Archives For Planning

As we head into the final weeks of the fall semester in college ministry, it’s a great time to step back and evaluate.

I wanted to share a few resources that have been helpful for our team as we seek to figure out if we have set our ladder against the right wall; to figure out what we should be focused on in the spring, and beyond.

We send out two evals to our team (just sent it out last night) to do on their own so we don’t have to take time during staff meeting to eval (we will compile all the evals and just read them together as a team). We do 2 evals since we have several AIA staff on our team and most ministry-strategy-stuff doesn’t relate to them. Here’s what I sent my team:
  • “The All Staff eval is SUPER short. It’ll take you 5-7 minutes.
  • The Cru Team Eval (AIA doesn’t need to do) will take a little longer – maybe 30 minutes”
Aside from those surveys that we send to our staff, a couple other helpful resources to help you evaluate your ministry:
  • We ask each of our staff to do the first part of this eval with each person they disciple: Evaluating the Quality of Your Discipleship (I believe this was developed by Roger Hershey). The second half of the Discipleship eval is good for each staff to do as they think through everyone they are discipling:  Which of your disciples is presently multiplying? And of those who are not multiplying, what are the barriers?
  • Cru Press Green (via Collegiate Collective!) has a great set of Eval questions
Here’s the agenda for our three days of December planning. Hopefully you can take some of this to use in your planning.


Day 1 of Planning:

Goal of week – To chart our course for the near future.  To set our direction.  And to be totally prepared to get started when we get back on day before classes start – Mon, Jan. 18
We spend the semester furiously climbing a ladder
Planning is a time to stop climbing and assess whether our ladder is leaning against the right wall, to re-evaluate where we’ve been and whether we are headed in the right direction
“The organizations that matter are busy being run by people who figure out what to do next” – Seth Godin
Some of what we will accomplish this week:
  • The first 6 weeks of Spring mapped out (and broadstrokes for whole Spring)
  • A thorough plan for each Critical Path Step for the spring
  • Winter Conference details nailed down (campus times, etc)
  • Leadership Retreat at beginning of year planned out
  • Our evangelistic strategy mapped out for Spring
  • Connecting with one another
Today= Where we are headed and where we are (Current Reality)
Go thru compiled evals 
In light of those evals, what should discuss/figure out this week:
Current Reality (reality is our friend)
Numbers in Bible studies
how many freshmen involved
How are we on our goals for this year?
Count # of students who have shared their faith
5 year Dream
We just diagnosed where we are
Where are we going?
Where do you want to go?
What would it look like to have faith and trust the Lord for more?  Let’s go for it!  Where are we going? Have we lost vision for reaching the whole campus?  Reaching all of the pockets?
Ministry vs Movement

A ministry can mean you’re doing great stuff – connecting the lost to Jesus and seeing lives change.But if we stop there, we just have a ministryA ministry is content with haphazard, dead end, life change.Dead end in that students rarely multiply their lives.Haphazard in that we’re content with seeing random students experience life change but they never are called to work together to a greater purpose, a mission, a cohesive vision for something bigger than themselvesA movement is going somewhere together through multiplicationSpecifically – a ministry becomes a movement when people begin to multiply their lives into others AND they are moving somewhere togetherNot just scattershot. But multiplication in a particular direction. Specifically for us, our vision is that everyone on campus would know someone who passionately follows Christ. So we want students multiplying their lives until everyone on campus hears about Christ from a friend.

Read 12 year planlink
Where are we at on the 12 year plan?

Brainstorm: Where do we want to be by 2020 [for frame of reference, our previous 5 year plan)?

DEVO – Jesus is better than ministry success or lack of success!
Devo – the gospel – succeed or fail – we have Jesus – our identity in him
Luke 10:17-20
We need to remember that our identity is in Christ – not in ministry success/failure
Psalm 4:7-8
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.CH Mackintosh in his commentary on Exodus:
“The one who will present Christ to others must be occupied with Christ for himself. Happy is the one who ministers in this way, whatever be the success or reception of his ministry. For should his ministry fail to attract attention, to command influence or to produce apparent results, he has his sweet retreat and his unfailing portion in Christ of which nothing can deprive him. Whereas the person who is merely feeding upon the fruits of his ministry, who delight in the gratification which it affords or the attention & interest which it commands, is like a mere pipe conveying water to others while retaining only rust for himself. This is a most deplorable condition to be in, and yet it’s the actual condition of every servant who is more occupied with his work and its results than with the Master and His glory.”

No matter how the fall went – fail or succeed, I have Christ.

Paul David Tripp has said, “It is very tempting to try to get your identity from your ministry success.” And the opposite is true as well – it’s very tempting to let ministry “failure” define you and shape your trust in God.I’ll let Tripp continue to preach (from his excellent book Dangerous Calling).

He identifies several things that pastors uniquely struggle with. #1? I LET MINISTRY DEFINE MY IDENTITY.

“Because you have a secure identity as a child of God, you don’t need to seek identity from the success of your ministry. You can do this because your standing with God is not based on your performance but on the perfect obedience of Christ. You need to preach these truths to yourself daily, because in ministry you either seek to get identity from your ministry or stand firm and secure in the identity you have been given in Christ.”

“Human beings are always assigning to themselves some kind of identity. There are only two places to look. Either you will be getting your identity vertically, from who you are in Christ, or you will be shopping for it horizontally in the situations, experiences, and relationships of your daily life. This is true of everyone, but I am convinced that getting one’s identity horizontally is a particular temptation for those in ministry.”
“The success of a ministry is always more a picture of who God is than a statement about who the people are that he is using for his purpose.”


Day 2 of Planning:

Prayer – For the Day, Wisdom, Pray for Winter Conference
5 Year Dream follow up convo
Good springs lead to good falls
Ask-> What would make a good fall (especially in terms of student leadership)?
When it comes to the fall, it’s all about manpower. If it’s just your staff team and 4 student leaders pursuing freshmen, you have a long road ahead of you. But if you line up 60 students in the spring who will focus on reaching freshmen, the fall will be good.
So the spring is the time to get your “reaching-freshmen-team” together. And to build consensus that we MUST reach freshmen.
And all this happens largely by raising up as many Community Group Leaders as possible.
So everything you do in the spring should contribute to assembling this team of leaders (tomorrow I’ll share some of the changes we made to be more focused on this with our spring).
  • #1 goal = getting students signed up to be CG leaders
  • January = getting people into CG
  • February = Discipleship/identifying future multipliers
  • March = Getting CG leaders for fall
Come up with Spring Plan

Based on current reality, what do we need to do?


Day 3 of Planning:

Leadership Retreat Plan

  • Leadership Retreat – coed, FUN, elements of content, overnight, just for leaders, Free!
Talk through each of our Critical Path Steps as it relates to the Spring
Eval Cru meeting
  • What do we want to keep doing?What do we need to change?
What do days look like during Christmas Break
You’re working full time (just not on campus)
Look at schedule 9-5

What you could spend time on:

  • Vision Dinner- Table Host and Silent Auction
  • MPD
  • New Staff Development
  • Meet with students
  • Winter Conference job
  • Any Admin wrap up
  • Take your vacation time if you have not already
Pray together over Spring
Recap what we accomplished this week
Sharing as a team about what each of us are doing over Christmas
A friend of mine who leads Cru at LSU asked what I as a Director do to get ready for the fall.


Thought I’d share my email I sent him in case it’s helpful for anyone else!


What I usually do to get ready for the fall is read back over all our notes from our 4 days of spring planning (kept in Google Drive). Just get myself up to speed. Then I look over the the first four weeks calendar. Here’s ours:
1st 4 weeks of class Calendar 2015

Then I do a few things:

  • Remind myself there are 3 things your staff need.
  • Appoint one of your staff as first week director:
    • leads cookouts and other outreaches we do during move in week
    • makes sure spiritual interest tables are set up and manned
  • Appoint one of your staff as follow up director
    • The primary responsibilities are:
    • Overseeing the follow-up of spiritual interest Cards
    • Launching of Community Groups (tracking with leaders on whether they’re following up and inviting to their CG, getting students plugged in)
  • Assign a couple of your staff to run point on the two night student leadership retreat
  • Those director roles help free you up to see the whole instead of stressing about the details
  • Line up pastors to speak at our first 3 Cru Meetings
  • Confirm details for fall retreat – speaker, location, band, start work on brochure/promo video
  • Send out an email to our team, encouraging them to get all personal things done before they report back. I usually email something like this:
    • “Please have all your personal stuff done before next week (moving in, raising support, prayer letter, etc) as we will be pretty slammed starting Aug. 5 (so take advantage of the next few days to get all personal stuff done!)”
  • Then I meet with my co-leader, Katie Aist. We usually meet twice (2 hours each day), to start planning out each planning day.


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

  • Day 1 – connecting as a family; immediate to-do’s
    • I think it’s helpful to have a new staff/intern orientation (for new staff and interns) – One of our senior staff leads that in the afternoon after planning. Here’s our content.
  • Day 2 – nailing down critical path steps; refresher on what we planned in the spring
  • Day 3 – Vision and Clarity of Job What does it look like for me/us to succeed?
  • Day 4 – split men/women to nail down student community group leaders and discipleship
  • Day 5 – odds and ends; vision for sending
  • 2 full Fun Days (usually one with kids and everyone. Then one with just adults – split men/women)


What helps you prep for the fall?


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

  1. Connect as a family (who) – 71% of Millennials want their coworkers to be a second family
  2. Direction and clarity of role (what) – what does it look like for me/us to succeed?
  3. Vision for reaching college students (why) – “You can pretty much assume that most staff return [in the fall] willing and able but not very motivated and with little or no vision.”

feet on dock

A few helpful starting-the-fall tips for Team Leaders:

  • Encourage staff to get all personal things done before they report back. I usually email something like this:
    • “Please have all your personal stuff done before next week (moving in, raising support, prayer letter, etc) as we will be pretty slammed starting Aug. 8 (so take advantage of the next few days to get all personal stuff done!)”
  • I highly recommend reading this short article – Orienting Your Team
  • Pick staff to fill two key roles: First Week Director and Follow Up Director. This frees the Team Leader to focus on the team/movement instead of the millions of details associated with the First 4 Weeks.
  • Don’t assume that everyone is on the same page as far as Ministry Philosophy. Communicate clearly on how we do things. We have a one page sheet called “How we do Ministry – One Page” which, as you would expect, tells our entire philosophy of ministry on one page!
  • Discuss Team Norms together (how we operate as a team)


I think it’s always interesting to see how other teams operate.

Here’s what our planning week looks like:

  • 2 days of planning 9-noon. Afternoons spent working on reserving locations, getting donations from local businesses (for door prizes for cookouts), working in smaller groups with other staff on specific tasks
  • 3 days on a staff retreat (all fun/no work)
  • 2 more days planning 9-noon. Afternoons working on team to-do’s.
  • 2 night student leadership retreat
  • First Cookout and Move in Week activities

Team Leaders- what do you do with your team before the school year begins?

Staff – what are your primary needs going into the year?


photo courtesy of  Yasin Hassan – ياسين حسن

Our job as leaders is to see what others don’t see- to look at the same reality that everyone experiences and be able to perceive what is really going on and what needs to happen next.

A big part of that is accomplished through concentrated days of Team Planning – where we chart our course for a new year.

In most of college ministry, that time is now.

So toward that end here is some, hopefully, very practical stuff you can use to set up your planning time:


A couple key thoughts on planning:

  • Click to read yesterday’s post on our favorite way to do planning
  • We are big fans of Buckets and Holes solutions:
    • Using what we’re good at to fix what we’re bad at
  • We’re not scrapping our methods and long term goals every year and starting from scratch.
    • Our planning is framed by a 12 year plan to accomplish the vision: “that everyone on campus would know someone who passionately follows Christ”
    • We’re committed to building a movement by reaching a progressively larger freshman class every year and reaching more pockets of campus (If you’re not real sure how to go about Movement Building on a college campus, read this article: Taking a Movement from 20 to 200 )
    • So what we ARE planning is: “what do we need to do THIS year to reach a larger freshman class and more pockets of campus?”


Good analogies for planning:

  • We spend the semester furiously climbing a ladder
  • Planning is a time to stop climbing and assess whether our ladder is leaning against the right wall, to re-evaluate where we’ve been and whether we are headed in the right direction


  • Imagine we’re on a long trek thru a dense forest
  • We spend the semester plowing thru underbrush and pushing aside branches that are hitting us in the face
  • This is an opportunity to climb to the top of the tallest tree and see where we are at – to check our surroundings, look back on progress so far, and to scout out what lies ahead
  • To figure out if we’ve even been heading in the right direction


Some good questions to help you assess your movement in different ways:

  • If you were to ask a _____, what would they say about Cru (your ministry)?
    • Greek student
    • Avg freshman in dorm
    • Intl Student
    • African American student
    • Athlete
    • Hispanic student
    • Student from another ministry
    • Administration
  • What kind of people want to come to our movement?
  • Who is most invested in our movement right now?
  • Who is NOT coming to our movement? Why?
  • What kind of people have come to Christ through our movement?
  • Who are we uniquely positioned to reach?
  • Who are the “connectors” in our movement? Who can they reach?
  • If we got kicked off campus and they brought in an entirely new team, what would the new team change or do different?
  • As you look at how staff and students spend their time every week, what needs to change for the sake of effectiveness?
  • Are we attracting natural leaders? If not, what could we do differently that might help us?


Lastly, a few great planning quotes:

“The organizations that matter are busy being run by people who figure out what to do next” – Seth Godin

 “Breakthrough results come about by a series of good decisions diligently executed and accumulated one on top of another.” – Jim Collins

 “You will see less happen in one year than you would ever think, but you will see more happen in five years than you would ever dream.” – Jim Sylvester

“Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.” – Dee Hock

“You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” — Alvin Toffler

“The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas.” — Linus Pauling

“Chance favors the prepared mind” – Louis Pasteur


photo courtesy of  sierragoddess

This is the best idea I’ve ever come across for planning.

How do you take all that is going on in your movement (the good and bad) and all you hope to accomplish (with often conflicting team opinions on what we should focus on next) and make sense of it all to determine what your team needs to focus on in the fall?

A few years ago I read the book The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam. The author described a brilliant way to take a LOT of information/issues/problems and emerge with THE best solution. We’ve found this approach to be incredibly effective and a lot of fun (something no one has ever accused PrEFACE of!).

Roam calls it the garage-sale principle:

“Regardless of how well organized all the stuff in our garage may be, laying everything out on tables in the light of day yields a completely new perspective on it all. The same is true of data: when it is packed away in individual files and records, it’s impossible to look at the big picture – but getting everything out in the open makes otherwise invisible connections visible… great ideas emerged as people really looked at everything for the first time.”

The single best way to effectively to look at a lot of data is to take everything we’ve collected and lay it out side by side, where our eyes can scan it all in a few passes.


So how do you set it up?

  • Gather all the information (this is actually the hardest work) – get accurate stats on EVERYTHING you can. Send out staff evals to have them evaluate the current reality of the movement (here’s two we use: 1 & 2).
  • Print out all your data and information about your current reality on sheets of paper and really big sticky notes.
  • For staff planning get a conference room and cover every inch of wall with information on the current reality of your movement.
  • You want both:
    • Qualititative analysis of your movement (pictures, descriptions)
      • We have everyone draw a picture of our movement and then share it with the team
      • “What words or phrases would you use to describe the feel of our movement?”
    • Quantitative (numbers, spreadsheets!)
      • Now, I know some of you may balk at spreadsheets – I mean we are about lives being changed not numbers. But Dan Roam sums it up well: “spreadsheets are excellent tools for spreading out a lot of data on a single sheet.”
      • And without fail, numbers are what bring the most productive ideas for change as we can quickly see where we are doing well and where we are lacking.
  • Then give everyone a few minutes just to take it all in.
  • And ask something simple like, “what do you see?”

Once you lay out all the information in front of you, you can then begin to see it with more clarity.

You begin to see:

  • patterns (“we’ve had the same number of freshmen for 4 years straight” or “we’ve seen fewer people come to Christ each year”),
  • contradicting data (“this doesn’t make sense: we did WAY more first week surveys this year but the exact same number of freshmen as always – why?”),
  • what we are doing well at
  • where there are gaping holes

Here’s some of what we put up on the wall:

  • 5 Year Goals (which is an entire page of dreams we have for 2015)
  • Priority steps from our Strategic Plan from this past year (a reminder of what we focused on)
  • Goals for the year (that we brainstormed in Aug 2011) vs. reality now
  • Year Calendar (just to refresh memories on what we did this year):
    • Fall
    • Move-in week (cookouts)
    • First week – Surveys and Dorm Studies
    • Fall Retreat
    • TWC
    • Spring
    • Leadership Retreat
    • Spring Break Trips
    • Fellowship Dinner
    • Legacy Dinner
  • Our Vision Statement – printed big on a page:
    • That everyone would know someone who passionately follows Jesus
  • The following stats are most effective if you can compare to the last few years
    • # of Community Group Leaders (going into the fall)
    • # in Community Group (broken down by guys/girls AND fish/soph/jr/sr)
    • Trusted Christ
    • Summer Project (# applied AND # going)
    • Fall Retreat #’s
    • Winter Conference #’s
    • Legacy Dinner attendance (end of year banquet)
    • Involved New Believers
    • M29 Leadership (# attending weekly Leadership meeting)
    • Cru #’s avg in the Fall
    • # at last Cru in the Spring
    • # at Cru 1st week in Fall
    • # of 1st Week Spiritual Interest Surveys
    • # in Dorm Studies (big co-ed studies we do week 1&2 in fall)
    • Freshman in CG in April
    • Intern/Stint/Staff (how many laborers raised up in each of these categories)
    • Number Men/Women Discipled (start of fall/end of spring)
    • Seniors Sent
    • Times shared gospel (broken down by: 1st 4 weeks/rest of fall/spring)

As we look at it all, we record staff’s thoughts on big stickies under three categories:

  • Holes (“wow, we did not share our faith much this spring”)
  • Sustained Growth (how do we improve on what we are already good at? – “we’ve seen a big jump in SP #’s, how do we keep momentum there?”)
  • Connections (not sure if it’s a strength or weakness – just an observation: “it seems like our studies that did really well were led by juniors”)

At the end we give our staff 3-4 minutes to write their initials next to three things they think we should dig into more (and focus on during planning).

Out of that comes our 3-4 Priority Steps for the Fall.


Would love to hear from you:

  • What stats do you track year to year?
  • What do you do in your planning for the fall?
  • What Evals do you use?


Feel free to email me if you want more details on any of this (like I can send you the spreadsheet we use to track things!): timDOTcasteelATuscmDOTorg


Part 3 of a series on Planning for Year 2023 – click to read parts 1 & 2

“Without specific team goals, team members become confused and revert only to what they like to do or want to do. Goals that motivate always contain a ‘stretch element’ to them. In other words, they go beyond what you did last year and cannot be accomplished by simply plugging in last year’s methods and strategies. Most staff would rather fail at attempting something great than to succeed at something mediocre that just feels like failure.”
Eric Swanson

As a new staff, I always found the setting of our team goals to be rather arbitrary:

Team Leader: “OK, we had 50 coming to Cru last year, what should our goal be this year team?”

Staff 1: “I think we’ll have 75 this year”

Staff 2: “Why?”

Staff 1: “I don’t know – because 75 is a little more than 50?”

Staff 2: “Where’s your faith? Let’s add a zero! We’re going to have 500 this year!”

Staff 1: “You’re an idiot”

Staff 2: “No, I have faith”

Team Leader: “Ok, 60 it is.”

Staff 3 (me) texts to staff 4: “SMH” (that is, if we’d had cell phones back then)


So how in the world do you set goals that are full of faith AND realistic?

We’ve found the steps Jim Sylvester lays out to be very helpful. We rely VERY heavily on this model for our yearly goals. And it’s uncanny how accurate it has been for us, year after year.

At the end of his (119 page!) article Principles God Honors, Jim lays out a Step By Step Growth of a Movement.

Jim’s proven timeline has helped us set incredibly faith-stretching goals that are based in reality.


I’ll list out the years (with his descriptions of each year) below. A couple questions to ask yourself/your team:

  • What year are we currently in?
  • What should be our goals for this year be?
  • What will it take to make those goals a reality?


I would love to know – how does your team determine numerical goals?


Jim Sylvester’s Step by Step Growth of a Movement

His caveat: “This is merely a model from our campus at Ohio State. This is to he adapted to each unique campus. On a campus where Greeks are the most dominant social group, one would target Freshman Greeks very heavily. On our campus we found the dorms and RAs as the dominant social group, so we started there.”


Year One

  • Staff Team – Make sure staff team is on board in areas of ministry philosophy and commitment level.
  • Commitment – make sure staff are using their time wisely (i.e. 35 “hot hours”)
  • Reality is my friend. Time is my friend.
  • Working with students is messy. Since we are committed to working with students, we are willing to live with messy.


Year Two

  • Create a socially sharp atmosphere. Seek to bring leaders and other socially sharp individuals into the movement. Socially sharp individuals visible at meetings; make the atmosphere attractive and comfortable with quality activities. There has to be an atmosphere where men feel comfortable – AIA emphasis etc.


Year Three – Foundational Freshmen Class

  • These will be the leaders of the movement in 2-3 years. The entire movement is focused on the Freshman class.
  • Freshmen class of 80
  • This takes 120 Freshmen entering Freshmen studies in September
  • The gospel shared individually with about 1,500 Freshmen.
  • In the first 4 weeks, staff share Christ with 50 new students.
  • A student planned and student run movement


Year Four – Movement Maker Class

  • 80 freshmen who will return 40 strong as sophomores
  • 120 or more students attending weekly meeting.
  • Send 25 students on summer projects. (High percent from foundational class.)


Year Five – The Over-the-Hill class

  • 100 freshmen in discovery groups by the end of the year.
  • Cru meeting over 200.
  • Presence in all the dorms.
  • Movements starting in the Geek system, athletes, band, international students, and ethnic minorities.
  • 40 Students going on summer projects.
  • 40 + Students leading successful small groups.
  • Expansion campuses a major focus; they feel absolutely a part of the whole.
  • Hearts that pray – a prayer movement in place.
  • Ownership and love for the partnership country.
  • Students want and value training. 60-80 students come to training.
  • Student ownership runs deep.


Year Six

  • Win a Freshman class of 160
  • 300 people at Cru meeting.
  • 300 students involved in small group Bible studies.
  • Daily Prayer drawing 25 students; as large as 50 for Praise God Its Friday.
  • 50 students going on summer projects.
  • Students involved from every segment of campus.
  • Expansion campuses now flourishing, we’re now on 1 campus for every two of our staff.
  • A rich love for Jesus permeates movement.
  • Students are sacrificial for the cause.
  • Movement has a heart for laborers.
  • Praying for awakening and God’s hand in our movement.
  • Burdened for the lost and the needs of the world.
  • Model student leaders and spokesmen.
  • Students are captured by the campus vision & our potential for impacting the world.


Year Seven

  • 400 + at Cru.
  • 400 students in small groups.
  • Win a freshmen class that will return 100 involved sophomores (i.e. 200 freshmen in groups in April)
  • 60+ students going on summer projects stateside and worldwide.
  • Our expansion campuses have movements of over 50 and feel a part of the whole.
  • 10 seniors graduate and come on our staff or go on stint, 5 other students go into full-time ministry or seminary.
  • Continue previously mentioned health characteristics.
  • Major presence in the Greek system, with athletes, African Americans, Internationals.


Year Eight – The Saturation Freshmen Class

  • Win the Freshmen Class of 300 that will return 150 sophomores
  • Unless you are on a campus of greater than 40,000 students, this class will see the campus reach saturation before they graduate.


Year Nine

  • Win a freshman class of 400 (200 return as sophomores)
  • In every segment of the university
  • Totally visible throughout the university community.
  • Present in the areas of influence of this university.
  • 75 Seniors – 20% graduate into full-time Christian work, 100 jrs, 150 soph, 400 fish
  • Touching the world; laborers going to every culture.


Year Ten

  • A freshmen class that returns 250 sophomores
  • 80 seniors, 150 juniors, 200 sophomores, 500 freshmen
  • 200 students seeing multiplication
  • Impacting the entire State
  • Each of our classes is growing because evangelism is extensive throughout University
  • 100 students meeting daily for prayer


Year Eleven

  • 150 Seniors
  • 240 Juniors
  • 275 Sophomores
  • 600 freshmen (1265 in small groups)
  • Saturating Greek system, dorms, athletes, internationals, African Americans


Year Twelve – The Dream Come True

  • Cru: 1,000
  • 200 seniors, 250 juniors, 300 sophomores, 600 freshmen
  • 40 students going into full-time Christian work, 20 of those joining staff/going on stint
  • 80 graduating satellite campus students, 20 of whom go into full-time Christian work.


photo courtesy of Untitled blue 

Part 2 of a series on Planning for Year 2023 

Read part 1 to catch up on an intro to long term planning

Click to read part 3 – how to set faith-stretching yet realistic goals

Why does having a numerical goal (connected to a long term plan) change things?

1) It forces you to plan differently

2) It gives your staff and students hope/vision


1) It forces you to plan differently

What happens when you realize that you need to not just reach freshmen but need to reach 80 of them?

It forces your team to think in new ways – to try things you’ve never done before.

It takes “reaching freshmen” from an abstract idea/wish to a concrete reality that needs to be planned.

It makes you realize:

  • We’re going to need more than just our staff team of 3 in order to make this happen.
  • We’re going to need 20 freshmen Bible study leaders (paired up, leading 10 studies) in order to make that a reality
  • We’re going to have 120 in freshmen studies by the end of the fall in order to have 80 still in studies by the end of the spring
  • So we need to figure out a way to have conversations with 400 freshmen (if 1 in 5 will get involved in a Study)
  • So we’d better get in contact with 800 freshmen


2) It gives your staff and students hope/vision

Having numerical goals that fit into a long term plan turn ordinary, mundane tasks into vision-enfused opportunities.

Scope is demotivating if you don’t have a long term plan to accomplish reaching the entire campus.

It’s really depressing to constantly hear “we want to reach the whole campus, every single student with the gospel” and then look around the room and see you have 50 students involved. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that ain’t gonna happen this year.

But when your staff and students see a bigger picture for HOW we really are going to reach the entire campus, AND how their hard work this fall fits into that big picture, their work becomes meaningful, full of purpose.


Our staff and students need to know that we’re not just involving freshmen to make our name great, to enlarge the Cru kingdom. We have a long term plan to raise up enough equipped laborers that we will eventually share the gospel with every student on campus. I’ll only work so hard for an organizational vision, for Cru. But I will work tirelessly to spread His fame.


Tomorrow: How we set goals that aren’t arbitrary guesses about the future

(Hint: a 12 year step-by-step plan from Jim Sylvester has been enormously helpful)


How has having specific, faith-stretching goals forced your team to plan differently?

photo courtesy of danorbit

Part 1 in a series on Planning for Year 2023. Click to read parts 23

“More happens in five years than you and I would ever dream.  Less happens in one year than we would ever hope. In building a movement, time is our friend.”

Jim Sylvester

Having a 12 year plan has transformed our ministry.

The tendency in the fall is to plan the urgent.

There are fliers that need to be printed, rooms that need to be reserved, retreats that need to be planned.

But how does this fall fit into your long term plan?

A long term strategy keeps us from bouncing around to a different strategy every year.

We actually plan in 5 year chunks- in 2005 we set some goals for 2010. And this year we set goals for 2015. But it all fits into a longer-term, 12 year plan (more in a couple days, on “Why 12 years?”).

Every fall our strategy is the same:

  • Reach a progressively bigger freshman class
  • In order to build a bigger movement
  • In order to eventually reach the campus

We’re serious about reaching the entire campus with the gospel.

And we’re serious about doing it in a relational way (students hearing the gospel from a friend).

In other words, we’re serious about this vision:

“That everyone would know someone who passionately follows Jesus”


Of course everyone in college ministry is aiming to reach freshmen. But not all succeed to the same degree.

So “reach a bigger freshmen class” is not real helpful.


But for some reason, when you put a number on it, a goal, things start to change.

“We want to involve 40 freshmen this year in Bible studies”

And even more important is the overall context in which that numerical goal fits:

“We want to involve a freshman class of 40 this year, and next year we want to reach 80, and a couple years later 100, and eventually we hope to have a movement of the size and maturity to be able to TRULY reach every student on this campus.”


Why does something as small as a numerical goal for freshmen change things?

1) It forces you to plan differently

2) It gives your staff and students hope/vision


More thoughts on each of those tomorrow.


How would you sum up your long term strategy to reach the campus?

What have you found to be helpful in keeping a long term plan?


photo courtesy of Leo Reynolds

Biblical Planning

January 17, 2011 — 2 Comments

“What I would like to do here is to try to persuade you to set aside time each week in the coming year to plan—and specifically to plan your life of prayer and devotion and ministry.”

Some great admonition from John Piper from almost 3 decades ago: A New Years Plea – Plan!  The entire article is brief and well worth the read.

His assertion is that God’s spirit often arrives ready to work in us and he finds, due to poor planning, we’re not ready for him to work.

Here’s how I’m going to use the article in my initial discipleship appointments with my staff and students:

  1. First: Work thru the verses on planning that Piper lists out (thru Proverbs and the example of Paul) and help my staff/students come to the conclusion that Piper draws from Proverbs: “Careful planning is part of what makes a person wise and productive. Not to plan is considered foolish and dangerous.”
  2. Second: Have them map out a plan for the semester – especially focused on their walk with God and their ministry. Do this using the example of Paul as drawn out by Piper: “He had a general guideline: he wanted to preach where no one had preached before. Then he developed a specific plan from this guideline”.  Application- “OK Joe Staff.  You want to launch a Bible study in that dorm and lead guys to Christ.  What do you need to do first?  Then what? How are you going to work that into your schedule? When will you spend time there?”
  3. Third: Have them map out when they will plan every week specifically for ministry for the following week. To look ahead to the coming week and set up appointments, plan discipleship and Bible study material, etc..  For us, it will probably be Friday afternoon.

Another great application point for those of us on Staff with Campus Crusade:

  • As staff we get to take an entire once a month to spend with God.  Piper expects that his staff would use that day to plan their spiritual lives.  For some reason I’ve never thought about using my day with the Lord in that way – planning.  I always use it devotionally and often reactively – just catching my breath spiritually (if that makes sense).  What if we used that day proactively to plan out our spiritual well-being for the month so that every day/week would be fruitful.

What have you found helpful as you plan and help others plan their ministry/devotions?

photo courtesy of koalazymonkey

Planning is honestly one of my favorite times of the year. We do serious planning (5 days, 9-noon) three times a year: August, December, May.  Love it.

To use Stephen Covey’s metaphor, we spend the entire year climbing furiously up the ladder – planning is a time to make sure our ladder is leaning against the right wall.

We start our week long staff planning this morning. So here’s some planning-themed inspiration to help you get ready.

The most practical advice I’ve heard in the past few years came from Tim Henderson who leads the Cru ministry at Penn State (Tim and his team put out incredible resources under the name Centerfield Productions).

I call it Buckets and Holes. I’m sure Tim Henderson has a more official name for it than that.

Here’s how Tim puts it: “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?”

Here’s the (abbreviated) idea in two parts (the second one, for me, was the new insight).  For your ministry, for this year:

  1. What are the holes/problems (this step is common for most strategic planning)?
  2. What are the buckets we have to draw from?  What do we currently have that we can use to solve those problems?

Fleshed out, here’s what that looks like for us this year:

  1. Hole: our leadership numbers at our weekly training time have plateaued over the past few years.  If we want to reach the entire campus, we need more equipped laborers.
  2. Buckets: Our weekly meeting is not a problem to be solved.  It’s a giant bucket of cash.  We’ve got great momentum and incredible student leaders attending who love Jesus.  So we plan to use our weekly meeting to address our Laborer Hole.  A few other buckets we plan to use: we have a lot of great students leading Bible studies; we have a lot of students who choose to live in the dorms to have a ministry.

The Goal = To turn your holes into buckets. In 2011, we hope to be able to see that laborers is no longer a problem but a bucket that we can draw from to address the inevitable holes of 2011.

So we spend an entire hour during planning filling out two big post-it posters on what our Holes and Buckets are.  We narrow it down to 3-4 Holes we will tackle this Fall and then start playing connect the dots, connecting Buckets with Holes.

There’s actually 4 steps to the entire process and this PDF from Tim Henderson shows a very clear overview of the full process (right click to download):

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Some Bonus Planning Quotes to get you fired up about planning!

Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior. – Dee Hock

You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. — Alvin Toffler

The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas. — Linus Pauling

photo courtesy of rubyblossom via flickr