is the go-to guy that many college ministries and Cru movements bring in to train them in how to reach Fraternities and Sororities.
    • You can download his handbook on how to reach Greeks here


Movement History

  • Cycled up and down over the years
  • 5-6 years ago, we stopped doing what we’re good at – going after Greeks – and went after multiple movements
    • We had 70 at our weekly meeting in the spring
    • We took a hard look at what our staff are doing:
      • They were just hanging out with people (talking about their girlfriend)
      • They considered it discipleship
  • If you’re not continually thinking about reaching new people, you’re movement is going to die
    • I tell my staff:
      • If you’re not reproducing yourself, I’m not going to have anyone involved
      • How can you give me 4 of you after this year
  • A few years ago we decided to go back to mainly focusing on Greeks
  • The past few years, every meeting was packed


Biggest Contributors to Growth

  • Spring break trips to Italy
    • They come back and they feel like they are part of a family
    • Italy is a real attractive place for Greeks
      • Done it 13 years in a row (started with 10-12 people)
    • Hasn’t resulted in sending STINT’ers, but has helped our local movement tremendously
  • Focusing on Greeks
    • Doing Pledge studies with all the houses (and getting the Greek houses to require mandatory attendance for their pledges)
  • Focusing on freshmen
  • Focusing on leaders
    • All of staff focus on 4-5 students each


What does evangelism look like on your campus?

  • We are really blessed- We have 1000 freshmen come to our co-ed Greek studies
    • It’s mandatory for pledges to go to it
    • We share the Knowing God Personally booklet with as many possible
    • We usually have 150-200 decisions every fall from the studies
  • We follow up weekly meeting contacts, freshmen study contacts and share the gospel with them
  • We have a Youtube channel
    • We do advice for freshmen/students
    • Put testimonies of students on there
      • Challenge them to put it on their facebook
    • Had over 150,000 students watch that channel (100,000 from dexter mccluster)
    • At weekly meeting: “check out testimonies of our students at youtube”


What do staff focus on?

  • Main question – how are you going to reproduce yourself?
  • 7 staff guys focus on bible studies in every house
  • We have 2 long term senior guys on our team (both 8 years on the team)
    • Baldwin does most of the equipping
    • Kyle leads staff meetings


What do you as a Director focus on?

  • I focus on the staff guys, leaders in the Sigma Chi fraternity, and the football team
    • I take our staff guys to lunch every Monday
      • How are you doing in your purity?
      • How are you doing with your guys?
    • Talks with them on the phone all the time
    • Only meets one on one with them every once in a while (once a month)
      • If they have an issue come up, I tell them to contact me
  • Every staff meeting with the team I tell them: “here’s what I’m doing in discipleship”
    • 10am – meet with the guys
      • What are you doing this week – who are you meeting with? What are you doing with them? What’s your plan?
    • 11am – meet with girls
      • What are you doing this week – who are you meeting with? What are you doing with them? What’s your plan?


Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • Once a month after Cru, on Tuesday night we gather leaders (40 students)
  • Staff do all training thru discipleship

Weekly Meeting

  • Worship, MC who’s pretty cool, I teach through a book of the Bible
  • At first weekly meeting: “tomorrow night at my house we’re going to have a freshmen cookout at my home” (have fliers at back of Cru)
    • 80 freshmen at that cookout
    • Staff follow up every one of them
  • Involvement breeds commitment (testimony, MC, do a senior talk)
    • So we try to get as many people up front giving testimonies
    • Have a testimony every week sharing about changed life
    • If a guy from, say, Sigma Chi is giving a talk he will invite his whole house to come watch him (and they’ll come)

Bible Study Structure

  • Do 3 week co-ed studies in each house
  • Freshmen study – Sundays at 4 – all fall



  • We don’t do a Fall Retreat
    • We go tailgate at a road trip
    • “We’re taking the Grove to Vandy!”
  • We really push Greek Summit – 17 went from Ole Miss in 2011



What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at Ole Miss?