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In college ministry, all weeks are NOT created equal. The first 4 weeks of the fall will have repercussions on your ministry for 4 years.
“If you pay the price in the first 6 weeks of the year you will reap the rewards for the next four years. If you blow the first six weeks you will pay the price for the next four years.” Brian McCollister
From a human perspective, what you do with your team and student leaders in August will determine whether you emerge from the hurricane of the first weeks riding a wave of gospel movement or find yourself completely spent with little to show for it.

 

So what do your staff need to do in August to get ready for the fall (while I focus here specifically on staff, most of this applies to student leaders as well)?

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

  1. The Foundation= the indispensable priority of reading God’s Word

The foundation for the whole fall is built on your staff and student leaders walking with God.

Our ultimate goal in college ministry = every nation worshipping Jesus.

Specifically, we want to build movements of spiritual multiplication that send laborers to the world. We want students to graduate with a personal conviction from Scripture for fulfilling the Great Commission. The primary means for all of this is that our staff and student leaders would:

Read the Bible, see His glory, savor Christ, be transformed.

Only when this happens will He be proclaimed.

“God has made the natural act of reading the Bible supernaturally the indispensable means of achieving the ultimate goal of the universe.…The ultimate goal of reading the Bible is that God’s infinite worth and beauty would be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood-bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation. The Bible is not incidental or marginal or optional in God’s ultimate purpose for redemptive history. It is essential. It is necessary.” John Piper- Reading the Bible Supernaturally

Do not assume that your staff are reading their Bibles and walking with God. Do not assume that your student leaders know how to spend time daily with God. Start with the basics. Once students trust Christ, the greatest gift you can give them is a lifetime of reading and being changed by God’s Word. The way you give that gift to your students is by teaching them, in college, how to daily read and submit to God’s Word.

This two page article Spending Time Daily in God’s Word is a great way to discuss this foundational first step with your leaders.

 

  1. Connect as a family (who) – 71% of Millennials want their coworkers to be a second family
  2. Direction and clarity of role (what) – what does it look like for me/us to succeed? The short of it- success in the first 4 weeks = reaching freshmen by sharing the gospel broadly. Here is a step by step on how to do that.
  3. Vision for reaching college students (why) – “You can pretty much assume that most staff return [in the fall] willing and able but not very motivated and with little or no vision.” As Simon Sinek says, I usually begin with this step – the Why.

A few helpful starting-the-fall tips for Team Leaders:
  • If you are a Team Leader I highly recommend reading this short article – Orienting Your Team
  • Pick staff to fill two key roles:
    • First Week Director (coordinates outreaches during move in week) and
    • Follow Up Director (getting thousands of contacts and making sure they get followed up). This frees the Team Leader to focus on the team/movement instead of the millions of details associated with the First 4 Weeks.
  • Don’t assume that everyone is on the same page as far as Ministry Philosophy. Communicate clearly on how we do things. We have a one page sheet called “How we do Ministry – One Page” which, as you would expect, tells our entire philosophy of ministry on one page!
  • Meet with key students leaders to plan the two night student leadership retreat (this retreat happens the week before classes start)
  • Encourage staff to get all personal things done before they report back. I usually email something like this:
    • “Please have all your personal stuff done before next week (moving in, raising support, prayer letter, etc) as we will be pretty slammed starting Aug. 8 (so take advantage of the next few days to get all personal stuff done!)”
  • Confirm details for fall retreat – speaker, location, band, start work on brochure/promo video (highly recommend just using one of these excellent designs)
  • Plan out planning days. Here’s what our planning week looks like:
    • 2 days of planning 9-noon. Afternoons spent working on reserving locations, getting donations from local businesses (for door prizes for cookouts), working in smaller groups with other staff on specific tasks
    • 1-2 days on a staff retreat (all fun/no work)
    • 2 more days planning 9-noon. Afternoons working on team to-do’s.

Here’s links to details for each of our planning days:

  • Day 1 – connecting as a family; immediate to-do’s
    • I think it’s helpful to have a new staff/intern orientation (for new staff and interns) – One of our senior staff leads that in the afternoon after planning. Here’s our content.
  • Day 2 – nailing down critical path steps; refresher on what we planned in the spring
  • Day 3 – Vision and Clarity of Job What does it look like for me/us to succeed?
  • Day 4 – split men/women to nail down student community group leaders and discipleship; odds and ends; vision for sending
What I usually do to get ready for the fall is read back over all our notes from our 4 days of spring planning (kept in Google Drive). Just get myself up to speed. Then I look over the the first four weeks calendar. Here’s ours:
1st 4 weeks of class Calendar 2015

What helps you prep for the fall?

 

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

First Week Fliers, Snapchat Filters and Fall Retreat Resources

The Cru design folks have put together some phenomenal stuff at cru.org/fieldops. Best of all, it’s editable (making most of it is usable for non-Cru ministries) and FREE.

The Fall Retreat stuff is incredibly helpful:

  • There are Fall Retreat designs (includes a flier, powerpoint slides, and social media)

  • And maybe even more helpful, a bunch of resources for putting on a fall retreat – task lists, roles, timelines, sample content/program/schedule

There’s snapchat filters for things like your weekly meeting and fall retreat.

 

There’s a great guide on how to leverage Social Media in the first 6 weeks. There’s editable fliers for all kinds of first week events. 

 

Cool Music


Here’s an all-new 2017 Spotify playlist that we use at all of our freshmen cookouts and our weekly meeting.

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

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

glow sticks and beach balls1

As I’ve said before:

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

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

And what happens when they hear Newsboys or Michael W Smith pumping out of your speakers? You immediately confirm their worst suspicions that you are cheesy and out of touch with their reality.

As much as I am not a big fan of hip hop nor dance music, at our weekly meeting we include quite a bit of hip hop/dance. I run the music at our regional winter conference and can conclusively say that hip hop & dance makes a marked difference on the “vibe” of the crowd. It makes your meeting a party. Literally. People dance. Especially if you add beach balls and glow necklaces (we have our first 2 weekly meetings outside – beach balls may be a little less fun indoors).

 

Spiritual Interest Survey

We’ve put a lot of effort into streamlining our Spiritual Interest Survey card. We do it with 3000 freshmen/students the first week of class – so we want it to be quick and effective. Click here to download the editable PDF (open in Photoshop – it’s set up 4/page and it uses “smart objects” so if you edit one flier it changes all 4 fliers). Click for an adapted version we use at a Community College – pdf or Photoshop. And here’s one we use with athletes for AIA – pdf or Photoshop.

1 Minute Questionnaire

And this is NC State Cru’s sharp looking survey card (click to download – unfortunately it’s in Apple Pages – so Mac’s only):

Cru Freshmen Survey Card (NCSU)

Cru Card

Our Cru Card that we use for our weekly meeting is similar but a bit different from the survey. You can download the editable PDF (open in Photoshop – it’s set up 4/page and it uses “smart objects” so if you edit one flier it changes all 4 fliers) file here.

1 Minute Questionnaire

Simple Cru Flier

Nothing special. But I always think it’s fun to see what other campuses do for promo. Here’s the editable PDF for the first (open in Photoshop – it’s set up 4/page and it uses “smart objects” so if you edit one flier it changes all 4 fliers). And the Photoshop file for the color version.

Dorm studies 2015

generic dorm studies 2015

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

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

First Week Events Flier

A few ideas from across the U.S.:

Ours:

welcome week events final

Florida Cru:

cru at UF welcome week events

Christian Challenge – Chico State – Paul Worcester:

worcester first week events

Older Fall Retreat Brochures

If you don’t like any of the aforementioned Fall Retreat designs, here’s some other designs we have used before.

Here’s our 2016 Fall Retreat brochure (designed by Cru designer Jamie Wang).

CARK Fall Retreat Template 2016_outside

CARK Fall Retreat Template 2016_inside

Besides the basic flier that you can edit and make your own, Jamie has a folder full of goodies: Facebook profile pics, slides, etc.

For Printing Flyers: You should be able to fit four of the flyers on an 8.5 x 11″ page. Tell FedEx it has a 1/8″ bleed.

Here’s our 2015 brochure (designed by Cru designer Libby Slaughter). And here’s the photoshop files so you can edit it and use it!

Fall Retreat outside

Fall Retreat inside

Here’s our 2014 brochure and a post with 4 different (older) Fall Retreat Brochure designs we’ve used. Photoshop file

Just front of brochure

Campus Brochures

A leaving piece that explains everything we do offer in Cru. See here for more details and to download.Arkansas brochure

Arkansas brochure inside

First 4 Weeks Calendar

Always fun to see how other ministries operate. So here’s an overview of what our First 4 Weeks calendar looks like. Here’s a template you can use.

first 5 week calendar

Other Stuff

All this stuff is from Jamie Wang that she has graciously made available to all – to edit and make your own.

From Jamie:

1. Cru Campus Magnet -I made this for Arkansas last year. This was a gift to their campus supporters.
2. Cru Main Meeting Slides -These are generic slides for a main meetings. Keep in mind the difference between 16:9 and 4:3
4. Cru Photos -to use in promo pieces for your campus or prayer letters, etc.
 
    – The retractable banners are all in viewing options because the files are too big
    – jpg for viewing
    -.psd file including 8 photo options for poster
-for Pages and Publisher
-Great if you need some help kickstarting your newsletters!

What about YOU?

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

 

The two largest college ministries, Cru and InterVarsity, have announced a desire to work together to reach every campus in the U.S.
Jason Thomas, the Executive Vice President of Field Ministry for InterVarsity (the Chief Ministry Officer for InterVarsity), made the announcement to 4,000 Cru staff at Cru17, Cru’s biennial staff conference.
Jason Thomas shared how in the last couple years InterVarsity has undergone significant changes.
He shared that several things have led to InteVarsity’s organizational reorganization:
  1. “We’ve been growing – new staff and team leaders
  2. We’ve had an unprecedented number of staff hitting retirement age
  3. We’ve been trying to ask our directors to not think about how many campuses do you have (what is) to how many campuses are in your scope (what could be). It’s very clear – that our focus has become every campus in the nation.
So we’ve been asking how can we reorganize around that vision?
It’s led to a lot of new leadership.
90% of our IV executive leadership team is new to their job in the last 10 months (among the 25 leaders at the VP, Executive VP, President level).
We are working to discern a 2030 vision that is forcing us to think differently – to innovate and to partner. To ask: “what could we do together with Cru that we couldn’t do alone?”
Could we together think about every campus? Could we mobilize people to pray on every campus?
We’re praying for revival, renewal, a great awakening among the 23 million college students and faculty in America. And I’m praying, “God, I want to be a part of this!
Founded in 1941, InterVarsity is one of the oldest and largest campus ministries. Cru started in 1951 and is the largest missions organization in the world.

 

In 2015-2016, InterVarsity was on 667 campuses, with over 41,000 students involved, and 1,329 Staff.

 

Cru is on 758 campuses and has roughly 68,000 students involved and 4,000 U.S. campus staff.

May God use this new partnership to reach more college students with the gospel on more campuses!

I thought this was fun to see – how God continues to use Cru to reach college students with the gospel.

note: stats include faculty and high school although vast majority involved (93%) are college students.

A few thoughts:

  • In college ministry, numbers like these are all the more incredible because every year you have to reload. Even maintaining the number of students involved requires a tremendous amount of work. It’s not like Cru just added 19,000 more students involved in the last decade. Those 48,367 students from 2006 graduated and are gone. 67,958 new students got involved.
  • “Exposures” counts EveryStudent.com (a website of Cru campus ministry) in 2006 and 2016 (1996 being pre-internet) – Praise God for the internet! But obviously that skews the numbers a bit.
  • “Decisions” does NOT count EveryStudent.com. If you include decisions made on EveryStudent.com, 84,859 and 378,564 trusted Christ in 2006 and 2016 respectively.

cru-over-last-two-decades

This just represents one organization among many churches and organizations that are reaching an increasing number of college students. The best is yet to come in college ministry! I can’t wait to see what God does in the next decade through churches and organizations committed to doing the hard work of reaching college students with the gospel.

The History of Cru

July 14, 2017 — 3 Comments

These videos and this book should be required for all Cru staff.

Cru just released (June 2017) a 5 part video series (you can watch them below) on the History of Cru (They’re not exactly going viral – only 49 people have watched them!).

As a staff member, they’re really fun to watch, and a reminder of how greatly God has used Cru to bring millions to know Him. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.

So much of what we take for granted now in Evangelicalism is wrapped up in the history of Cru. Not to say that Cru is exclusively responsible for what God did in these areas. Obviously all glory goes to God and not Cru or these men and women. And MANY ministries and churches played a role in all of the following. But Cru played a major role in:

  • Developing the personal support raising model that is widely used by all missions organizations – “In an era of falling church investment in evangelism, Bill Bright pioneered the individual missionary support model, which seeks commitments from 50 to 100 individuals to give regular monthly amounts.” Now, there is some debate on whether this was good or bad. And obviously it’s not the ONLY way. But it radically widened the bottleneck for laborers. You can only send out as many laborers as you can salary. And central fund raising severely choked the laborer pipeline. And Bill Bright’s innovation enabled hundreds of thousands of laborers to GO. If you’re on support, you may not be the biggest fan of MPD, but consider this – Cru staff made $100 a MONTH before Dr. Bright innovated the personal support raising model! Which do you prefer?
  • The rapid spread of the gospel through the Global South via the JESUS Film. Aside from the aggressive translation of the Bible by Wycliffe, I can’t think anything else that has so greatly multiplied the reach of the gospel.
  • The rise of evangelicalism in America (not aways a good thing!) – more on that below, with the book
  • Christian contemporary music (again, definitely not always a good thing!)
  • The renewed focus on evangelism in the 20th century= Cru + Billy Graham. Billy Graham brought a crusade/event driven evangelism. Cru brought training in personal evangelism.
  • Sending college students on summer missions trips
  • Using culturally relevant means to share the gospel (as opposed to the cloistered fundamentalism that was the dominant form of evangelicalism). Cru was widely criticized for their open stance to the culture. America was greatly altered by this.
  • Millions of churches being planted across the U.S. and around the world. Case in point – Cru played an ENORMOUS part in shaping my state of Arkansas. Fellowship Little Rock and Fellowship Northwest Arkansas are two of THE most effective, large, and fruitful churches in the state. Both were started by former Cru staff and students who graduated from college and longed to replicate what they had experienced in Cru – aggressive evangelism and discipleship – in a church. So they started those churches. Not to mention the incredible impact an Arkansas Cru grad, Dennis Rainey, has had on our state/nation/world through founding Family Life Ministries. That’s not to mention the number of Cru alumni who went on to seminary to become pastors- I heard the story once that in the late 1970’s at Dallas Theological Seminary, someone conducted an informal survey in his first year Greek class of 40-some students, “How many of you here either came to Christ, or were discipled through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ?” Every hand (except for one) was raised.
  • And last, but certainly not least, the critical importance of the college campus in changing the world for Christ (shoutout to Navs and Intervarsity for doing this too!)

What first opened my eyes to the history of Cru is the book:

Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America.

The author set out (for his doctoral dissertation) to find the roots of the rise of American Evangelicalism in the latter half of the 20th century. He was not familiar with Cru but in his research he began to see what a critical role Cru played in the surge of Evangelicalism. So he gives an (what I thought was very) objective history of Cru (warts and all).

On the less objective side (but nonetheless excellent and well worth watching!) – these five 20-minute videos do a great job of summarizing the history of Cru. Very inspiring. We stand on the shoulders of giants – men and women who have creatively, boldly, and passionately shared the gospel with millions of people. There’s much work to be done. It’s a privilege to take the baton from them to continue the work.

 

We’re halfway through the year AND it’s summer. What better time to share some of my favorite books I’ve read this year?

My 20 favorites I read in the first half of 2017, ranked:

  1. You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity – Francis and Lisa Chan – as one reviewer put it “A bait and switch but in the best possible way.” Not really on marriage – but about living on mission as a couple and family. Such a good book (I listened to it on audiobook). “There are plenty of marriage books that will teach you how to get along and be happy. This is not one of those books. Those books don’t account for the fact that you can have a happy earthly marriage and then be miserable for all eternity. We’ve made happy families our mission. That’s not the mission Jesus gave us. God has entrusted you with children so you’d make them into disciples who will go into every part of the world & make disciples. Our parenting is not exempt from the command to make disciples. You exist to make disciples. Your marriage exists to make disciples. This should dictate where you live/work/spend your $/time—everything!”
  2. The Meaning of the Pentateuch by Sailhamer – everything you think about the Old Testament and the Pentateuch is wrong. It was “not written to teach Israel the law. The Pentateuch was addressed to a people living under the law and failing at every opportunity. The Pentateuch looks beyond the law of God to his grace. The purpose of the Pentateuch is to teach its readers about faith and hope in the new covenant.” Read the free (50 page!) intro and have your mind blown! As a (seminary grad) friend commented – “Just reading the Introduction left me feeling like I had never read the Pentateuch before!” REALLY long and kind of difficult. But so worth it. Great to read during your quiet time over a couple of months.
  3. The Blood of Emmett Till – this should be required reading for every American. The story of the horrific death of a young black boy, and more widely, the civil rights movement.
  4. The Meaning of Marriage – Tim and Kathy Keller – I’ve read over 20 books on marriage/dating/sex and this is by FAR the best (yes, better than the #1 book on my list. I’d recommend this book first as a marriage book. And then You and Me Forever as a follow up. You and Me was just more impactful for me personally this year). Cannot recommend highly enough. This is my second time to read it and I plan to re-read it often. Incredibly practical and insightful. I work in college ministry and I recommend this to every college student I counsel re relationships or dating. Every person who is single should read this book pre-marriage.
  5. Silence by Shūsaku Endō – a fictional book but based on true events. Enthralling and challenging novel based on the real life persecution of Portuguese missionaries in Japan.
  6. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Had several people recommend this book and what cemented it for me was seeing it on Bill Gates’ top 5 books of 2016. Not your typical Gates’ recommendation (usually his book recs are pretty cerebral!). Shoe Dog did not disappoint. Knight is incredibly honest, not skimming over his regrets and mistakes. And I was surprised by the amount of spiritual searching throughout Knight’s life. The audiobook is particularly good.
  7. Darkness at Noon – Outstanding novel based on real events in Communist Russia in the 1950’s. Really helped me understand the mindset of communism in a way no other book has. As an American, I’ve always discounted communists as idiots. Koestler’s account is not favorable to communists but it does show the very intelligent rationale behind brutal communist policies. Makes me want to learn more about the worldviews of the 20th century (which is why I read Paul Johnson’s Modern Times).
  8. Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties – Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s long. And ambitious. I want to read everything by this author. He has such an unbelievable grasp on an amazing amount of topics. He truly gives a thorough education on the twentieth century. I listened to it on audiobook. Probably would have been better to read but worked fine as audiobook. I probably just missed some of the more profound, difficult ideas.
  9. Elon Musk: Inventing the Future –  about the fascinating founder of Tesla and SpaceX.
  10. The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance – a LITTLE difficult to read. But a good book to read bit by bit in your Quiet Time. This book was incredibly helpful for me, especially reading it on the heels of Sailhamer’s “The Meaning of the Pentateuch.” Ferguson answers “how do the law and grace relate?” He asserts that legalism and antinomianism are not opposites but “nonidentical twins from the same womb.” “The cure for both legalism and antinomianism is the gospel.”
  11. Dedication and Leadership – a former Communist who becomes a Christian, looks at what we can learn from Communism. In some ways this book is dated. In others, it is particularly well suited for our times. The book is a case study in how a small minority can literally change the world: “It is probably true to say of the Communists that never in man’s history has a small group of people set out to win a world and achieved more in less time.” Caveat: The book is 100% not gospel centered! Definitely “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and “if the communists can be so dedicated and sacrifice so much for a lie, how much more so, Christians…Come on Christians! Try harder!” But… taken with a grain of salt, the book is VERY thought provoking. Particularly relevant for my line of work – college ministry- as the book focuses particularly on how the Communist Party mobilizes young people.
  12. Churchill – Paul Johnson – from what I researched, this is the best short biography of Churchill. What an amazing man who almost singlehandedly saved civilization!
  13. Zeal Without Burnout: Seven Keys to a Lifelong Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice – Great, short book. Can easily be read in a week of quiet times.
  14. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania – great book by one of my favorite authors. Reads like a novel but is 100% historical.
  15. Undaunted Courage: Lewis and Clark and the Opening of the American West – Stephen E. Ambrose – Fascinating book. Name a more iconic duo. Now name one fact about them other than that they were the first to explore the west. I knew nothing about this famous duo before reading this. Their passage across the virgin west is fascinating – their discoveries, their courage, their leadership. The ending of the book was shocking. I won’t spoil anything but I was truly shocked- mostly that I had not heard any of it before.
  16. Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety – another fascinating book. It’s only by God’s grace that we haven’t nuked ourselves into a nuclear holocaust by now.
  17. When Breath Becomes Air – VERY well written memoir of a neurosurgeon who gets terminal cancer
  18. Thinking, Fast and Slow – great and fascinating, if a bit academic, insights on how we make decisions
  19. The Pilgrim’s Progress – Mixed feelings on this book. I set out on my pilgrimage to read the book because many great Christian thinkers list it as the book that has most influenced them (apart from the Bible). I did NOT think I would be recommending this book. But as it gets going, you get used to the Old English (if you can’t get over that, there ARE modern English versions). For some tips on how to read it see my full review over on GoodReads
  20. The Church in the Bible and the World: An International Study – DA Carson – very helpful for my understanding of ecclesiology
Though I haven’t quite finished it, I can’t help but include the book I’m trudging (in the best possible sense) through right now because it will easily be in the top 5 – Piper’s Reading the Bible Supernaturally. SO good. Not a real easy read. But perfect to bite off a piece every morning in Quiet Times.

“When young leaders in my organization ask me what they can do to grow, my first response is always pretty obvious: read! Leaders are readers. I believe the answer to pretty much every question you can think of is already in a book somewhere.” – Dave Ramsey

If you’re looking for lighter, summer reading (i.e. – not heavy, theological books), the list would be-

Super-easy, fun reads:
  1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
  2. Elon Musk: Inventing the Future
  3. Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
  4. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
  5. When Breath Becomes Air
 
A little more challenging, but not-too-hard reads:
  1. The Blood of Emmett Till (NOT light in subject matter, but easy to read and a very good and important read)
  2. Silence
  3. Darkness at Noon
  4. Churchill – Paul Johnson
  5. Undaunted Courage: Lewis and Clark and the Opening of the American West – Stephen E. Ambrose
I just got on GoodReads.com this year and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Great way to track your reading progress and set goals for yourself. Would love to connect over there.

What about you? What are your favorite books you’ve read in 2017?

image via quotefancy
I think Fund Raising Dinners are by far the best way to fund your ministry.

 

We do one thing all year to raise money for our ministry – a Vision Dinner (also called Fellowship Dinners). And every year we see God provide abundantly ($50-$150k).
Why a Dinner? Because it easily has the best ROI. I have not heard of much success from golf tournaments, etc (seems like they typically raise around $10k and are a lot of work; I’m sure there are exceptions – leave a comment if you’ve found it to be successful!)

 

And I personally don’t think it’s a good use of your leaders and staff to have them pick up trash after football games or other money-making deals. Those are typically high investment/low return endeavors. A donor at a dinner will gladly write a check for $5,000 so your student leaders can be sharing their faith instead of working 7 weekends in the fall.
[Edit: I should have written that more clearly. I’m saying it’s better to ask for money directly from donors (a $5,000 check) than have them invest 7 weekends cleaning up after football games, et al, and make them earn $5,000. A worker is worthy of his wages. And we want students working on ministry not having to help us raise money].

 

A great side bonus – Vision Dinners are incredible for building relationships and vision within the community.

 

My hope is that more and more college ministries around the country begin to have Dinners so that they are abundantly funded and more college students will be reached with the gospel.

 

Cru Staff: for more info on how to put on a Dinner, check out the website: TeamGold.co (step by step instructions on how to plan a Dinner, PLUS graphic design templates for invitations, etc). Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, its login only lets Cru staff use it.
(to access the site, enter your Cru email address and pick a password. After your email address is approved, you will have full access)

 

 

I recently got an email from a BCM director asking for help – he’s new completely new to Dinners and had lots of questions.

Sharing is caring, so I thought I’d post my email that I sent back to him so everyone can benefit:

  • Do you have a particular structure for how the evening goes? 
    • Here’s a timeline of our dinner – the structure for how the evening goes.
    • We have one “live testimony” from a student and then have several student life change stories via video. We save the video for the very end before we ask people to give because it’s usually the most moving part of the night. Here’s those videos from 2016 and 2015.
    • Here’s a script of what our MC’s say
  • How do you go about inviting people? 
    • We have our students send invitations to their parents (this is a HUGE win if parents come- they walk away loving Cru instead of suspecting that we are a cult; so when their son/daughter wants to go on summer mission or intern with us, they are for us instead of against us!) .
    • But other than that we almost exclusively invite people via table hosts (here’s a link to that strategy). We’ve pretty much stopped printing paper invitations (we only printed 100 this year – we used to do 1,500!) and almost exclusively do digital invites via email and Ministry Sync (an online dinner management tool – not cheap, but worth it for bigger dinners)

  • Do you ask for financial commitments there, or do you pay the groundwork and then follow-up with individual meetings? Do you primarily ask for/receive one-time gifts or ongoing monthly gifts?
    • We definitely ask for financial commitments. I don’t do any follow up after the dinner. Here’s my talk from last year – so you can see how I ask for money.
    • As you can see in my talk – I really push for monthly gifts. That way, even if they don’t come to your dinner next year, they will still be giving to your ministry. But we mostly get one time gifts. But we’ve grown our monthly giving from $100/mo to $2,000/mo over the years.
  • Do you do them on campus or somewhere else?
  • We do our dinner off campus at our Fayetteville Town Center (a big ballroom where they hold conventions or wedding receptions). But on campus would be great if there’s a good room.
  • What else should I consider or know?
    • Really, the main thing to know is what I say in this post –  that getting table hosts is by FAR the most important goal.
    • You can expect to make $20-25,000 for every 100 people you have at the dinner. Or to put it in different terms, for every table host you get, you will make about $2,000.
    • We do a silent auction at the dinner. It’s grown over the years:
      • 2016 – $12,400
      • 2015 – $10,475
      • 2014 – $8,345
      • 2013 – $5,800

 

Leave a comment if you have more questions, and I’ll do my best to answer questions and share resources.

College Ministers: What you are doing matters. Meeting with hundreds of disinterested freshmen to find a handful that want to know Jesus and make Him known. Turning over a multitude of rocks to find one or two gems. Teaching students how and why to read God’s Word. Discipling students who will make disciples.

We rarely get to see the fruit of what we so laboriously sow. Students graduate and get married and get jobs and move off. And we go back to meeting with hundreds of disinterested freshmen to find a handful…

This weekend my wife (with hundreds of thousands of other women!) watched the 2017 If Gathering Livestream. In the last couple years, If Gatherings have reached more than a million women in 50 countries.

And it started when Jennie Allen was a college student at the University of Arkansas and her life was radically changed by a Cru staff, Michelle Bost (Michelle and her husband Mike are still on staff and Mike serves at the regional director of Cru’s Northeast Region, reaching the least reached campuses in our country, most of which are Ivy Leagues).

Throughout her opening talk at If Gathering, Jennie Allen talks about what an impact Michelle Bost had on her life when she was in college, and how that altered the course of her life.

  • [If Gathering would not have happened] without a woman named Michelle Bost who took a nobody college student to coffee
  • We would go over to Michelle’s house and I remember sitting on our living room floor and I’d listen to her talk about Jesus and the surrender she had. And I would want that relationship – I would want to love Jesus like she loved Jesus.
  • As a result of that time, a lot of things changed for me.
  • [Sarcastically] You know, the University of Arkansas is SO Christian.
  • And I needed someone to tell me it was OK to follow Christ. When I was being driven through the drive-through liquor store being offered alcohol. I needed someone to say you can make a difference with your life. You need to be in the Word of God.
  • I still have my Bible from college and it is marked up from top to bottom. I was in my Bible because of Michelle Bost.
  • And all the sudden, when my friends were hung over the morning after, I no longer judged them or thought I need to be with them. I befriended them and there was no longer this angst in me.
  • Everything in my life shifted because of Michelle Bost.
  • I love Jesus because of her.
  • I have a fear that we’re about to have a generation that never had a Michelle Bost.
  • People were saved in front of our eyes at the University of Arkansas.
  • Peoples lives changed and I wanted to give my life to this mission. I wanted in.
  • I wanted to be a part of the kingdom of God because Michelle Bost asked me to coffee.
  • And that is why If Gathering exists because I still believe all the things she taught me.
  • I believe you can open your Bible and mark it up and it change your soul.
  • I believe that women with other women on living room floors can change the world.
  • And what happens if this generation doesn’t have that?

So keep meeting with freshmen. Keep discipling men and women. Because what you are doing matters. You may not see the fruit for 20 years. But God is using you to raise up laborers who will change the world.

Sharing what’s been helpful for our team…
Here’s three resources we’ve used with our staff team this year that have been helpful in keeping a razor sharp focus on Making Disciples.

7 week guide for doing Masterplan of Evangelism in discipleship. It has pretty detailed questions for each of the 7 weeks so it makes it really easy. We had all of our staff read Masterplan with the people they disciple.

From lost students to Christ-centered laborers in three stages – a super short (< one page) “article” that I compiled and we read through as a staff team. I asked each of my staff to do it with the people they disciple. To try to figure out where their people are “stuck”.
  • Are they Experiencing a vital relationship with God? (i.e. – focus on getting them consistently in the Word)
  • Do they Understanding how God works (via Scripture – open their eyes to the Great Commission and His heart for the lost)?
  • Have been invited to be a part of it?

My team found it very helpful.

Also – we read Dan Higgins’ Two Radical Commitments and discussed how we could to this better:

Two Radical Commitments

Two Radical commitments are needed to build movements. A radical commitment to ongoing broad sowing and a radical commitment to wise selection.

 

Broad sowing

I use the words radical commitment because that is really what it takes. Evangelism is the first thing to go. It is so incredibly easy to be distracted from doing it because it is really, really hard. You have to do it when you feel like it and when you don’t. When there is great response (ironically can be a distraction from doing more) and when it is really hard. Over the years I have seen staff, students, stinters and myself come up with every kind of reason you can think of why not to do it and keep doing it. It is really hard and you can be rejected and laughed at and ridiculed and persecuted. It is worth it.

 

Wise Selection

The second thing that you have to be radically committed to is wise selection. By that I mean you being very careful in who you give your time to. This is incredibly hard for someone who has just started doing campus ministry. The reality is that it does not feel kind or nice to say to someone that you cannot spend anymore time with them. Honestly you usually never have to have that conversation, they will usually self select them out.

 

This is so critical because you must follow Jesus model and give your life to those that are faithful, available and teachable. You have to choose to pour into those that will go on to reach the campus and change the world. When you say yes to one student you are saying no to every other student in your city. You must be committed to find the students that will go on to reach the campus. If you say yes to spend time with an unfaithful student you are saying no to the potential faithful ones. This is especially difficult to do when the soil is hard and there is not a whole pile of students to choose from. It also feels not very compassionate but if you spend time with the unfaithful you are saying that you don’t care about every other student on campus.

 

What you are really looking for are key, faithful students to lead a spiritual movement on campus. You must find and/or build these student leaders. You must select wisely.

Bookmark this and save it for your next conference (or weekly meeting). It’s not easy to find good, upbeat, CLEAN music. Look at the top songs of 2016 – 1 out of the top 10 could be played at a weekly meeting. The rest are explicit.

I put together the playlists we play before and after meeting at our 2017 Cru Winter Conference.
And I thought it might save you all a lot of time to share those on here.
A couple notes:
  • We aim for 10 minutes of music while students come in (at night, we do 9 minutes followed by 1 minute of an epic “sit down song” – for the last couple of years we’ve used “Waking Up” off of the Oblivion soundtrack)
  • 5-6 minutes of music while students walk out
  • For the after meeting playlists, make sure to have a song that starts strong. It’s the signal for students to get up and leave, so you want it to start loud, not ease into it.
  • Pre-meeting night meetings, we aim for upbeat, danceable songs (hip hop and pop-py sing-along songs that people know)
  • Pre-meeting morning meetings, same thing, just a little more chill – Ride by Twenty One Pilots is a perfect morning pre-meeting song. Everyone knows it. Kind of upbeat. But not too obnoxiously upbeat.
Here’s all the songs we used in one playlist:

Here they are:
Here’s a slew of songs to use during a refection times:
And a bunch of possible songs you could use for competition games during the meeting (like, we do a mattress surfing competition, etc). I can’t vouch for all these being clean/appropriate (like Bangarang is great til he drops an F-bomb at the end):
And here’s some other good songs that we didn’t use but are appropriately clean and upbeat: