Archives For Movement Building

Recently my bosses came into town for a campus visit. As we gathered, my team shared about what God is doing. They also shared of their need, their desires, and their pursuits.
Our staff team is made up of 4 independent, contextualized teams (see this excellent video from Intervarsity on contextualized movements). So on our team of 9, we actually have 4 teams:
  • 3 CFM staff (Campus Field Ministry – focused on the general population at the University of Arkansas),
  • 3 Athletes in Action staff,
  • 2 Bridges staff (International Students),
  • and 1 Impact staff (focusing on students of African descent).
The AIA, Bridges and Impact staff are Cru staff but they focus on athletes/international/African American students full time. They don’t come to our weekly meeting or fall retreat. They don’t do anything that doesn’t help them reach their respective audiences.
Even though we have a good size team of 9, every contextualized team feels small. And they acutely feel the need for more laborers. And in some ways, that’s really good. We only change when our current reality is painful enough to make us do the hard work required to change. Each contextualized team badly wants new laborers.
As they shared what they are doing to raise up new laborers, it hit me – it’s not up to me (as the team leader) to raise up an AIA female staff. Or an Impact staff or a Bridges staff. They’re doing it. They’re flying people in for vision trips. Not me. They’re taking key volunteers out to dinner, challenging them to join Impact staff. I din’t have to ask them to do that – I didn’t even know they were doing those things! They are truly leading. And (Lord willing!) laborers will be multiplied.
A couple weeks ago we had 3 separate thanksgiving meals that were a good snapshot of the exponential effect of multiple movements. Instead of one big meeting or dinner where maybe 100 CFM students would’ve gathered, we had:
  • 40 international students at the Bridges dinner
  • 30 athletes at the AIA dinner (which is low for them – they typically have 50-75)
  • 60 African american students at the Impact dinner
And in CFM, 200 students gathered in Community Groups across campus for thanksgiving parties and bible studies.
And that’s just on our campus. Across the globe, in East Asia we have 5 Razorbacks who hosted East Asian students for Thanksgiving. 5 sent staff who are very motivated to recruit laborers to join their team in EA.
Up until 2012, for the first 44 years of Cru at the University of Arkansas, we have had one team with one focus- reaching the majority culture at the University of Arkansas. In 2012 we had our first contextualized team – Athletes in Action – and we began to reach students at two nearby campuses (a four year university and two year college). This year, in 2016, our team spawned two more teams to focus exclusively on international students and African Americans.
Here’s how “ sending out” staff to reach new areas affected our staff team. Looking at the past decade of our staff team size, there are successive waves of increasing amplitude.
The seasons of lack actually seem to cause longterm growth. Why is that?
Pastor JD Greear  puts it well – “But here’s a principle we’ve learned that sustains us when our courage flags: sending out leaders creates more leaders. What you send out inevitably comes back to you in multiplied form.”
A small team forces you to do the things you want to do anyway – to avoid Ken Cochrum’s Two Movement Killers:
  • Movement-Killer #1 – Hasty (or No) Selection
  • Movement-Killer #2 – Staff Filling Their Schedule with 1-1 Appointments
Ken says that need is “a leadership vacuum that demands new leaders (&  gives real leadership experience to many)”. That has definitely been the case for us.
And it has come from:
  • sending first
  • sending our best
  • and sending until it hurts.
Four years ago we had 12 staff. Out of those 12, we “sent” 3 to do Athletes in Action full time (on our campus) and 2 began to heavily invest in launching other campuses – which means the next year we had 7 staff focused on CFM (the core movement) of the campus.
Last year we had 13 CFM (core movement) staff and 4 AIA staff. Out of those 13 CFM, we sent:
  • 2 of those to East Asia
  • 2 to do Bridges (international students) full time
  • 1 to do Impact (African American students) full time
  • 1 to do JESUS Film
We had several others finish their Cru internships or leave staff, which left us with 3 CFM staff on campus. 3 staff predominantly focused on University of Arkansas (with 1 of those staff spending one day/week launching at a school 1 hour away; and another staff spending some time at a local Christian college to try to mobilize students to go to the world).
So the (unintentional!) pattern over the last five years has been:
  • two years of plenty resulting in sending
  • a low year
  • two years of plenty resulting in sending
  • a low year
On the CFM side, going from 13 to 3 has been a little painful. 3 is a little small – I think 7 might be healthier (I don’t think much is gained in a staff team growing from 7 to 13, besides a temporary bump that can be dispersed to contextualized teams). But I think 3 has created space – a leadership vacuum that is sucking in new leaders. We don’t have any women staff. It’s looking like the result will be that next year we will gain several female interns.
So sending out leaders has created space for more leaders.
But here is one major caveat – one reason we can lead a good-size CFM movement with only three staff is that we have developed an established core of student leaders. We have 65 students leading Bible studies. For us, a solid hub movement has been the key to spinning out laborers to launch new movements. Bridges has successfully launched this year and has been very effective in reaching international students because we sent out 2 staff and 4 of our best student leaders from our core Cru movement. Our core Cru movement has suffered a bit from that loss of key leaders, but others hopefully will step up to fill that gap.
For many years Jim Sautner led Destino (focused on reaching Hispanic students). Jim has built movements and launched many kinds of contextualized movements. His advice to me:
“You need critical mass to produce laborers and launch new movements. You can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t give laborers to reach and launch if you don’t have any.”
We must build movements that plants new movements.

Here at the University of Arkansas, pretty much everything we do in the first week to reach freshmen was gleaned from Brian McCollister. Brian is a national director with Cru who is one of the best in the world at reaching freshmen and building a movement. He served for over 20 years as a Campus Director at Ohio University.

The basics we do to reach freshmen the first week:

  • During move-in week we have big cookouts in front of the big freshmen dorms (and have them fill out a spiritual interest survey as they get a burger)Cookout 1
  • On the first day of school we set up tables in front of every dining hall on campus. We hand out something free (sunglasses, free sandwich coupon, etc.) in exchange for students filing out a spiritual interest survey (click here to download a sample jpg or Photoshop file you can adapt for your use). Between the Cookouts and Tables we do about 4,000 of these spiritual interest surveys.
  • Have co-ed Bible studies in every dorm the first week of class

Here’s the key: our staff and student leaders then follow up, one-on-one, with as many of these students as possible. We share the gospel during EVERY appointment and work hard to connect these freshmen to Bible studies. In the previous spring most of our leaders had been through training on how to share their faith. We share the gospel with every student, despite the fact that our University is in the “Bible Belt,” because the vast majority of students do not have a clear understanding of the gospel of grace. Many times we see students trust Christ for the first time.

Here is much of Brian’s wisdom on the critical first weeks of reaching freshmen –  in 2 parts:

  • A 15 minute talk from Brian McCollister walking through how to reach freshmen the first few weeks. You can download here.


  • A step by step of how to reach freshmen. This how-to was put together by St. Louis Cru which is great because it applies to the wide variety of contexts they serve in (community colleges, elite private schools, large state schools). It’s not exactly what we do at Arkansas, but very close.

Download the PDF file .


Both of these are great resources to walk through with your staff team.

What are some key things your team does to reach freshmen the first week on campus?

I was recently looking over some notes from a talk given by my friend Brian McCollister, a national director with Cru and a guru on how to build a college ministry.

He asserts that, in college ministry, the two most important days of the year are:

  • The first day of school
  • The first day of fall retreat

CalendarThe First Day of School

Really, it’s whatever day you do your big push to do as many spiritual interest surveys as possible. So for us, it’s actually the second and third day of school. On that Tuesday and Wednesday we do around 4,000 spiritual interest surveys (in exchange for a a free Chick-fil-A sandwich card). Why Tuesday and Wednesday? Because our first Cru meeting of the year is on Tuesday and all of our freshmen Bible studies (in every dorm) are on Wednesday. All 4,000 students who fill out a survey get a brochure (about Cru), a flier (with first week events on it), and a personal invitation from a student. Click here for more ideas on what the first week looks like.

The First Day of Fall Retreat

“The second most important day of the year is the first day of our Fall Retreat.  Why is it so important?  Because it is then that you find out how well you have done in the first six weeks.  If there are a lot of enthusiastic freshmen and a lot of tired but eager upperclassmen, then you have done well.  You can enjoy the weekend!  And you have just greatly increased the number of potential laborers in the Harvest.  You have great momentum and can focus great energy on reaching lost students on your campus.”

What do you think? What are your most important days of the year?

And, more importantly, are you investing your resources (time/money/leaders) in a way that reflects their importance?


image courtesy of Dafne Cholet

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?

michigan state2

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.

Overview of the Movement at Michigan State

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 47,000 students enrolled at Michigan State
    • A classic Big Ten school
    • Good academics, but not the number one thing in students’ lives
    • Good leaders, good social skills
    • Most students work 10-20 hours a week (because of Michigan economy)
  • 15,000 in dorms (largest dorm system in the U.S.)
  • 5,000 internationals (a lot of Chinese – 3,000)
  • 16 Cru staff (4 bridges, 12 traditional). Interns – 4 last year, 10 this year (most recruit themselves)
  • 550 involved
  • Weekly Meeting – 400-500 throughout year; first meeting – 500
  • Bible Studies – 550 involved
    • 140-150 Freshmen in studies
    • 80-100 Small Group leaders
  • Brian Langford directs the movement at Michigan State
    • 12 years at Michigan State
    • 15 years on staff (was 30 when he came on staff)


Movement History and Biggest Contributors to Growth

  • In 30 year history of the movement there’s just been 3 directors – great heritage
  • In 2000, the movement had dropped to 150
    • Staff team all transitioned out (by Brian’s third year)
      • (Though movement didn’t decline because of that)
  • Year three – jumped from 200’s to 300’s
    • Went from 25 to 75 core leaders
  • Mostly just the Lord – we were out there with 5 loaves, 2 fish asking God to work and He showed up
  • The biggest thing was movement building (learned from Roger Hershey)
  • 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
  • 2002 – I took 12 guys to disicple, the strongest leaders
  • Every single guy leader in the movement (the next few years) came from those 12
    • That changed our movement
    • Instead of seniors coasting out, they finished strong
    • There was a sense of radicalness to the group – praying to speak to professors
      • One of those 12 told me, “I want a night for prayer and revival” – I gave him Paul Eschelman’s (head of Jesus Film) email and Paul came and spoke!
      • Those 12 men prayed every week
      • If your senior guys are praying, you’re in a good spot
  • I still had my hands in with every single guy leader
    • They were all in my study
    • I empowered those 12 leaders – I presented the issues – “what do we do about it?” and they took it on
  • We have a great staff team
    • Tom Roby told me (when he saw the team transitioning), “If I were you I’d raise up interns who are about what you are about vs. hoping for good placement of new staff” [hoping for sharp staff to be sent to you from the outside]
    • What happened is we were blessed with both


Key Points

  • Key Principle: Start the way you want to finish
    • If you want freshmen who are engaged with the Lord, sharing their faith as seniors
    • DNA – on Mich State website– we want students to know who we are as Cru
      • Found out that we would hear different things from difference segments of Cru (students on east side would say something different than students on west side)
      • We want students to know who we are, and the things we do are not because we’re Cru, it’s because we’re children of the King – serving Him
    • Say it at the meeting (we don’t just recite it)
      • When I’m giving a talk at the weekly meeting, I emphasize one of the points of our DNA
      • Thru Small Groups and Discipleship and at leadership overnight
  • The more students know us (Directors) as real people, they will trust us
    • So we have cookouts at our house – all the men action group leaders (25-30 students).
    • Invite all the freshmen over for dinner at our house

What do staff do?

  • Normal week= 50 hour week
  • I ask them to do 25 hours in prayer, evangelism, discipleship on campus (doing the things we tell our supporters we do)
  • Each staff have target areas – 2-3 dorms each
  • Rarely do I hand them disciples – most of them raise up men/women
  • Brand new staff – I want them to raise up a freshmen group (even if they’re capable of leading an Action Group). There’s something special about raising up your own men/women (we rob them if they don’t get to do that)
  • Staff lead a team – they’re the director of the team, and students are their staff
    • I don’t want staff to plan the weekly meeting, but I want them to lead the studens who are actively doing it


Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • Don’t bring leaders together too often – two times a semester
  • Because so many students are working jobs
  • Info flows thru action groups (upperclassmen studies – all led by staff)


Weekly Meeting

  • First meeting 500 students, maintain about that many throughout the entire year
  • Usually finish stronger than we started (at weekly meeting)
  • Michigan State doesn’t have any central place to generate buzz (to put up posters, etc) so we don’t get a lot of buzz for our first meeting
  • People come almost all thru relationships (but still hand out posters to students, cups, magnets – a more personal PR approach as opposed to random posters).
  • I tell our students: We want to be bigger and stronger in May than we were in August
  • You’ve gotta give students a place to connect on a smaller level (not just come to the weekly meeting)
  • I’ve really been pushing sophomores to own a piece of the movement by being on a team (outreach, weekly meeting) in addition to being in a small groups
    • That way there are 2 places they’re connecting on a small level



Bible Study Structure

  • Have three levels:
    • Life Groups
    • Training Group
    • Actions Groups (not open to public; made up of Bible study leaders and team leaders)
  • We’re finding that guys need more time to mature so we’re adding the training group (before they’re ready to really lead)
    • Guys have to be pursued and brought along
    • We have to really go after them and develop them
  • The old training group was knowledge based.
  • We’re requiring if they’re in a training group, they have to be engaged on mission, you’re out there actively seeking to share Christ and we’re going to help you.
  • Staff – lead 12-13 students in their Action Group
  • We haven’t multiplied (increased the number of) leaders since ’03 – we’ve been in replacement mode
    • Some of our issue is that we have too good of staff (who end up doing it)
  • How do we engage students?
    • How do we get all the students at our weekly meeting and get them engaged in mission?
  • This year, I took on 12 new guys (some risky) – I gave them a really high challenge. This isn’t just about learning from me, and they never would have shared their faith except they’re in my group
    • Personally challenged them to be in my study (got the names from other staff guys – who are the guys that have great potential but aren’t currently being discipled)
    • Start the way you want to finish
    • Eventually I want these guys to finish sharing their faith, so I’m going to start now


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


photo courtesy of spartanjoe

miami ohio

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.

Overview of the Cru Movement at Miami of Ohio:

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 16,000 students enrolled at Miami, Ohio
    • 60% from a Catholic Background
    • 12% from non-religious Catholic
    • About 3700 freshmen
    • The type of person that comes to Miami is off the charts leader – If you meet 10 people, 8-9 are leaders (valedictorians, handsome, socially adept). Not at all common in MAC conference (most campuses 2 or 3 out of 10 would be leaders)
  • 650-750 in Community Groups
  • 25-30 guys leading CG’s
  • More than 120 girls leading CG’s [no idea why the disparity!]
  • 650-750 at weekly meeting
  • 8-10% INB’s in our movement (Involved New Believers – students who have come to Christ thru the movement and are still involved)
  • 12-15 STINT/Intern/Staff sent out this year
  • Typically send 60-80 on Summer Projects (primarily to Ocean City and Virginia Beach)
  • 100+ at Winter Conference
  • 400+ at Fall Retreat (do it on their own)
  • 100+ on Spring break trips (Big Break, Rome and Fiji)
  • Lead ministries on 3 other campuses as well as Student Venture, AIA, Greek, Bridges movements
  • What is the next largest campus ministry at your school? – Navs have around 150


Movement History

  • 1991 – 400-450 in Small Groups (we use that number to gauge movement size instead of weekly meeting)
  • Mid 90’s – moved to bigger auditorium and that’s when it started to explode
  • Weekly Meeting – 5-600 (500 in CG’s)
  • Over last 11—12 years – 600-750 in CG’s (and about the same at Cru)


  • For those of you outside of Cru, here’s a little background on the significance of the Cru movement at Miami of Ohio:
    • Within the Cru family is the only place in the world where if you say, “I went to school at Miami” everyone immediately assumes you’re talking about the Miami in Ohio.
    • Cru at Miami is legendary in Cru circles. It’s been huge, one of the largest movements in the nation, for nearly three decades running.
    • Roger Hershey (probably the most highly esteemed Discipler and Campus Director in Cru history) directed the ministry for years.
    • They have consistently sent our more full time Cru staff than any other campus.
    • Cru mythology is that Miami is the only school to achieve the Holy Grail of college ministry – sharing the gospel with EVERY student on campus in a year.
    • But here’s the interesting thing: Cru at Miami is far bigger now than it ever was under Roger Hershey.


Biggest Contributors to Growth

  • Miami was started in 1885 as a Presbyterian college to equip students to go into ministry – they feel like somebody must have been praying back in the 1800’s for God to move at Miami greatly
  • God decided to move
  • There’s some things we can do, but not much. Ultimately God is the one who does it
    • It helps you relax in your leadership
    • In most cases, we are just seeing the Lord working despite us.
  • Long term consistency in leadership
    • Directors:
      • Mark Brown – 22 years on staff (20 years at Miami – 14 years as Director)
        • Only the 3rd director in 32 years at Miami
        • [Mark is who I interviewed and so what follows are his thoughts on the movement]
      • Jane Armstrong – 32 years at Miami!
  • Having a really good partnership
    • Have a partnership director (not the Director)
    • What helps is Jane and I both embrace the partnership
      • Make sure our staff go to our partnerships
      • Jane goes on SP’s there
      • I go every other year on Spring Break to Fiji
    • It gives students a big picture
    • They get to share their faith
    • 24 students in Fiji saw 100 students trust Christ the first week – how can that not change you?
  • We have such quality students involved that they will attract quality students
  • What keeps the movement from growing indefinitely (why has the movement plateaud over the past decade)?
    • The larger you get, it’s easier to have people involved who are just playing the game (who are not really Christians)
    • The reason hasn’t exploded is because there’s too many students not living for Christ


Key Points

  • 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
    • 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
  • One thing we’re trying to do is empower students to lead and to have less and less staff leadership
    • The best things that happen on campus are not from me, they come from students
    • If I stand up front and say “here’s a great tool” they won’t use it
    • But I get some key leaders to use it, students will adopt it
    • We don’t assign guys to lead, we ask them – where do you want to lead?
      • Instead of having an OK study in every dorm, we want guys to lead where they’re motivated and passionate about
    • I’m willing to run with anything a student is passionate about as long as it is on course with our mission
      • One year we met in three separate weekly meetings spread across campus because the students wanted to do it (sizes = 300, 150, 100)
      • The next year we did 2 locations on 2 parts of campus
  • The pressure is always to be bigger and better
  • But my desire is to train laborers for a lifetime (who are doing well in 20 years)
    • To be successful fathers, husband, and multipliers
    • If they’re going to be successful men in the church, business, they need to have community
  • What is the culture that I want to be true of my staff team and as a movement?
    • I lead with struggle and weakness, and messing up
    • The more brokenness the people I lead see, the more they will follow you and share their own brokenness
    • Men’s time helps set that– I’m modeling for all the staff guys
    • We are all sharing our weakness, our messiness
    • And they learn to do that with the people they lead
    • In their brokenness God is glorified, and people follow heart/brokenness
    • My most responsive messages at Cru are where I share my brokenness, my weakness – “I blew it”
    • I want to model with our staff men that when they are discipling guys they are leading from weakness
    • There’s already a distance between you as a Director and them
      • They think you’re perfect
  • We bleed follow up – we take everyone we can through 5 basic Life Concepts (follow up for new Christians)

What do staff focus on?

  • Emotionally unhealthy staff like to do everything themselves because they feel better about themselves – they feel productive
  • When your [a student’s] life falls apart, I don’t want to be your first phone call
    • I want you to call your best friend
    • In 20 years from now, and your life is falling apart, I can guarantee you won’t have a middle age man calling you and asking to meet with you for discipleship
    • I don’t want the movement or staff team to need me
    • I want them to need God, to need each other
  • One of the things I want staff to own is their own Development
    • Every year I have them read Self Leadership article by Bill Hybels
    • I have them come up with a Sharpening the Saw
      • We’re so busy, we don’t sharpen the saw.
      • But if we sharpen the saw we are much more effective with less time
      • One of most impt thing for them to do is sharpen the saw physically (and for us as MTL)
        • What you do in your 30’s, 40’s and 50’s affects your life in your 60’s 70’s and 80’s
        • Stress reliever – it affects everything – we are integrated people – what I do physically affects my spiritual and emotional life
    • We are big on making sure our interns do the New Staff Development curriculum
    • Make staff do Day With Lord every month
      • Have staff email me what they did – as accountability
    • I really want our staff to know that I value them more than just a job
      • I care for them more than ministry
      • This gig we do is really doable
      • I want our interns to know they could do this for the rest of their life
        • We don’t need to recruit – hopefully our life is so attractive because we are living healthy, balanced life
        • 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


Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • Most of training happens thru discipleship
    • Things like:
      • Can you bring someone to a point of decision?
  • We have 25 students on a Shepherd Team– Juniors and Seniors
    • Meet twice a month – Wednesdays from 9-11
    • At Shepherd Team – Jane and Mark share vision and care for the students
    • Their primary role is to shepherd the movement
    • Instead of running everything, we want them to have personal ministry of discipleship and evangelism – to model our distinctives
    • Used to just do Servant Team where they ran committees and ran everything but they never had time to do ministry
    • Some are in charge of Cru meeting but not most
  • Servant Teams are primarily sophomores and juniors – they meet once a month all together (during second hour of shepherd team) – on the other week they meet on their own as students
    • They run specific areas
      • Social justice
      • Socials
      • Prayer
      • Evangelism
      • Cru
      • Connection team
  • Leadership gathering once a month with all of servant and shepherd team(and staff team) to make sure we are all headed the same direction
    • It’s our primary place to cast vision and make sure we are all headed the same direction and focused on our critical path steps
  • At beginning of the semester do a thing called Legacy – first three weeks of semester for anyone that wants to be a leader (2 hours)
  • Shepherd team did some training on Saturday AM’s once a semester to teach them to share their faith (this was totally student led)
  • In the Spring we do something called Autumn Advance – planning the first 6 weeks – 2 or 3 nights of planning – happens in April
    • Student led (staff coaching)
    • So students are leading all the events, buying the stuff, and staff are just coaching to make sure they follow thru on what they said they would do
  • In the spring we have a big leadership pancake breakfast
    • Students share vision
    • Men fill out sheet about where they’re going to live, and with whom


Bible Studies

  • Lead in pairs (Leader and Apprentice)
  • We used to think: Success is launching a ministry in a dorm
  • Now we say, success is having a personal ministry
  • Jake is leading in a dorm and he’s disicpling 2 guys and those three guys are going after the dorm together
  • But we want them to not only focus on locations, but relationships – Say Jake is working out at the Rec – we want him to think “I want to invite that guy”
  • We don’t assign guys to lead, we ask them – where do you want to lead?
  • Instead of having an OK study in every dorm, we want guys to lead where they’re motivated and passionate about
  • We want our students, men in particular, to lead relationally as opposed to us placing people
    • As far as who disciples whom and where they lead studies
    • Empower student men to decide who they are going to disciple (driven by relationships as opposed to structure)
  • 2 tiers of studies
    • Top level is a Coaching group (action group)– staff disciple 5 guys in a group
    • These are guys who are reaching out to a freshmen target area
    • I have guys in my coaching group who are discipled by other guys


Weekly Meeting

  • Do 1st meeting outside (Flat bed tractor trailer for stage/sound system)
  • Once a semester we have a week where we have our weekly meeting in 15 different locations (houses)
    • Build up to it for a few weeks and announce it, cast vision
    • Each meeting has an MC, worship, someone giving a talk, icebreaker, someone in charge of atmosphere and transportation
    • We even have freshmen MC (great opp for them to lead)
  • Mark speaks at first 2 meetings, and the last meeting and one in the middle (4 a semester)
  • Staff speak the rest of the time


Reaching Freshmen

  • We do a FSK-type thing (bag, coupons, More Than a Carpenter) on Sunday before classes start (at a big ministry fair)
  • On Tuesday & Wed we do surveys for freshmen – 1500-2000 surveys
    • Do surveys, come back and sort them
    • Student leaders who are in charge of the quads call every survey positives and invite them to the big Tuesday night study the second week of class
    • The first week we do a pizza party
    • Do big co-ed Dorm Study for 3 weeks
    • From there we transition to normal same-sex studies
  • Thursday Weekly meeting – 8:30
    • At end of weekly meeting, we dismiss all the freshmen first to go on the lawn and find the big signs with their dorm names on it
    • And then we tell the upperclassmen – OK go out and find the area you want to minister in and go take the freshmen to ice cream or something
    • First meeting – 700 students come
  • Friday – big cookout
    • Free for new students
    • Upperclassmen have to pay
    • Food, games
  • Try to have house parties the first 6 weekends (big parties at upperclassmen’s houses)
  • Second weekend – women’s progressive dinner, and men’s paintball

We work hard to give freshmen opps to lead:

  • At fall retreat we gather them together and ask them what they want to trust the lord for as a freshmen class (each class has a class time)
    • A tweak is we might have upperclassmen Jr/Sr come to the younger classes and lead it, cast vision
  • If you want to give leadership to the freshmen class, come up to the front, we grab them and get their names and meet with them


Staff Meeting

  • If your movement is led by students, there’s not much you need to cover in a staff meeting
  • Primary purpose of staff meeting is to care for your staff
    • No one has ever felt over-encouraged!
  • Occasionally give specific direction like: “Let’s make sure in the next week or two that we do the HS life with people we disciple” (2 or 3 things a semester so they can still plan out)
    • Let’s not assume that they understand it
  • Every other week we share relationally (about our lives) from 9-10am
  • After a big event – I ask my staff at staff meeting:
    • Do any of you feel burned out, you tired?
    • No?
    • Because the students did it all!
    • Great job!


What do you (as a Director) spend time on?

  • Meet with every senior staff guy every week
    • Two senior staff guys meet with all of the other new staff and interns
  • Disciple 3-4 students
  • Lead a coaching group once a week (eat together with his family, do study afterwards)
  • Save Monday for planning day
  • Tuesday – 9-11 prayer; 11-1 Men’s Time (highlight of week! We eat lunch together) – authentic community, read a book (Samson and the Pirate Monks- argues for an authentic community among men);
  • The role of the Director 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?
    • I want to empower the right people to lead
    • I’m not the best systematic guy, I have guys on my team who are great at that
    • I am pulling in one of the senior staff guys to focus on strategy
    • I’m not a great discipler of men
    • I’m a great sharer of my life, get in people’s face, studying our staff team and looking for what they’re passions are and pushing them toward it
    • I stay away from things I’m not good at
    • And if I’m emotionally healthy, I can let them get the credit
    • The goal of the Director is not to make your life fit the Director phantom
      • It’s to make the Director job fit you
  • I sleep well at night – I don’t lose sleep at night [over the movement]
  • The only reason I want it to grow is I want to reach every student – whereas 10 years ago I want to grow it to show I could do it


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


photo courtesy of ColorblindRain


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.

Overview of the Cru Movement at the University of Florida:

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 50,000 students enrolled at Florida
  • 1200 at first Cru meeting in the fall (700-800 at a typical weekly meeting)
  • 650 involved in 49 Bible Studies led by 200 leaders
  • Typically raise up about 10-15 STINT/Intern/Staff (though 2011 was lower – 5)
  • Want to see 30 people STINT/Intern/Staff this year (10 UF/10 Paris/10 around the world)
  • 175 at Winter Conference
  • 300 at Fall Retreat
  • Staff team – 12 people usually (6 staff, 6 interns)
  • 4284 people like their page on Facebook
  • What is the next largest campus ministry at your school?
    • RUF – 200 involved or so
    • Campus ministry leaders get together and pray every week


Movement History

  • 250 – at weekly meeting in 2002
  • In the last three years we’ve really grown a lot to where we have over 1000 involved


Biggest Contributors to Growth

  • God showed up – especially at a place like Florida which is pretty dead spiritually
  • Community Groups – we changed our structure to a cell group model
    • CG’s have fueled the Weekly Meeting growth
  • Students really owning discipleship
    • One student leader (a senior) really caught a vision for discipleship and it created a culture of discipleship
    • When people come into the movement, they hear about it and want to be discipled
  • Big change – how staff team delegated our responsibilities


Key Points

  • Our students have a phenomenally high level of ownership
    • Put on weekly meeting
    • Put on socials
    • Work with student government
  • Just made a decision a long time ago to turn everything over to students and let them lead (sink or swim)
  • I’m sure we could have a weekly meeting if I put 30 hours into it every week, but that’s not the best way to spend my time
  • Frees staff to focus on ministry:
    • Discipleship
    • Evangelism
  • Do you have a website? – just nominally that routes back to Facebook
    • We do everything thru Facebook
    • Plug Fan Page at weekly meeting (mention it every week “if you’re looking for more info or want to hear about stuff we talked about, check out our Facebook page – or like us)
    • There’s a small group finder on the Facebook page
    • All of announcements and Servant Team are linked in thru Facebook page
    • We have a few students who take it very seriously and will have it as their role
  • What obstacles did you face in the growing process?
    • Solving the problem of too many groups for each staff person to oversee (especially for younger staff/interns – too much to have 5 or 6 groups)
      • This last year they took 6 students – 4 girls and 2 guys – and had them not be primary leaders of Cell groups, made them coach of their group and gave them 1 or 2 groups to coach
      • All those 6 were in a coaching session with MTL every other week – to touch base – how are your groups doing? What problems are you facing?
    • Weekly meeting
      • Rooms big enough to meet in (and paying for those)
      • Were in a room that held 500 people
      • Started booking bigger rooms
      • They hop around all over the place throughout the year
      • University auditorium and Univ. ballroom (cost anywhere from $400-$800/week)
      • Got more student government funding and have raised more
      • Have a couple meetings outdoors on a field


What does evangelism look like on your campus?

  • Primary strategy = thru the Community Groups
    • They have their sphere of influence
      • They do intentional outreaches – floor meal and invite people to it; guys invite guys to play ball or ultimate; cookout for their area of campus
      • Once a month we do an outreach to the area
    • Students have really embraced it’s OK to belong before you believe (a significant number of CG’s have non-Christians coming to it)
      • Tons of students become Christians thru CG’s and getting plugged in relationally
    • Students share pretty relationally (thru challenging thru discipleship)
  • Big outreaches? Sometimes – didn’t this year; not their bread and butter
  • Did 3 weeks of 24/7 prayer in Spring


What do staff focus on?

  • Staff primarily just do discipleship and evangelism
  • Staff don’t lead any Bible studies
  • They each have 5 community groups (and leaders) they focus on
    • Staff go to one of those CG’s every week
    • After going, meet with all the leaders of that group to give feedback (2 leaders as well as sophomore leaders – usually 2-5 guys) on their group
      • How’s the group going overall?
      • How could they pursue areas they are not doing as well on
      • Could be based on that week or focused big picture – how can they do outreach better
    • Bulk of time is meeting with Bible study leaders and guys from those groups (try to get appointments when they visit each study)
    • Disciple all the leaders of those CG’s (2-3 leaders of group)
      • Staff do 1 on 2 or 1 on 3 group discipleship
      • Meet with both leaders together
        • Share their faith once a month
          • Could be randoms (probably twice a semester)
          • Talk with one of their friends from class (in discipleship, asking who they’re reaching out to, they mention somebody, and you say, “let’s hang out sometime together”)
            • It’s on the student to set that up
        • Use the Compass a lot (for transferability) and CruPressGreen
    • Also have Staff team responsibilities – outreach team, Cru, prayer, etc
    • Staff team’s biggest win is getting people involved in Community Groups
      • So staff team needs to be more focused on that
      • So they raised the level of every on the staff team to be CG experts
      • Spent a lot of time discussing (3 years ago) what does a healthy group look like?
        • Biblical Content
        • Prayer
        • Outreach
        • Discipleship
        • Community
      • Those are the checkpoints – how are the CG’s doing in each of these?


Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • Mostly train through discipleship
  • Do some random training in Fall – right before Cru – call it “Dr. Cru”
    • How to connect to God thru the Bible, etc
    • TNT happens same time – 7-8pm. Cru is at 8:30
  • Once a month have a Sunday Night Leadership
    • Open to anyone in them movement (announced at weekly meeting)
    • Required for anyone leading with us
    • Probably around 150-200 students – 2 hours
    • A chance to pull the leaders together
    • Share time (at least every other time) on what God is doing
    • A lot of specific stuff on Community Groups
    • Vision for different things



  • Staff meet weekly with Servant Team and Officers – Fridays at 3pm – about 12 students
    • Servant Team= Outreach, Socials, Cru, Prayer, Communications, Finance
    • Officers (4 key student leaders) → Meet with them once a week


Weekly Meeting

  • Staff put very little effort into weekly meeting – the main staff guy puts in 1 hour a week into it
  • Put all their time into discipleship and CG’s
  • Students mostly lead it
    • A guy on servant team leads the team of 10-12 students
    • Set up and tear down/video stuff, sound guy
  • Staff team speaks 95% of the time (mostly 2 senior guys)
  • Band – rotates 2 worship leaders
    • Have a pool of 30 people they draw from – have a schedule of who’s playing when (practice on Wed. night and play on Thursday night)
  • How do they promote the weekly meeting?
    • Most people come thru word of mouth/Personal invitation


Bible Study Structure

  • Old system – start in a freshman study, and that will carry you through your time at UF
    • Tough for people to get connected after freshmen year
  • New philosophy= Cell group strategy
    • All ages and open at all times (freshmen thru senior in group together)
    • Based on Spheres of Influence rather than year in school
    • When groups reach 15 or so they multiply (how often does this happen? Some groups multiply every year)
  • The groups where discipleship is most owned and most healthy, those are the groups that multiply and grow
  • The CG leaders (JR/SR) disciple sophomore leaders in the group
  • These groups are the main avenue for reaching the campus – each has their own sphere of influence/TA (dorm, etc)
  • We do start the year with freshmen studies (Real Life Groups)
    • We meet for 6-8 weeks
    • Sophomore/new leaders (who have gone thru new leaders training) lead those studies
    • Those freshmen studies get reabsorbed into the CG where they come from (into older studies)
      • The whole group owns the Real Life (freshman) Group even though only 2 sophomores are leading it; everyone chips in
    • We focus on freshmen as groups
      • The freshmen really get invested in by the older students and get to know them really well when they get reabsorbed into the larger/older Community group
  • Student leaders are not in a Community group- they both lead and are in it (so there are no senior studies led by staff)
  • What’s the process for becoming a CG leader?
    • Spring – 6 weeks “TNT” = teaching and training for all new leaders (mostly freshmen or new leaders)
    • How do you cast the net wide? Invite people?
      • Ask specifically the group leaders who they’d recommend
      • Announce it at Cru meeting
      • Had over 100 at the meeting in the spring (130?)
      • Going thru TNT doesn’t mean you will be a leader, but you have to go thru TNT to be a leader
    • Have to sign leadership agreement to lead
    • All CG leaders are discipled by a staff person



  • Parents Weekend
    • Our normal meeting is on Thursday night
    • We move it to Friday night one weekend – early November for a home game
    • We ask our students to invite their parents to come to the weekly meeting on Friday night
    • We do a Giving Brunch next morning
    • 70-100 families give $50,000


What are your biggest takeaways from learning about the Cru ministry at the University of Florida?


photo courtesy of randomduck

Montana State

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.

Overview of the Cru Movement at Montana State

Movement stats as of 2011

  • 13,000 students enrolled at Montana State (3,500 in dorms)
  • Typically 6-10 staff (that includes 0-3 interns)
  • 335 students in Bible studies
  • 425 at the weekly meeting
  • 285 at Fall Retreat
  • Bob Schwahn is the Director. He’s been on staff 19 years. 15 years at MSU (13 of those as Director). Came to Christ at MSU.

Movement History

  • Since 1999, they’ve taken a movement from 50 to about 500 involved
  • Since 2006 they’ve gone from 15 students living out Win/Build/Send to 150 this past year
  • They’ve sent out staff to lead Cru ministries in Seattle and Portland
  • What contributed to their growth [with some great candor]:
    • Not sure!
    • Our meeting was really cool, fun students involved in our ministry (great personalities involved who were cool and fun who were in the band or MC’s)
      • Wow, this looks like a fun group
      • I don’t think they necessarily were getting involved in a movement
      • We were more about talking about the mission than doing it
    • I don’t think I did a great job (I was just trying to keep my head above water) at thinking strategically


Key Points

  • Even in the early days, when there were a lot of people coming, our “movement” was actually really pretty small – maybe 10-15 people who really got WBS, actively sharing their faith
  • Our “movement” is now 125-150 people (students who are sharing their faith)
  • What contributed to THAT growth (of your core)?
    • 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?”
    • We got dialed in on evangelism – which is really difficult to help staff remove everything off of their plates so they can focus on evangelism
    • When we really set out to make spiritual multipliers/grandchildren, we found out, “this is slow!”
    • It actually takes years
    • “Less happens in one year, more happens in five years” from Jim Sylvester
  • We have a big emphasis on encouraging our students to move back into the dorms (even in groups)


Success for Us

  • We track/measure two things the most:
  • How many people are actively involved in sharing their faith (that’s our top goal)
    • We want 125-150 people who are regularly communicating their faith (at least once a month) – not just telling someone they’re a Christian but bringing people to a point of decision
  • Multipliers/Spiritual grandchildren.
    • Are there students involved in our ministry who are really helping students have a ministry?
    • We’re pretty focused on it and work hard at it, but that number is pretty small
    • 17 is the most we’ve ever seen – students who are shepherding people who are having a ministry
    • We had 9 this year
    • “The grandchild has to be sharing their faith” – the litmus test of the leader


What do staff focus on?

  • Their primary job is to be in their target area, sharing their faith, with student leaders
    • We call it “The Critical Event” – a trained person taking a non-trained person to share their faith
  • Our staff share their faith A LOT
    • That’s what we ask them to do, day in/day out
    • Because they’re thinking multiplication, every appt they have to have a student with them (we think the best training for students is to watch someone else share their faith) as they share their faith
    • It’s usually said “I’m pouring my life into someone” – but we say “I’m trying to pour my life through someone” – anything I do with a student, I ask them “who’s someone you can do this with?” or “who’s someone you could tell about this?”
  • Every staff have a residence hall they’re focusing on (focusing on freshmen)
    • Every staff person is over prayer, outreach, etc
    • Every staff is a MTL over their area:
    • They build a team of leaders to reach their area
    • “How are we going to reach this dorm?”
    • Each area does their own prayer, socials, outreaches, etc
  • As we look at why staff say they don’t share their faith, they legitimately may not have time to do it because they have so much on their plates
    • They’re spending all their time doing socials, planning meetings
    • It’s unfair to ask staff to do everything they’re doing AND share their faith
    • How do I take those things off their plate?
    • Students will figure out how to do socials, what they’re not going to figure out is how to build an evangelistic movement and share their faith
    • We just decided, “how are we going to focus on this one thing”
    • And what do we need to say no to (aggressively)?
    • We made the decision to relentlessly take things off their plate that are not
      1. Evangelism
      2. Following up New Believers
    • The reason we see a lot of students come on staff, is they’ve gotten to share their faith a ton as students and seen life change, and they think “why would I not want to do that for my job?”


Ministry Structure

Leadership Development/Training

  • We used to have a weekly leadership meeting but we killed it
  • But this last year we didn’t have a single leadership meeting
  • We have one overnight leadership meeting per semester
  • Each staff person does leadership training in their own area
  • We do some training corporately in how to share their faith – the week after the fall retreat
    • We essentially make it a part of the fall retreat, “we’re going to come back and get trained and get mobilized”
    • Monday right after fall retreat (for 2 hours)– students are at the peak of their excitement about who we are and what we are about
    • The main goals are:
      • Teach them the Knowing God Personally booklet
      • Get them to really think thru how to ask question to get into spiritual conversations
      • Assign them to a staff or student leader who are very skilled at sharing their faith (who will then take them out sharing 3-4 times in the following weeks)
        • Apart from modeling, they’re not going to get it (how to share their faith), so we don’t do much in the classroom
    • We give them just enough to get them out there and get killed : )



  • We don’t have any committees (prayer, evangelism, etc)
  • Everything just operates in areas – each area/dorm does their own prayer, socials, outreach, etc.


Weekly Meeting

  • We have a weekly meeting team but staff don’t meet with those students
    • They do everything
    • We just provide the teachers


Bible Study Structure

  • 45 small groups
  • about 335 people in small groups (early in the school year)
  • Studies are both student and staff led
  • They’re all team led (2-4 leaders)
    • One facilitates content, the other 2 or 3 think thru how to meet personally with each student how to share their faith


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


photo courtesy of jimmywayne