Archives For Staff Meeting

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?


soularium groupSoularium is a pack of 50 pictures that Cru developed for sharing the gospel. It is an especially great tool for sharing the gospel with international students because they can communicate deeper thoughts (via pictures) then they would be able to articulate in English.

Just wanted to share a quick idea of using Soularium picture cards as an Icebreaker as your team plans for the fall.

On our first day back as a team for planning, we spend the majority of the time connecting with each other, sharing about our summers, and talking about how we feel going into the fall.

We pass out Soularium cards and have everyone pick two photos that represent their summer. Each staff then shares for 4-5 minutes about their summer using those two photos. We then ask: “What one card represents how you feel coming into the fall?” We’ve found that it facilitates better (more real) sharing. Having a photo representing their feelings someone helps – staff can share “I’m exhausted” when they might normally gloss over and put up a front.

The Soularium cards are also great for icebreakers for small group Bible studies:

  • “Which photo best describes how your week is going?”
  • “Think about your life so far. Which image best describes what you’ve experienced spiritually?”
  • “As you think about the upcoming year, which picture depicts what you want your walk with God to look at the end of the semester?”

We’ve found that the images are particularly helpful for guys to be able to articulate those mysterious things called “feelings”.

Just sharing a small idea that’s been a big Win for us recently:

Every week we start our staff meeting with sharing: “How have you seen God at work on campus this week?”. Always my favorite part of the meeting! But we recently realized that most of that good news of God at work is staying within the four walls of our staff meeting.

As we celebrated how God is working, we never took the time to pass on our excitement to the students whom God is using.

So recently we tweaked our schedule a little:

  • After we spend about 30 minutes sharing
  • we praise God in prayer for a bit
  • THEN we spend 10 minutes texting students our team has shared about.

And we make sure that someone other than the staff that’s discipling them (or knows them best) texts them. Hopefully they’re frequently hearing encouragement from their discipler but sometimes it means even more coming from someone else.


An example that I texted to a student this week:

“Hey man. We were just celebrating as a team what God is doing on campus and Jon shared how encouraged he’s been by your passionate perseverance in prayer! So cool that you sacrificially serve in praying for Cru every week (and that you’re leading so many to pray with you)!”


This small investment of time has been huge in helping us be more intentional in encouraging students and saying “what you are doing is significant”.


Would love to hear from you other ideas you have to be intentional in encouraging those you serve in ministry.


photo courtesy of Stephan Geyer


Scott Belsky was the speaker I was most looking forward to at Catalyst Dallas. I don’t know anything about his spiritual inclinations, but I love his 99% blog and tweets. Great, great insights on making ideas happen – systems, leadership, etc.


And Scott did not disappoint. Best talk, by far, at Catalyst Dallas on Day 1. I only wish he had twice the allotted time because he breezed through about 100 brilliant points that he could have camped out on for hours.

My favorite takeaway (among the MANY):

  • Creativity x Organization = Impact

5 x 0 = 0
100 x 0 = 0
5 x 20 = 100

[So basically – you could be insanely creative, but without organization you’re result is zero. And additionally, a little creativity with great organization can outperform amazing creativity without organization.]

Here’s my best attempt at notes from his talk:

Why do most ideas never happen?

  • When a new idea strikes, energy and excitement are really high
  • Then we call meetings and we have discussions, and our inbox piles up with emails
  • Over time energy/excitement dissipates
  • To return to the high of a new idea, we just scrap the old idea and start a new idea
  • Ideas don’t happen just because they’re great (there is no meritocracy of ideas where the best ideas always win out)
  • There are other forces at play


Here’s why they don’t happen:

  • The gravitational force of day to day operations
  • You get back to your desk and get overwhelmed
  • Lack of Feeling Organized
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Never tell anyone about our idea and no one ever benefits from it
  • Lack of Feedback exchange – you see the fatal flaws in others ideas but never tell them
  • Lack of Leadership Capability
  • When you do exit interviews, why are people leaving – Often they feel like they are not being fully utilized

How do we defy the odds and make ideas happen?

Creativity/Ideas + Organization/Execution + Communal Forces + Leadership Capability = Making ideas happen


  • We are bombarded An endless stream of stuff (emails, texts, tweets, voicemail, mail, facebook messages)
  • We are all pecking away at all the inboxes of our life
  • We are living someone else’s to-do list
  • We lose the sacred space of deep thinking – the shower is our last refuge
  • We need to force ourselves to be proactive and have deep thinking
  • Create Windows of non-Stimulation in your day – 2-3 hours of unplugging
  • Working on long-term plans
  • Unplugging is the competitive advantage of the digital age
  • Creativity x Organization = Impact

5 x 0 = 0
100 x 0 = 0
5 x 20 = 100

  • What company was recognized for the world’s best supply chain management? Apple
  • COO Tim Cook could be just as important in that company as Steve Jobs
  • The key to success in their study of the best creators in the world: Organize with a bias to action
  • Have an intolerance for unactionable meetings
  • Have a culture of capturing action steps – End your meeting with capturing actions

“I’m going to email this guy”

“I’m going to redraft this”


  • What ends up happening is you catch misses and duplication:

“Oh, I thought you were going to also do this”
“Oh, I thought I was going to do that”

  • It provides immediate accountability
  • Write actions down when they happen
  • Reduce your amount of insecurity work – Twitter, facebook, blog
  • Stuff we’re just doing to assure ourselves that everything is OK (people are still reading my blog, still following me on Twitter)
  • Find those things that don’t move the ball forward and cut it out or delegate it or reduce it
  • Never stop optimizing
  • We don’t want to fix something if it isn’t broken
  • Do experiments – cancel the weekly staff meeting; have a stand up meeting; see how it goes

Communal Forces

  • There are three types of people: Dreamers, Doers, Incrementalists
  • Dreamers – going to bed thinking about what new they can put in the system
  • Doers – wait a second we have a budget, a timeline; go to bed happy when there is nothing new in the pipeline
  • Incrementalists – rotates between the two; problem – create too many things that never scale
  • We need to recognize what roles people play
  • Share ideas liberally

Every time Chris Anderson has an idea – he throws it up on his blog
His community starts to nag him about his ideas
He relies on this constant pressure to follow up on ideas
Aren’t you scared people are going to steal your ideas and throw out ideas too soon? The benefits outweigh the risks

  • Share ownership of ideas

Doing things your way strips people of ownership. If you step in to correct what they are doing (to tweak it, to make it 100% instead of 95% good) – that person is now unlikely to stay up late at night working on the project

  • Seek Competition

We pace ourselves with other folks
Tuning in to what other people are doing helps us take the next step

  • Overcome the stigma of self-marketing

Respect based self-marketing
Curators in what’s interesting to them
Blogs, twitter
People can tune in and follow us
Then when we have something we want people to know about, we don’t have to spam, we just let our followers know

  • Innovation by tolerating failure
  • Innovation happens thru rapid failure
  • But what do we usually monitor and keep stats on? Success
  • How do we in organizations encourage innovation? Free up some staff for a short time to try new things without success criteria
  • Push People into their intersection; people operate best at the intersection of these three:

Interests – what keeps them up at night
Skills –
Opportunities (around them)

  • All of the remarkably successful people – at some point someone told them they were crazy
  • When people tell you are crazy – you’re either crazy or you’re really on to something

Nothing extraordinary is ever achieved thru ordinary means

What was the biggest takeaway for you? What has helped you make your ideas actionable?

Midweek Ministry Thoughts

February 9, 2011 — 1 Comment

Student Staff – I posted this a while back on CruPress Green but never linked to it on my blog. So check it out: Student Staff – THE best idea I’ve ever seen in empowering students to lead.

How many times have you heard this from a student: I want to go deep in Bible study?

I almost ditched Cru my freshman year because I thought Cru and its Bible Studies weren’t deep enough. Deep for me was studying prophecies and Revelation. Was I a self-righteous punk? For sure. Am I typical of many Christian students? Probably.

Great post from Trevin Wax on what “going deep” should look like:

  • It’s not learning new facts
  • It’s not coming up with a new list of to-dos

Going deep is:

  • Immersing ourselves in the truth that Jesus Christ bled and died to save helpless sinners like you and me.
  • Seeing the depth of our sin and the depth of God’s grace.

Not only should we implement this in our Bible Studies, I think it would serve us to communicate this vision to our students (lest, like freshman Tim, they think we’re not “deep enough”)

Great thoughts for those of you who lead others (especially in staff meetings):

“Next time you walk into a meeting, consider, How do I want people to feel when the meeting is over? Begin with the end in mind.”

Definitely a good reminder. Mental note to self: do not end staff meetings with to-do’s. End with vision. Even better, end with “THIS is the most important thing you should be doing this week”. Then end with vision on why we must do THIS. You can read the full article from Michael Hyatt – 5 Ways to Energize your Team

Google Translate is a cool free app that was released yesterday that will surely greatly benefit missionaries (and of course, tourists) around the world. You can write or speak a sentence into your iPhone/iPad and it will translate it instantly into one of 50 languages (giving the written and spoken translation). More info here.


October 7, 2010 — 2 Comments

The best thing we do every week in staff meeting is Celebrating what God is Doing.

This morning for staff meeting we’re going to breakfast as a team to celebrate what God has done in the first 6 weeks of school.  Our staff and student staff have worked their tails off reaching freshmen and Fall Retreat last weekend put a nice bow on the Big Fall Push.

Every week in staff meeting we spend the first 30 minutes talking about “Where have you seen God at Work on campus this week?”  (I got the idea from my good friend Chris Newport at Texas Tech).  I could be student coming to Christ, a girl breaking off a bad relationship, a guy making significant steps to break his addiction to porn, a new Bible study in the Music building, etc.

It never fails. Every. Single. Week.  It launches our staff meeting on a high note.  It gives God the glory (when we often try to pat ourselves on the back for ministry success).

Nothing inspires your team like:
  1. Hearing that the Creator God is present and working mightily on your campus
  2. Knowing that we get to be a part of it – we get to be used by God!

Bill Hybels with some wise words on celebration:
  • “How do you inspire people to stay on the journey from here to there?”
  • “Refill their vision bucket. Everyone’s vision bucket leaks.”
  • “You have to celebrate every mile-marker you possibly can on the way to the destination.”

You have to mix it up week-to-week.  Sometimes we’ll go with Hi/Low of the week in ministry.  Sometimes more specific questions like “what did God do in your discipleship times this week?”.

And it’s a Biblical pattern:

  • I will meditate on all your works and consider all your might deeds.  Psalm 77:12
  • Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2
  • For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. Psalm 92:4
  • One generation will commend your works to another; the will tell of your might acts… They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. Psalm 145.4, 6

It’s exhibited in the New Testament Church:

  • “…and they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”  Acts 14:27
  • “…they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.” Acts 15:4

How do you celebrate on your team?  What’s worked for you in “refilling their vision bucket”?

photo courtesy of Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton