Tuesday, January 31, 2006

An IM Conversation on Mission

IM conversations can be strange, and reading ones you were not involved in can be stranger. But, just for kicks I thought I would post this one.

I was sitting by the computer working on a who knows what, when one of the Campus Ministry regional leaders popped in and said hello. We ended up talking shop and what follows are our harried stream of consciousness - from the middle of an IM conversation.

You can follow along at home:

Me: So . . . why is it hard to fill these jobs?
Mysterious Regional Leader: our old guys love the field
and don't want to leave home b/c of kids still in high school
but what about the younguns
what is the word on the street - what is the take on the RD job?
more influence at the local level
not too many like the desk either
why is that? on influence
more contact with people
more of doing what you came on staff to do.
not sure, we have not talked details yet
I feel like we have a bunch of soft ministries in the country these days
we're doing gather, build, send rather than win...
so how do we solve it?
get back to our distinctives,
kill the idol of "big"
quit measuring number of students involved
Amen brother
and sending the wrong message to the field
Amen and amen
is this something that you can speak into nationally
we do
I'm not hearing it
I'm hearing movements everywhere
more, more, more
not that movements everywhere is bad
Some of us would love to drop the IMB [we measure involved new believers] number and total involved and replace it with student multipliers as the key measurement
we're on the same page
our whole team is
it is mvts everywhere, but they are supposed to be evangelistic with leaders (spiritual multipliers)
Like XXX said, if our mvts look like what I am seeing, I am not sure I want them everywhere
XXX and I have talked about this . . - He and I are pretty much on the same page.
Now what do we do about it?

we don't want to lose our big weekly meetings
we got ourselves into trouble by measuring number of staff and number at weekly meetings
and thus we don't want to offend
you are right
maybe you can write the new article, "you can't do small like you do big"
How about an experiment - Have a small RD team to move quick . . . . measure spiritual multipliers, decisions and gospel presentations - see what happens
you're a fun guy
can you see (other mysterious regional leaders) going for this
will national go for it
I know you will
I think you could push us toward it
Our system is built to get exactly what we are getting
you are right again
If we don't try something new we will continue to be frustrated with the results we are currently getting.
just did a focus group at UofX with new students
and . . . .
and they give you the answer that we're about fellowship
for the most part
that stinks, but it does not surprise
we're doing a good job at building and sending need some work on winning
and our new staff are joining out of this and they think that is what their job is

you got it baby
so, if you push them on evangelism, some will leave
and maybe they should
so when I tell them their job is to share Jesus between 500-1500 times in their first 18 months on staff, they look at me like WOW.
big is valued though we may have to close a few campuses
small is better rather than keeping a dead boat afloat
what if we do [lose them]?
We will soon regain them because we will be getting evangelistic entrepreneurial people to join us
maybe this conversation has empowered me to close 5 or 6 campi
don't blame me! Before I would close something though, I would like to change what we measure, and be TENACIOUS about measuring it. If we don't measure big, but we measure decisions, then that will go a long way in changing what we are asking LL [local team leaders] to do.
I think the changes of 92 were just on the surface
at least in our region

we're still close to being a dinosaur

I agree - I think I just realized this a few weeks ago myself
our winter conf made some changes, but the conf still felt the same
our problems now (evangelism mainly) are the same as they were in 92

We went on to talk more about evangelism and such, but I am tired of highlighting stuff in green, so you will have to take my word for it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Da Vinci Code

May 19 is the release of The Da Vinci Code, the much anticipated film version of the best-selling novel. Mark Gauthier, National Director for the US Campus Ministry, was interviewed last week about the film, the evangelical response and the plans of the Campus Crusade organization.

Here is the article.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Belief by Ethnic Background

According to a study by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, black college students have the highest level of belief in God at 95%, compared with 84% of Latinos, 78% of whites, and 65% of Asian American students. (Touchstone January - February 2006 p. 55)

and also of interest . . . .

No Growth in Evangelicals: According to Christianity Today, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as "born again" or "evangelical" remains the same as in 1991 - 42%. (Christianity Today January 2006 p. 20)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dartmouth Student Body President presents gospel in convocation speech to incoming frosh

Dave Moles (Mid-Atlantic Regional Leader with Campus Crusade) sent me this last fall. A worthy read from a student who is standing his ground.

I came across this speech given by this year's student body prez at Dartmouth. Apparently he's taking some heat for it but as one who's heard plenty of degenerate speeches given under the guise of "free speech" I'm glad that Noah Riner used his for good. It's a masterful speech and quotes Bono on the gospel which is sheer genius. I thought it would brighten your day if you hadn't already seen it. I'm not sure which ministry he's involved in but pray for Noah Riner.


Anonymous Guest Ranter on The Mission

A good friend send me this blurb on movements everywhere. May the innocent be protected:

I know we have talked lately about not saying multiple movements, but movements everywhere instead . . . . and I agree. But I think maybe we need to go one step further.

In my opinion, people are not motivated by movements everywhere, but I do think they care a great deal about reaching every student. As we continue to cast vision, I think we really need to weigh heavily on casting vision for giving every student an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. And not weigh as heavily on starting movements everywhere. Not to say that we shouldn’t talk about movements everywhere, but always in the context of reaching every student.

Thinking back to [large state funded institution of higher learning], it was the reality of seeing that we are not reaching every student, and we CANNOT reach every student with our current structure that led to change. We either needed to change our mission or change our way of going about our mission.

(Side note: This is also where our thinking eventually turned to cell groups… If God really answered our prayers to give every student on campus and opportunity to hear the gospel…. Even at the 25% (parable of the soils) that is a movement of 5000! There is no way we could house all those new believers in our current structure. It was too staff dependant, and there was no way we could train and disciple all the leaders to lead all those students. That is what lead to conversations about new structure, and ultimately our decision to do cell ministries. This is why I think it is impossible to talk about movements everywhere apart from Organic/cell/simple church ministry).

Anyways, my point is shifting back to really casting vision for giving every student an opportunity, and then talk about movements everywhere. But focus and weigh on the every student part. That is what makes the messiness of movements everywhere worth it. I think this is something to think about in how we communicate.

So that led to another thought - Mission Statement:

Back at [same large state funded institution of higher learning], we felt our mission was to reach the whole campus. We talked about it all the time. So the “stop saying we are trying to reach the whole campus or change what we are doing” was true. But in truth, that is not our mission in CCC. It is turning lost students into Christ centered laborers. In all reality, people ARE fulfilling our current mission statement. When they think of their mission, it is easy to feel good about it. Because our mission says nothing of scope. It talks about the lost, but not the every. If part of our mission is not every student, then we don’t really see our need for movements everywhere. We don’t need movements everywhere to fulfill our current mission statement [emphasis mine]. In fact, traditional Cru movements will work just fine. I think subconsciously this may have something to do with not seeing the need, feeling like what we are currently doing is accomplishing our mission (because verbiage wise we are accomplishing our stated mission - so no need to fix was ain't broke).
Aw . . . .the insights of youth.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Attack or Attract

There has been a post sitting in my drafts for the last few months titled "Attack or Attract." The basic premis being that we have made a subtle shift over time and bought into an 'attractional' model of ministry. Instead of attacking (not a great word) the darkest places of the campus, we rely on the greatest show on campus to surface interested students (combine this with surveys and some other tools and we can easily make oursleves known). And - it works! We can grow (develop, build, whatever) a movement - and many good things have happened as a result.

Now . . . I have been known to split, but I don't want to split on this. Big is not 'evil' (I would rather be big that little), but it does change what we may spend our time doing. Managing big can be daunting. And keeping big BIG can be overwhelming.

But more than that, it can keep many students from fully engaging the in primary activity of the mission. As students engage approaching their campus with radical faith to bring the dark places into the light, God does something to wonderfully develop who they are. Great leaders are brought to the surface and campus settings are changed. However, if the primary function of students is running the show, then they may miss out on this amazing opportunity.

Two chuncks of anecdote:

A few months ago a Regional Leaders asked a large group of stinters how many of them had ever lead or been a part of a first follow up appointment with a new believer. The number was less than 10%.

Even more anequdotal - a significant ministry leader in the organization has a son attending a major state school in the south. He asked his son (not trying to pry too much) how evangelism was going on campus and what they dreamed of accomplishing. After a few false starts his son simply answered,"I don't know Dad . . . I am part of the main meeting team."

Again, totally anequdotal, but I do not think that out of the ordinary.

As we have shifted toward attracting those who are interested we have subtly moved in how we go about the mission. Our harvesting efforts are guaged toward those who are predisposed and run into us. We do not specifically target the famous and infamous and therefore have little or no ability to surface true people of peace who have influence over their "oikos." By attracting a lot of believers or spiritually interested students we can end up entertaining a large number without influencing a significant portion of the student body. As I write that, it uncomfortably sounds like the same issue that plagues the local church. Large in number, small in influence.

Of course this is not everyone, everywhere. There are incredible things happening even as subtle shifts take place. And there is nothing really wrong with going about it this way - I am just not sure it is who we desire to be.

It seems that we have allowed the foundation to slip from making disciples (and with that I am implying evangelism) to weekly celebrations / meetings / worship. Neither side of the spectrum is wrong, but one can build into the other better than the other way around. If we focus on weekly meetings . . . that is what we get. If we focus on building disciples then we disciples can organize meetings as they see fit - but all in the context of making more disciples.

I may be reaching, but it would be fairly simple to test this foundation. If you ask a random student (who has been involved for more that 6 weeks) what Cru (or this movement) is all about, what is the answer you get? The answers will reveal our foundation.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Wild at Heart Weekend

A little off topic, but last week I spent a wonderful couple of days at Crooked Creek Ranch with John Eldridge and crew as part of a Wild at Heart Boot Camp ("a four-day quest into the recovery of your masculine soul"). I was invited by an old friend whose life has been dramatically changed through this ministry. It was a fantastic time.

To be honest, I am not well versed in John 's books and teaching, but I found it to be a fascinating experience. I filled about 10 pages of my journal - it was great to be in a conference setting and simply focus on what the Lord wanted me to hear.

Here are a couple of takeaways for me from that weekend.

  • Investigating how I have (or have not) been validated as a man . What lies do I believe about myself? How am I speaking into my son to move him ahead in his journey?
  • The reality and intensity of the spiritual battle (that I tend to so easily ignore or pass over as the mild frustrations of life).
  • There are more, but I am not about to put them on some stupid blog.
All weekend I could not help thinking about missional aspect of this time. If men (tons of them) were unleashed to live the desires that God has laid upon their hearts, the world would be dramatically changed. It seems that we are a masculine force dreaming of being dangerous but simply acting in the status quo. Our Christianity lists towards being good, safe and trivial rather than dangerously combative on all the right issues. Even when we do fight, it seems we are fighting about the wrong things (intramural theological debates) with all the wrong people (ourselves). And when we do take the battle to the world around us, we bring self righteous condemnation rather than gracious and sacrificial solutions (like . . . . .what if we could say no baby should be aborted because every baby born is guaranteed a worthy home - not by the govt, but by the body).

The world awaits rescued men to rescue man, and yet we are somehow content w
ith plodding along waiting for the world to stop bothering us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

KCCC - Get er Done

I first heard of KCCC about 4 years ago . . . and since then I have become very familiar with what they are doing. I spent part of this past week at Big Bear Lake in CA as part of their National Staff(s) confernce. What a great group of young leaders. Bold in their faith, tenacious in their prayers and undaunted by the difficulties of ministry in any context.

KCCC stands for Korea Campus Crusade for Chirst, and a number of years ago they set foot in the US to begin ministry with a Korean flare. Their main target has traditionally been first and second generation Korean students on campuses in Southern California and New York. They are very effective at what they do and there is much we could learn from them. Currently I believe they are on about 40 campuses with around 50 staff in California, New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Toronto.

Here are a few highlights of how I see the Lord using them.

  • Tenacious in Prayer - many of their meetings seem very similar to the average white guy meeting until they pray. I spoke at a conference once and after I spoke, we prayed through my talk for a greater amount of time than I actually spent giving the talk. They pray loud, with passion and with great expectancy.
  • Committed to evangelism - These guys are old school and simply share their faith. In Toronto 2-3 staff members (and the movement they lead) saw 200 decisions last semester.
  • Selective in Discipleship - they have many systems and constructs in place to insure the maturing of disciples (or at least that their disciples would know and understand the work of the ministry). As a result, the are not huge in many locations, but they are radical. Their California vision conference draws about 1200 students, which is pretty much every student that is involved on campus. They will also see half of these students go on an intnernational missions trip this summer.
The lesson for me is pretty simple. Good leadership, freed up, in any context, will surface and maintain the desired vision. KCCC has shown us that our systems, structures, plans and policies are not necessary to succeed. They may be necessary for us, but they are not necessary for everyone. Good leaders will put things in place that will help them get to their slice of the vision. We (the white guys) could never (in a million years) create what KCCC did right under our nose (with many in the greater organization getting bent out of shape).

What lesson can we learn from KCCC that will help us move ahead in other ethnic contexts?

Reality check: Of course they have their problems and short comings (and so do we). Their leaders are working hard to figure these things out. But it is hard to argue with their success.

You can send a "keep up the good work" email to Dong Whan Kim (CA) or Nam Ju Chun (NY). These gentlemen (and their wives) are living the grand adventure of being missionaries in our own backyard.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Serious Global Shift

Global Christianity has shifted! I have highlighted this before, but the numbers are impressive and overwhelming. God is up to something (he usually is).

A report released this month by the Lausanne Researchers' Network
highlights the profound geographical shift of global Christianity over the
past hundred years. According to the study, over 80 percent of all
Christians in 1900 were from Europe and North America, yet by 2005 it was
under 45 percent. Today, Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans are more
typical representatives of evangelicalism than Americans or Europeans.
People of African descent represent 30.8 percent of all Evangelicals, while
Asian and Latin American make up 15 percent and 13.2, respectively.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Out-of-control Order: Simple Structures for a Decentralized Multiplication Movement

John Waidley (Regional Leadership in the Pacific Southwest for Campus Crusade for Christ) sent me this article by Neil Cole from CMAResources.org. John's sent this link to leaders in the Pacific Southwest Region and I think his introduction does a good job setting up our situation.

This afternoon I was again contemplating the potential stress many of you feel with all the added movements we will need to coach/lead on our way to the scope. If I was a local leader again I might feel overwhelmed by what was being asked of me. Now I feel overwhelmed again with this ICM role…but I do believe the Lord wants to take us places we have never been in terms of the scope…the struggle is more about being willing to go with Him at the expense of leaving other things. One of those things that would have been an issue for me as a local leader is “control”.

Anyway…one thing that matters is how do we organize/structure our ministry in a way that allows us to get to the scope and at the same time keeps us from going crazy or burning out? Obviously, for each location you need to hear from the Lord and do what He is calling you to do. I have included a link to a really provocative article that could aid how we think in terms of structures. It is from Neil Cole as he talks about “organic church” structures and while we are not a church the things he is saying totally relate to the issues we struggle with. I would like to experiment with his structure ideas (in the right locations) as they relate to our non white scope. You may want to print this out and maybe even discuss it as a team…or you might want to save it for a rainy day when a good read is just what you need.
Read the article here.

Houston . . . we did not see the problem

Barna shoots one across the bow. Subject Line: Pastors Claim Congregants Are Deeply Committed to God But Congregants Deny It

The synopsis states:

Do you ever wonder why you hear from most religious leaders that America is spiritually healthy, but you see scant evidence of it in your daily wanderings? In this week’s Barna Update we address the gap between perception and reality regarding the health of the Christian body in America by comparing pastors’ views of the spiritual commitment of their congregants and the self-evaluation of churched adults regarding their devotion to God. The distance between these two perspectives is breathtaking. The adages “you get what you measure” and “you see what you want to see” go a long way toward explaining the spiritual condition of the nation – and the generally upbeat view of pastors regarding the spiritual condition of their congregants.
You can read the article here.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


I currently read about 12-15 blogs. Not as regularly as I would like, but often enough to stay caught up. Why? I think I am in the stage of ministry where learning new wine skins outweighs aggressively repeating what I already know. Some of what I know is pretty awesome and works pretty well, but much of where we need to go we have never been before. The big challenges for the US Campus Ministry has little to do with how to reach white middle class freshmen living in the dorms. It has everything to do with the 1 million radically diverse students living in NY (and similar numbers in LA, San Fran and other cities around the country). And this does not even begin to address the complexities of student life in Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City and other places where the the 100 million students of the world live.

So, I am in a desperate search for those who are seeing God work in new and innovative ways. Not because what I know is bad, but because there are things I don't know that could help us expand our influence for the Kingdom. God is sooooo much bigger than what can see within the USCM - or even within the traditional church and the evangelical world. We must be open to watching closely how God is moving all over the world. And then celebrate, borrow & steal for the best possible results in our areas of responsibility.

My leadership could always use a good dose of humility in ministry skills and practices. There are those who have gone before us (and those whom God is using mightily now) who can inform the discussion. Think how crazy Paul & Barnabas seemed when they headed for the wilds of Asia, or Bill Bright when he showed up at UCLA or when Chuck Smith began to reach out to "hippies" through Calvary Chapel in the 70's. Much of what is good and new is not accepted by what is tried and true.

Many of the blogs I read are linked to the side, however I have added a few (while being to lazy to add them to my "worthy bloggage" yet). Here are some others.

House Church Blog
Nextwave News
Steve Addison's blog - World Changers
House Church Chronicles
Leadership Blog: Out of Ur
Jaeson Ma

I am not promising that you (or I) will agree with all that is here, but it will make you think and (it seems to me) that thinking always makes me lead better. I've done it seldom enough that I can recognize the difference.

Go Students Go

I spent part of last week the first full day of new staff training for Campus Crusade for Christ in beautiful Daytona Florida (don’t fret – it was cold). What a great group of young leaders.

I had the opportunity to speak with them on God’s passion for all people and what we mean by ‘movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone who knows Jesus.” It was a fun time.

As I shared the vision of going for every kind of student in every category, you could see the excitement in the faces of these men and women. I think they are up for the task of creating a new reality for Campus Crusade that is very pleasing to the Lord – one that involves thousands of movements involving students of every type.

After I spoke, a number of these new staff members came to me and talked about our future direction. One student from Cal Poly Pamona shared how he had been involved in starting various new movements at that campus (good job Jim and Alisha in unleashing students to lead). I experienced something similar last week in San Diego where a young Latino student told me about launching movements in 3 different ethnic categories on campus.

The thing that continually jumps out at me is that students can do this. They really can. Of course not all students, but as we put the challenge before the right students, it is amazing how they respond . . . .and develop as leaders in the process. My fear is that the messiness can scare us from believing that they can do it.

So how do we determine who are the right students? I guess we should challenge them all and see what happens. Surely the right ones will rise the occasion.

On another note (ok a similar one), the birth, growth, multiplication and even death of movements should be much more common place in our understanding of how the kingdom expands. Corporations are started and then simply last forever (or fail) – however this is not the model for the kingdom. The kingdom model is an organism and organisms live, multiply and die. For an organism to begin and then not birth another is simply not natural. We would call that organism sterile. At the same time, that organism may birth a few new like organisms and then die . . . .and that would be considered natural.

Our “movements” function in a way much more kin to an corporation / organization. The seldom give birth and they never die. I am sure I have more to say about that, but I think there is a football game on . . . .and this line of thinking is becoming a bit too convicting.

(Also, one thing I told each of these new staff is that they should consider it part of their job to launch and develop new evangelistic movements - (I should say birth and grow) - so if you have a new staff member showing up near you any time soon, give ‘em the reigns and let them run!)