Archives For Movements

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.
staff-team-size-through-2016
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

 

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

 

photo courtesy of chausinho

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 : )

 

Committees

  • 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

Last Summer I researched the largest Cru movements in America. I narrowed the list down to 8 schools and I called the directors of these movements. In a 30-45 minute phone call I picked their brains on how they operate as a large movement, what elements played into their growth, how they lead as directors, etc.

Talking to the directors of the largest Cru movements was one of THE most beneficial things I’ve ever done: for my growth as a Director and for our movement.

Over the next few blog posts I want to share what I learned.

Largest Cru Movements

Let’s be clear from the start: Size isn’t everything.

Ministry size does not equal ministry success.

 

Tim Keller asks the question in his excellent (free!) ebook Ministry and Character:

How do we measure how well we are doing in ministry? Is it by mere growth in numbers, or by a faithfulness divorced from all results?

He goes on to explain:

“Being both excessively inflated or overly deflated by visible success is caused largely by pride and a lack of orientation to the gospel. Your worth and identity rises and falls not on being a rescued and loved sinner, but on being an effective minister.”

 

Ministry size does not determine our occupational or spiritual worth.

 

BUT, as Cru staff Tim Norman has said:

“There are good reasons why these movements are successful. Some of which others can principally embrace.”

 

AND, like many of you, we want to get the gospel to every single student on our campus.

This is something we are not just hoping to do, but planning to do.

Here’s what we figure: it will take about 100 trained, motivated, gospel-sharing Bible study leaders to have a shot at reaching the freshman class on our campus (around 4,000 freshmen= 40 freshmen to 1 Bible study leader).

 

In other words- we’re going to need to build a big enough movement to realistically be able to get the gospel to every student.

It’s not going to happen overnight but, for us, gleaning ideas from other (larger) movements has been the biggest accelerator of growth.

 

A quick preview of the Large Movements Blog Series

Here’s who I talked to (click the school to read that post):

These Cru ministries have anywhere from 400-1200 students involved.

Many of these directors have seen their movements grow from 50 to over 500 in the past decade.

Why these 8?

These are not necessarily the 8 biggest Cru movements in the nation (but they’re probably in the top 15 – at least as of Summer 2011).

I tried to pick schools from across the U.S. – usually choosing the largest Cru movements from each geographical region.

I focused on traditional staffed campuses (no catalytic or city-wide movements). But since we’re all trying to build movements I think the learnings will be helpful for anyone in college ministry.

 

In the coming days I will devote a separate post to what I gleaned from each campus as well as some summary posts on:

  • What do Staff Do (how do they spend their time, what role do they play in the movement)?
  • What does the Director do?
  • What contributed to your growth (are there any commonalities)?
  • Top 10 Takeaways from talking to these ministries

 

If you had to guess, what do you think were the biggest contributors to growing large movements?

 

photo courtesy of Today is a good day 

Becoming an Antioch Movement

November 9, 2010 — 1 Comment

“St. Peter’s Cave Church in Antakya – one of the oldest churches in Christianity.

Peter, Barnabus and Paul all worked with the Christian community in Antioch.”


The church in Antioch as described in the book of Acts is a fascinating case study on building a thriving gospel movement.

Just wanted to share a great resource I used in our staff meeting last week that our staff really enjoyed and were motivated by (it took about 45 minutes).

Here’s essentially what it is:

  • Looking at three passages in the book of Acts, what are the consistent themes and distinguishing marks of the church at Antioch?
  • What can we learn about building a movement where the gospel spreads rapidly
  • How can we be a sending movement like the church at Antioch – Are we a leadership/laborer-factory like the church at Antioch?

Here’s how to set it up (download the notes listed below so this will make more sense):

  • Read the first passage out loud
  • Ask- “What do you observe about the movement in Antioch in this passage?”
  • Repeat for all three passages
  • Ask- “What are the take-aways for our campus in building that type of movement that is modeled in Antioch?”
  • Share some summary thoughts from the 5 Movement Building Principles (that Ken Cochrum came up with)
  • End with some of the closing questions to further apply it to your movement (see notes below)

The notes and idea are from Brian McCollister (Cru Director at Ohio University) who did this exercise at our Regional Local Leaders conference last week.


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photo courtesy of tamra hays