This is part of a series on Learning from the Top Sending Campuses in Cru.
See the intro for a full list of all the campuses profiled (and links to each).
As I walked onto the Texas Tech campus as a freshman in 1994, Chris Newport was starting his second year as director of Cru at Tech. I and many others are the fruit of 20 years of sending from Texas Tech, under Chris’s leadership. For years, Texas Tech Cru sent out 10 people a year into full time ministry from a movement of 150-200 college students.
Chris Newport is now in his second year of leading Cru at the University of Texas. Despite being a prestigious school whose graduates have a plethora of options, the University of Texas consistently sends a lot of graduates into full time ministry (annually sending 10-15 students into full time ministry with Cru). Students are turning down six figure job offers to work for Cru (for a LITTLE less than six figures). I recently asked Chris for a few of his thoughts on sending.
- When students do ministry – not just leading a meeting but leading small groups and sharing their faith, that’s the key
- Then it’s not theoretical- “I’ve seen God use me”
- Getting to experience the joy of being used by God, they think – “I want to do that full time”
- Over the years I’ve seen some larger movements that did not send well:
- On one campus, the ministry was very structured. But students just ran committees. Staff did all the ministry (evangelism and discipleship). I had a new staff join my team who had been a student on that campus. He was one of their top student leaders. But in college he had just run the weekly meeting. Sure, he had led a small group as well. But he wasn’t doing much intense personal ministry. His comment – “Your students at Tech are better equipped to do ministry than I am coming in as staff.”
- Are your students good at running meetings and putting on retreats?
- In my early years on staff there was a Cru ministry with a huge weekly meeting at a big state school. 500-700 people at the weekly meeting. Something like 3 people joined staff over 2-3 years. Students were coming to just consume. I’m sure all their staff had full schedules – they had lots of people to meet with and organize and follow up with.
- Generally, students who will labor for a lifetime have to be taking steps of faith and sharing their faith and making significant investments into the lives of others (not just leading a small little Bible study)
- I don’t think sending is a program – not a special weekly meeting the third week in October to challenge students to join staff.
- It’s about a culture – if your staff team is healthy, students see that you enjoy what you are doing and enjoy being together.
- Most students join staff because of a relationship with a staff person – they’ve been really deeply, personally invested in.
- It’s honestly not the mission, not the job, not because they enjoy evangelism.
- I think people do care about the mission, but I think they care about it because of their close connection with staff. And of course there are exceptions.
- Usually when they’re joining us, it’s been because they’ve been deeply impacted by someone on staff.
- In the past our team spent a lot of their time just coaching student Bible study leaders – meeting with them every other week. But they weren’t personally connected.
- Now we’re having our staff focus more on sophomores and rising juniors with the idea that if you build the relationship early, they will be more connected with two years of relationship as they get really busy their junior/senior year.
- We offer something to students that no one else is offering – deep, close, relational discipleship; coming alongside students to help them live on mission – something they likely won’t ever get again.