Are We Really Doing Evangelism the First Few Weeks?

A great conversation happened on Twitter regarding evangelism and the first few weeks of school. Here’s a sample of the conversation:

“But I find that most first 6 week stuff is centered on getting contacts, which tend to be Christians or think-they-ares”–via @djjenkins
“Maybe we need to think in terms of “Turning lost & found students into christ centered laborers.” ?–via @bobfuhs
“Gathering” Latinos just isn’t working. You have to “win” them. Maybe that’s why Destino isn’t working. via @destinoeric
“wow, just had this conversation with my wife today. In audiences where we MUST win and not just gather we fail (esm)”–via @destinoeric
“My 2 cents: non-X-ians will come to Christ relationally throughout the year via those we gather in 1st 6 wks”–via @timcasteel
“I’m beginning to wonder if gathering christians and then aligning them to evangelism really works. We align them to gathering”–via @pablonunez
  • Matt

    Oh man…there is so much wrapped in this conversation I’m not even sure where to begin. I also watched it unfold as I follow all these guys on twitter.

    The key strategy that I find myself doing to live in the tension of reaching the lost and aligning Christians (sometimes gathering Christians) is to do ministry with those that will go with you. It cannot be an either or…at least I don’t think it can. Love Bob’s comment on this…turning lost and found students into Christ centered laborers.

    I live and breathe modeling the ministry to students who are willing to be taught. Take a student sharing is a rally cry for us for the first couple of weeks on a campus.

    My other thought (maybe this is heretical in CCC) is that building a spiritual movement that includes winning students to Christ as part of the DNA takes years. Time is our friend. Thoughts?

    • Anonymous

      Matt, I think you’re right – building movements of multiplication takes time. I think you still set the pace in the first 6 weeks of every year, though. I remember the temptation, when following up a contact card – if the person checked Christian then it was tempting not to initiate a gospel conversation but to just make assumptions. Often they would be Christians I’m gathering, but often they weren’t and really wanted to know the gospel. In any case, when I shared the gospel with them, they saw what we were about and were able to buy in or not.

      For a lot of the students, just initiating with another Christian student about being in a Bible study was a huge faith step. I would often take someone I just did a survey follow up with and have them help me find someone else in the hall to do the same thing with them. Again, sometimes it was fruitful, sometimes not, but we were getting after it and setting the pace.

      But finding some key guys in that first couple of weeks can take you a long way down the road into reaching others later in the year.

      • Mike Berk

        Oops – that last comment was from me. I missed the part about filling out my info.

    • destinoeric


      Yeah, we’ve got a pretty instant-results culture here in America.

      I heard a great quote from Ken Cochrum one time, “We overestimate what can happen in one year and underestimate what can happen in 5.” We need to take the long view. That’s the only time spiritual multiplication makes sense.

      • Matt

        Yeah, that quote has gone around…and I think it’s appropriate and still applicable in most ways…although I think it was Jim Sylvester who said it.

        We just wrestled through the classic CCC article “The wisdom of building movements” today in our staff meeting. I put it on google doc’s if you want to have a look.

        I’d be interested to get everyone’s response to it now, since I think it was written in the 90’s.

        We’re really wrestling through how these principles apply to us in a very post-christian city like Portland…where there aren’t as many Christians to gather and involve in the mission.

        Interestingly it has a quote in there about turning lost (and self-centered) students into Christ centered laborers.

        • destinoeric


          We’ve done a lot of things outlined in that document in the context of Destino. We’ve pushed evangelism very hard and have seen growth. We stagnated a bit this year but that is in large part to staff having to pull off campus last spring and losing some momentum.

          I think that the great thing about principles is that they should apply in a variety of contexts.

          What specifically from the document were y’all wrestling through? What do you feel like doesn’t fit in PDX?

        • Tim Casteel

          We read that article or a derivative of that article every year as a staff team. I definitely buy in. Not only does Movement Building make sense (it works) but it keeps staff sane. The clarity of focus (freshmen) and defining “success” for your year really help. Especially when you’re just starting up. That article doesn’t mention it Matt, but another I’ve read from Jim Sylvester talks about how it’s just as hard, and takes just as much time, to go from 2 to 4 leaders as it takes to go from 40 to 80. But, again, that clarity is really helpful – success for us starting up a ministry is to find 2 key leaders. Next year, our goal is to end with 4 leaders. If we get more, great!

          This summer I skimmed Jim’s full (146 page) “Principles God Honors” Article/e-book (it’s available on CruPress) and I thought it was really interesting that he gives a 12 year plan for reaching a campus. 12 years! It’s definitely written to “staffed campus” but still applicable I think.

          Bob Fuhs also put up GREAT post/article on CruPress last week:
          Want To Reach Every Student? Then Stop Trying To Reach Every Student.
          Here’s the article: “Taking a movement from 20 to 200”:

          Matt, so glad you’re in a difficult post-Christian city like Portland trying to figure this out! So worth it.
          And Eric, I think Destino is HUGE for the future of Crusade – I’m cheering for you! We’ve got to figure out how to reach Hispanics if we are at all going to be relevant in 2020.

        • Ivan Jon Ferriol

          it is depend but if the university is just starting it is more of getting together with christian friends and finding new contacts… If the university is already a movement surely the first weeks of school year they are preparing for the big evangelism.

          • Brian Barela

            good thoughts ivan! thanks!

  • Drew

    I really liked Bob’s comment as well. In the last year, I’ve started to wonder if we should consider expanding the definition of what a lost student is: 1) students who don’t know Jesus and 2) students who are saved, but living carnally. ie: lost and found.

    It seems like the Satisfied booklet should be brought along when a pair goes sharing on-campus and shared with more frequency than it is. During my initial MPD time, I’ve had more opportunities to share the Satisfied booklet with believers than I have the KGP with non-believers. Granted, my experience is n=1 in the grand scheme, but maybe the experience on-campus is similar.

    Considering I was one of those carnal, do-the-Christian-life-in-my-own-power types, I’ll bet there’s a ton more like me who need to hear what got shared with me. Gathering those Christians seems to be the logical next step to “Christ-centered laborer.”

  • Mike Berk

    And Destino Eric, don’t lose heart. I think it’s early yet to say Destino isn’t working.

    • Brian Barela

      from heading up the start of destino at ucla a few years back i saw this:

      –we actually gathered a large number of leaders (around 15) when we started; many of the first participants were active and leading in other clubs/orgs, belonged to fraternities/sororities, and wanted to see something happen.

      –we had the same problems btw gathering/mobilizing christians and reaching out to non-xians as in a traditional ccc movement. although receptivity to the traditional means of sharing the gospel (knowing god personally) was much higher–@destinoeric has talked about this before as well.

      the biggest challenge i see with destino is keeping/developing leaders INSIDE of the ccc tent–STINT, part-time and full-time interns, staff.

      it’s not just the finances, it’s the entire culture that makes it difficult to stay in long enough to plant and grow other movements.

      a good question to ask would be: if we took out trying to get latinos to join staff (in whatever capacity) what would/could Destino look like AND still maintain the mission, vision, and values of CCC?

      i appreciate your encouragement mike but after being apart of Destino in some form of fashion since the late 90’s i’d say we (CCC) have given the current model plenty of time to work. i believe it’s in need of a desperate change.

      • Mike Berk

        Brian, thanks so much for the pioneering work you were involved in at UCLA. I think we are still seeing ripples of impact from your time investing in that ministry. I agree that we need a different approach to make Destino more successful and a lot of it is indeed financial realities related to MPD etc but you would know better than I about the other cultural realities keeping people from engaging long term.

        I’ve thought about this with regard to ethnic movements – that some, like Epic for example, lend itself to a more traditional CCC approach – there are already dozens of other ministries to Asian Americans on campuses all over the country and so it’s a lot easier to start something by gathering and aligning some key believers – they are already looking for a place to plug in.

        In other cultures – that’s much more challenging. I remember a staff guy at USC wanted to start a movement to reach the Jewish students on campus – he’s got to take a much different approach since there aren’t a lot of Jewish Christians to build a movement on. The same thing with the Muslim ministry they tried to build at Davis a few years back.

        So I think Destino Eric was hitting on it when he talked about needing to win rather than gather – it’s a different approach and maybe we need to change our paradigm on what success might look like.

        I like your question, Brian about what Destino might look like with a different approach to staffing. How do you picture that? Like partnering with church planters perhaps?

        • Brian Barela

          thanks mike.

          yes a couple huge opportunities for destino:

          –pastoral training track; preparing them to lead in some form or fashion in a church

          –missional business-person track; empowering them in the goals they ALREADY have-the 5 Things is good but it might be good to add content specifically for leaders–so not just being a christian in the marketplace but taking those whom you work with somewhere that is connected to the Great Commission.

          another good question–how can we help latino students to connect and lead in the networks they are already apart of or want to break into?

          i wish i would have thought of this at ucla–it would have been HUGE to help the students take on more leadership roles and responsibilities in LASA, MECHA, their frat/sorority, etc.

          a couple potential results of doing this–involved and engaged alumni, who might actually want to support staff or be involved as a leader in some form or fashion.

      • destinoeric

        Wow, Brian. I was nearly in tears after reading your comments.

        “it’s not just the finances, it’s the entire culture that makes it difficult to stay in long enough to plant and grow other movements.”

        I’ve never heard it expressed so well. Destino doesn’t fit within Campus Crusade culturally. I could list tons of examples, but one is that few Destino staff will send their students on Cru summer projects anymore. We’ve just had too many bad experiences cross-culturally that its not worth it.

        Destino is bleeding staff just as fast as it can get new people to join (we’ve had a large percentage of our full-time Hispanic staff have to drop off because of MPD). It’s really hard to even get Hispanics through the crusade cultural system (both students I knew that applied to intern last year were rejected) to join staff. Then when a few actually make it they can’t raise support to stay (I just lost my intern b/c of MPD)


        I appreciate your encouragement. Thank you.

        Destino has been going for 15 years (watch this history video on YouTube: ) and we have less than 300 students nationally to show for it. I agree with Brian, its in need of a desperate change.

        I would love to partner with some church planters to see change happen, the problem is, I rarely hear of any who are focused on the Latino community. Most of the time churches have the same cultural challenges we face in CCC. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that NO ONE (including us) is doing this well.

        • Brian Virtue

          Yours is a perspective that needs to be heard.

          Change isn’t happening fast enough and I do question the sense of urgency by and large. There’s urgency to try to figure out quick fix answers like asking new staff at staff training to help launch a destino team and there’s urgency to try things like trying to mandate allocating a certain # of people to destino ministry every year. But I have yet to see a sense of desperation that really leads to a complete and honest examination of why Destino has struggled so much and why Epic took forever to get off the ground and why it too in some ways continues to struggle with the mainstream CCC culture. Many Epic staff feel the same way, they just would never voice it :)

          I was in a conversation about destino a couple weeks ago and it was in the context of if many staff “switched” to destino and suddenly there were 5-6 more Destino teams. My gut tells me that they would have a 2 year half-life at best because organizationally we’re still struggling to learn how to support such efforts and really provide the coaching, equipping, and cross-cultural wisdom to help efforts like this really get off the ground. So essentially I see us investing tons of energy trying to get some new teams with not much energy focused on what would truly make them fruitful in this context. That’s been the history of how we tackle things like this. Epic has some critical mass, but we’re still struggling significantly in creating space so that it can be an “Asian-American” movement and not just a CCC ministry to Asian-Americans.

          …and there’s still a fair amount of staff out there who resist contextualization for whatever reason. I actually believe we don’t talk about contextualization enough (though some might disagree).

          That being said, I’m slightly encouraged about where things are (in comparison to past I guess), but I don’t know if that’s enough to outweigh the discouragement I resonate with that you shared. It seems long past the point to be encouraged just because the organization is “talking” about Destino a lot.

        • Brian Barela

          thanks eric. often times when the cultural challenges are shared it ends up being heard by the other party as “white staff don’t like latinos”–which is so crazy to me bc cross cultural anything is hard for the person/group crossing into the minority.

          our financial model for sustaining our staff is built on a middle-class (and creeping into upper-middle class) economy and our ministry model is protestant. many latinos (including my dad and his family) are lower-middle to lower class from a catholic background.

          isn’t that enough to show why destino currently doesn’t scale?

          i think ccc has a role to play in reaching and mobilizing latinos on campus in spite of all this–our core is missional leadership development–and that applies to any ethnicity.

          church partnerships are exciting to think about but very hard to implement.

          ucla was a nightmare bc many latino churches were more than 20 miles away–which makes travel time up to and over an hour. and most latino students involved in destino while i was there would not have wanted to go to a local latino church–they would drive back to their home church even if it was 60 miles away.

          i think it’s important to think of the problem in relation to two models–the financial and the ministry. sure they are integrated in some ways but both have unique problems that cannot be addressed by lumping them together.

          • E. Tabitha Morales

            As a Hispanic-American on staff with CCC, I would like to point out that reaching Hispanic & Latino students is not a lost cause.

            I’ve read through these posts and am sad to hear a nearing sense of defeat, although glad to see it’s not being ignored. It’s good to acknowledge the need for change as we recognize the lack of growth. As American culture changes & generations of students change, we should also (staying within the biblical principles of course).
            I am a second-generation Puerto Rican with deep roots & family still living in PR. I was born and raised in what’s famously known as J.Lo’s town, The Bronx. Most people in my community were Spanish-speaking or of African-American decent, however we were all American as well & ultimately that’s how my friends and I saw ourselves.

            I went to college in New Jersey (first with a BA in my immediate family & 5th out of my 40 cousins, most of whom are older). There I met a white staff person who encouraged me to lead a Cru movement on campus after knowing me for a short few months.

            There are many details to this story, but the general point is that I ultimately joined staff when I trusted someone who didn’t look like me or grow up like me, but really cared and shared her life with me. After being invited into the home of several other staff (all white), I learned that they weren’t the only ones who needed to learn about me…I had no clue how a white-American family lived.

            My racial views dropped and I no longer cared that I was different because I noticed that they were too & they still cared about me and primarily my relationship with God. So from then, I bonded with them through our commonality – Christ.

            I can’t imagine CCC staff NOT being “able” to reach out to students of a different ethnicity or culture when they sincerely care for the persons they are addressing. Whether we do this through Destino or some other ESM, IS NOT AS IMPORTANT as doing so. “Every Student on Every Campus” is the point. If every staff took this to heart and shared their life and the life of Christ with every student they encountered, no matter what their ethnicity, I believe God will do AMAZING things & ministries like Destino would no longer suffer.

            Sure there is a learning curve in how to address people of different cultures, but it’s not like “we” (minorities) oppose others asking us questions to get to know us. Dare I ask, what is the heart behind this issue?

            • destinoeric


              Thanks for sharing.

              I agree with you, reaching Latinos and Hispanics in the US is not a lost cause. You won’t find a bigger champion for the cause of reaching Latinos than me. I wholeheartedly believe they represent the big wave of the future for the church in America.

              It is because of my strong beliefs about this that I am posting comments about the state of Destino.

              I went to your website (great job!) and read a little of your background. I think you understand fully what I mean when I say we’re not doing a good job of reaching minorities. You are one of the first minority women on staff in your region. How long has CCC been around? And you’re one of the only ones?

              I’m so thankful that God has brought you to your staff team. I think you can be an agent of change in our organization. But I do think we need change. I disagree with you, I think most staff with CCC can NOT cross cultures well. How do I know this? We don’t do it. Period. I don’t think its intentional, I don’t even think we realize we need to do it more. But it doesn’t change the fact that we need to do more serious reflection on what keeps us from succeeding in reaching people of other cultures here in the US.

              I agree with Brian, I think the problems are both financial and ministry related. But I think it goes even deeper to our theology. Until we can reflect theologically about culture and how it affects our ministry, I think we will continue to do poorly in reaching people from other cultures.

              Even though this is a “downer” post, I write with the hope that you will continue to share your story with staff everywhere you go. You are rare, but I think you can pave the way for others. Its exciting to see where God has brought you and I look forward to hearing more how he uses you to shape CCC.

              Thanks for reading.

              • Brian Virtue

                I agree. I think God is using people to reach ethnic minority students and it’s so awesome to see. But it’s clear that many and maybe most aren’t really making intentional efforts to connect with various ethnic groups on campus. I don’t have time to engage further right now, but I wish more people were having honest conversations about this reality. The status quo requires urgency and a new humility and learning posture that hasn’t always been there. God is using individuals who are being faithful and loving well for sure. But we also need to make intentional efforts to grow and change so we can fruitfully communicate with and serve such a significant demographic on the campus today and in the future. I’m hopeful, but I absolutely question our ability right now without dramatic change to organizationally support and give lift to ESM and Destino in particular and agree with many of the above thoughts in that regard. There’s more attention being directed towards structural solutions when I’d like to see more effort directed towards some heart and vision issues.

              • E. Tabitha Morales

                Eric, I’m glad to hear you don’t think it’s a lost cause and that you are passionate about reaching Latinos & Hispanics for the kingdom. It saddens me to think that the majority of staff may think a person has to have a passion to reach a particular people and as they walk by them, like many other Christians do, they excuse themselves from sharing the gospel by telling themselves that is not their gift or calling.
                I’m not sure that I would use the word “can’t” for staff that don’t share their faith with someone of a different culture…. In my sad opinion, it’s more that they won’t try. The only reason why someone “can’t” do something is because they never tried. Otherwise the outcome would be a success or failed attempt. And in evangelism, by the power of the Holy Spirit, there are NO failed attempts. So tell me, who is leading these staff away from being “able” to have these spiritual conversations well? Jesus was one to never shy away from someone of a different ethnicity, even when it was dangerous. Why?! – Because He was lead by the Spirit and obeying His Father. Where do we fail?
                If it is not intentional, why doesn’t CCC or the Church as a whole encourage staff/believers in ways to share their faith with this growing population? All I see in CCC is the encouragement to join or partner with an ESM. Almost to say this is the best way & so the only one we will push. I have sat down with many staff over the years simply to discuss ethnic differences and how they could reach someone like me and help them feel included in Cru. Why not work it from that angle also? My concern is the lack of attempts for our staff to share their faith with someone of a different race or culture because of ignorance to that race of culture.
                I know I totally flipped the scene by bringing in race, because race doesn’t always affect culture. However, if we are discussing the heart of the issue, from what I’ve seen in my short 3 years on staff, race has a lot to do with our discomfort. I can’t share with everyone from across the nation on staff (unless given some venue to do so) but everyone on staff can humbly seek the Lord on how to fix this problem within their own lives & obey the Holy Spirit as He leads.

                • E. Tabitha Morales

                  * some of what I said echoes Brian’s comments on the heart and vision issues verses structural issues. It also points to that humbling posture he mentions. * Totally agree.

  • Sus

    Thank you for these insightful comments!

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