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The Critical Event

August 20, 2014 — 2 Comments

“The Critical Event” – a trained person taking a non-trained person to share their faith.

For Montana State Cru, The Critical Event is the most important measurement of staff’s success on campus. It’s what they celebrate.

click to read more about their Cru movement. 

Ever since I heard that concept from Montana State, it has shaped much of our philosophy of ministry in regard to evangelism.

The Apostle Paul wrote that the role of a Christian leader is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” – Ephesians 4:12.

On our team we talk about success for our staff is getting as many students as possible onto the playing field. We want to help as many students as possible to experience being used by God to change someone’s life.

79 students who shared the gospel in 2013-14This last year we’ve taken strides to better measure how we’re doing on The Critical Event (because how can you celebrate something you can’t see?).

So last year we kept track of how many students had the opportunity to share the gospel. We saw 31 different students share the gospel in the fall. And a total of 79 over the entire school year. 79 students – many of whom had never shared the gospel before in their lives. Unbelievably encouraging for our staff and student leaders to see that!

Imagine the ripple effect of that…

Now, sharing the gospel one time definitely doesn’t make you an expert. But it gets you on the playing field. And it’s the first step toward building the skill and confidence to be a life-long evangelist.

So that’s the back end of the Critical Event – an untrained person getting taken to share the gospel. This year we are trying to be even more intentional in measuring the front end of The Critical Event. We identified a list of students whom we are calling “Trainers”- students who can confidently share the gospel and can take other students with them.

Day 1 on campus, our first priority for our staff will be to take each of these Trainers out to share the gospel. For our staff to model boldness in sharing the gospel. To get these Trainers back on the playing field, first thing in the fall (to shake off the rust of summer).

On that appointment, after we share with a couple freshmen, we are going to challenge the student Trainer to embrace his/her crucial role in The Critical Event and to live out Ephesians 4:12. The unbelievable opportunity they have to take other students to share the gospel for the first time. To model boldness to their fellow students.

Typically, the first few weeks on campus, our staff are out there following up freshmen like crazy. Alone. This year, our hope is that these student Trainers will mobilize a whole team of students to share the gospel with freshmen.

Our hope is that by the end of the year, our list of Trainers will grow dramatically as more students grow in their confidence and ability to share the gospel.

So that everyone will hear the good news…

What do you think about the Critical Event? Is it a good measurement of ministry success?


The absolute best thing our Staff did this past year was implement a once a month checkpoint with our Community Group leaders (we got the idea from University of Florida Cru).

Here’s why it was so helpful – our monthly CG coaching meeting kept our most important leaders motivated and missional all year long. As I said in a previous post, Community Groups are the backbone of our ministry. So if our CG leaders are dying on the vine, the fruit of changed lives will not happen.

Many (most!?) times in our monthly checkpoints, we’d meet with CG leaders who were about to throw in the towel. They had zero people coming. And they were tired of pursuing flaky freshmen. Or they had 2-3 freshmen coming to studies and had given up hope of getting a more robust study. Our staff meeting with them help them recalibrat their dreams to keep pursuing freshmen so that freshmen could experience a more healthy community of 6-8 peers.

In 2013 we lost 30% of our Community Group leaders over the course of the year. This year we only lost 5% on the women’s side and 17% on the men’s side.

In 2013 we lost 55% of our freshmen from December to May (260 freshmen in CG’s in December 2012 – by May 2013 we had 117). In 2014, we only lost 1% of our freshmen (160 freshmen in December to 158 in May). Obviously the Monthly Coaching Appointment wasn’t the only factor in retaining freshmen in Community Groups. But it definitely helped that 1/3 of our leaders didn’t quit (like the previous year).

Here’s how we set up the appointment with CG leaders:

  • We are committed to helping you succeed as a Community Group leader. I want to meet with you and your co-leader to help you think through where your study is headed and work alongside you to help your study thrive!

The general flow of a monthly CG coaching meeting:

  • Time in the Word
  • Who/Where/When
    • Who
      • Write down who’s coming to their group and talk through next steps for them:
        • Verbally process through – where are each of them are at spiritually –
          • “Are there any guys/girls in this group who you don’t know where they’re at spiritually?”
          • “who from this group have you already met with?”
          • “who is on the fringes/not connecting?”
        • Prioritize meeting with those guys/girls and sharing the gospel with them
        • Who do you want to start pursuing as a possible disciple (make sure you communicate: “don’t commit yet!”)
    • Where are you meeting (give them suggestions – meet on campus! meet in a key person’s room)?
    • When are y’all meeting? Is that time working well?
  • How are you doing in each of the 4 areas?
    • Content (if upperclassmen – what content are you doing?)
      • How is it going in cultivate self-discovered learning (discussion oriented vs lecture)?
      • Do not preach at them –make sure that as a leader, you are not doing the majority of the talking!
    • Mission (how can we help you grow your study?)
      • Get on Mission Hub during your appointment and show them how to look up guys/girls in their dorm checked – “I want to be in a Bible study”
        • Encourage them to call these people
      • Right before your study: MAKE PHONE CALLS/TEXT AND KNOCK ON DOORS (College students are FLAKY.)
      • Keep an updated contact list and include everyone on a group reminder text the morning you meet. You want to do this every week the rest of the semester.
      • Take solid freshmen girls to do follow up with you
      • Encourage your freshmen to invite their friends to CG
    • Prayer
      • Ideas: pray for the world, prayer walk, pray through scripture, prayer requests, prayer partners, fasting
    • Community – do you feel like people are starting to connect?
  • What are next steps in each of these 4 areas?
  • Plan the next month
  • End on vision
    • Encourage them – what you’re doing is significant!
    • It’s a slow process of investing on a weekly basis in these guys/girls. The little things will begin to pay off (the texts, little conversations, times to hang out). God is using you to change their lives!!
    • If there’s no one coming to their study – there’s 300 girls in the Quads who need to know Christ! Keep going for it. It’s worth it!!

We ended up meeting twice a semester with our CG leaders.

Here’s notes from each from each meeting:


In Cru, we talk a lot about being “Student Led, Staff Directed”.

But I fear that staff communicate to students, often more by actions than words: “We staff would love to reach this campus on our own but since we don’t have the manpower to do it, we’re gonna need some of you students to help us out.”

bleachersBud Wilkinson, legendary former head coach at OU was once asked, “what contribution does professional football make to the fitness of America?”

He answered: “A professional football game is a happening when 50,000 people desperately in need of exercise sit in the stands watching 22 people desperately needing rest”

I wonder how similar our ministries are to Bud’s description of a football game: Staff running around frantically trying to share our faith, put on weekly meetings, lead 2 Bible studies while students applaud from the sideline.

What’s at stake is more than ministry effectiveness on our campus. We are training students in the Biblical Priesthood of Believers for a lifetime of effective ministry. Is ministry just for an elite, professional class? Or is every Christian a minister/priest/ambassador?

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9

So what exactly is the role of staff in a Student Led ministry?

The Apostle Paul wrote that the role of a Christian leader is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” – Ephesians 4:12.

On our team we talk about success for our staff is to get as many students as possible onto the playing field. We want to help as many students as possible to  experience being used by God to change someone’s life.

As Steve Sellers said at the National Cru Staff Conference: “Students can do ministry. We can help.”


In what ways do you think we, as staff, communicate: “staff can do it, you can help”?

What are some ways your team helps students get onto the playing field?

photo courtesy of Johnny Lucus