Archives For Tim Norman

This is part 2 of a guest series on Focus in Discipleship by Tim Norman. To catch up, read his first post: What We Talk, They Talk About.

Today – Tim Norman’s thoughts on 5 Things We Want Every Student to Experience.

For those of you who just want to get the highlights, I’ll list Tim’s 5 Experiences in brief at the top and then you can read the description of each one further below:

In an earlier post, I talked about the need for focus in personal discipleship. I operate under that premise that I have limited time with a person to help them forward in their relationship with God. For the vast majority of students I will sit down in a one-on-one setting fewer than 10 times. Some, I will only get together with a few times. What will I talk about during those times?

I’ll share with you five things that our ministry team wanted every first-year student to experience during their involvement with us. This was our attempt to answer the question, if a freshman has been involved with us what can I assume that have experienced? These are experiences and exposure to content. They are not necessarily the values and convictions we wanted people to hold. That would be a slightly different list.

  1. Share the gospel with the person using the Knowing God Personally booklet.
  2. Share with the person about the role of the Holy Spirit in their life.
  3. Talk with them about having a personal time reading God’s Word.
  4. Talk with them about sexual purity and God’s desire for them.
  5. Give them an opportunity to see the gospel shared with another person.

So, many things we offer students could easily experience somewhere else. But, friends, modeling conversations that share the gospel is one of our distinct contributions.

[Note: This was the key insight for me as CCC staff- There’s a lot of places students can get this stuff but we are one of the only places where they will get this: a chance (and training) to share their faith. They feel like they should share their faith (but no one told me how) – so they’re loaded up with guilt. We say, not just “do it” but “let’s do it together”.]

Those are five things I wanted our students to experience. Perhaps, I’m assuming others. I know that I wanted people to go to church or get connected with the movement. But, honestly, I so rarely saw people that were not getting that invitation that I didn’t feel it necessary to beat that drum. I’d love to hear from you.

What key experiences do you aim to give those who come in to your movement?


Here’s a fuller description of each of the 5 from Tim:

1) Share the gospel with the person using the Knowing God Personally booklet.

We want people to experience the joy and freedom of knowing God through his gracious provision for us. Some students come to our movements as believers in Christ. Some are non-believers. Some are make-believers. I found that I didn’t want to assume that just because someone had come to a Christian event that they were a believer.

Last year, I talked to a freshman defensive lineman who came out to the first few FCA meetings of the year. When I asked if Anthony would like to get together to talk about how to grow in a relationship with God, he eagerly said yes. When I sat down with him, I started walking through the Knowing God Personally booklet assuming that he already believed it. Why else would a NCAA Division I athlete show up to a Christian meeting the first few weeks of the school year? To my surprise, Anthony said, “I’ve never heard this. I just thought that I should give this religion stuff a look.” A few weeks later, Anthony trusted Christ. Don’t assume that because people come to a Christian meeting they know what it means to have a relationship with God. They may be just like Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and be seeking to see Jesus.

Also, I want people to know that what we are excited about as a movement is Jesus and what he does in our lives through the gospel. Too easily we can preach the gospel of Cru or the gospel of our church and not the gospel of Jesus. What I mean is that we meet a student and we tell them how great Cru is, how great the worship is at our church, how great our small groups are, etc. But, I want people to know, we’re pretty excited about Jesus; he’s a big deal to us. Such a big deal that we talk to others about him.

But, what about someone that you are confident is already a believer? I still say share the gospel with them. I grew up in a church that fervently talked about the importance of sharing the gospel with others. They exhorted me to share Christ with someone every week or 60 times in 60 days. I always signed the dotted line saying that I would do it. But, I never saw anyone else do it. To someone whom you know to already be a believer, say “I know you may already know this, but I’d love to share it with you with the goal that God would use you to influence others.” Also, it helps clarify what we are about to others.

2) Share with the person about the role of the Holy Spirit in their life.

I’ve done this a number of ways, including the Satisfied? booklet, a couple of basic Bible studies that are part of the Life Concept Series, or just walking through passages like Galatians 5 or 1 Corinthians 2. Ultimately, I want people to grasp that the truth expressed in the following statement from the Satisfied? booklet:

“The essence of the Christian life is what God does in and through us, not what we do for God. Christ’s life is reproduced in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to be directed and empowered by Him.”

3) Talk with them about having a personal time reading God’s Word.

I’ve written about this on my blog, The Exchange.

4) Talk with them about sexual purity and God’s desire for them.

I will write more about how I go about this in a future post.  The issue of sexual purity is as pressing today as it was in the first-century Greco-Roman world in which the epistles in the New Testament were written.

Many people have never heard what God desires for them in the area of purity or their understanding of how to go about it is littered with misconceptions. I came to a place where I assumed that the people I knew were struggling with this area of life until I knew otherwise.

5) Give them an opportunity to see the gospel shared with another person.

I want people to experience the joy of being used by God in his plan of bringing the world to himself. I want to help people get over the misconceptions and fears they have of sharing their faith with others.

Several years ago, I was meeting with a freshman named Jared. After we had sat down a handful of times, we began talking about God’s desire to use Jared to reach others with the gospel. I could see that Jared wanted to share his faith. One afternoon Jared and I shot some pool in his lobby and walked up to his room.  When we got up to his room, his roommate was unpacking his bag from the day. I knew from Jared that his roommate most likely wasn’t yet a believer. I took the opportunity to ask his roommate a few questions and share the gospel with him. Jared jumped in the conversation a few times. That may have been the first time he was able to share his faith, but it wasn’t the last.

I would have given anything as a high school student or a young college student for someone to model for me what it looked like to share the gospel. I wanted others to know Christ, and I had a desire to be used by God. But I wasn’t certain what to do in a conversation. My conversations ranged from heated arguments to monotonous soliloquies.

photo courtesy of kylesteed


Part 1 of a 2 part guest post by Tim Norman. Read the excellent follow up post here

Last fall Tim Norman (our new regional director) came to visit our team and he shared some insightful thoughts on meeting with students (and being VERY intentional about what we do and do NOT talk about). I’ve asked him to share those thoughts over a couple posts (in the first-ever Guest Post for this blog!).

Tim just started blogging and I encourage you to subscribe to his feed. Tim’s a critical thinker – you will benefit from his wisdom and insight.
The Apostle Paul motivates many of us who attempt to influence others to follow Jesus. Some things he had to say are pretty challenging. He said, “To live is Christ; to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). To be honest, many days it would be a stretch for me to say that for me to live is Christ. I have wondered if some things that Paul says are somewhat off limits for me to say.

One of the other things Paul said that I thought was out of bounds for me is “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).
One night, after a discussion at Applebee’s on which translation of the Bible was the best (did we know how to have a good time or what?), I went home and thought, “Everything that was being said around the table at Applebee’s was something that those guys heard from the guys that are discipling them.” I had heard the entire discussion before; the difference was it had come out of someone else’s mouth.

After going to my apartment, I had what I now refer to as the post-Applebee’s epiphany.

As someone who is trying to influence others for Christ and take up the task of making disciples, people will imitate me.

I accepted that I cannot alter the fact that people will imitate me. As a leader, I will influence others. Those that I begin to disciple, they will imitate me.

I made a choice to be intentional with what I will talk about others with. There are certain things that I want to pass along to them. Initially, there are few convictions and motivations that I hope to pass along. I’ll post an entry later this week on a few of the key things that I seek to pass along to students that I disciple.

I also embrace that I have limited time with someone. For the vast majority of students I will have only sat down in a one-on-one setting fewer than 10 times. Some, I will only get together with a few times.
What will I talk about during those times? What do I want them to imitate?

I do not care about which translation of the Bible the guys I disciple use. For the most part, I do not even talk about it.  Some of my theological positions or proclivities don’t fall into those few times.

What I did talk about initially was the gospel and the greatness of Jesus. I’ll share more about that later. Even accepting that I’ll likely need to talk about it more than once makes me keep my list short. After all, in most cases we are hoping for total worldview overhaul. And that may take a pass or two at a topic.

So, even if I had 40 times with a student over 2 years, I would still have to bring focus. I asked myself, what experience and training can I give them that they likely won’t receive somewhere else?

I encourage you as a leader to take stock of what you want others to imitate from their encounters with you. As a leader, you will influence their lives. That’s what leaders do. What will characterize that influence? Do they come away knowing that you are someone who can chat it up about the ESPN highlights? Do they know you have theological superheroes, past or present, that make your heart quiver? Do they begin to see that you are captivated by the magnitude of Jesus and his call on your life?


What are the top 5 things that you want to make sure you pass along?

photo courtesy of colindunn