RE-Think Podcast Episode 1–Are We Really Doing Evangelism the First Weeks on Campus?

podcastThe first episode of the RE-Think Blogference podcast has launched! We are still getting the podcast listed on iTunes but right now you can listen online by clicking on the link below.

Dan Birch, CCC staff at Arizona State University and I discussed some of the thoughts and questions posed during a great twitter conversation. To get a sample of the conversation click here (you will need to scroll through this Twitter list but it’s worth it!).

What we noticed from the Twitter conversation is that staff are passionate about reaching out to non-believers during the first few weeks of school, but also have to manage the reality that many Christians are looking to find a community to join. These Christians often form the backbone of a local ministry’s leadership team and over time can be developed and trained to reach many of their peers for Christ.

So how do you manage the need to gather and retain Christians while still reaching out and engaging non-Christians?


Click here to listen to episode 1 in your browser!
  • DJ

    Thought I would add to the discussion via Holly Ashman, one of the Campus Field RD’s in the region, upon reading our Twitter discussion:

    “My initial thought is I disagree with that. Freshmen are most open in the fall to hear the gospel and have their lives changed. They are looking for a new identity, a new group of friends….it seems like a HUGE miss to not reach the lost in the first few months of school. HUGE!!!”

    Sounds like focusing primarily on gathering Christians in the Fall is not what she thinks we should be doing. Also sounds like she is not saying “winning” is sharing the gospel with people who think they are Christians, but is evangelism with the really lost (which is how I have always understood “Win”, but I am realizing many staff see “win” as gathering Christians).

    • DJ

      BTW, she wrote that on her Facebook wall

    • Brian Barela

      hey dj thanks for adding holly’s thoughts into the mix!

      “Freshmen are most open in the fall to hear the gospel and have their lives changed.”

      my experience at chico was that freshmen are most open to Gospel community, but mileage varies as to whether they are open to Gospel content.

      which brings me back to the need to be strategic and intentional w not only gathering christians but mobilizing student leaders to live out “missional gathering” a term i used in the podcast.

      the large super social events we did during the first few weeks drew both xians and non–during those events aligned students set up times to connect and follow up w non-xians, which led to gospel conversations.

      like mike said when it becomes either/or then the conversation gets tough to clarify. i think we are all on the same page with the importance of the fall for winning non-xians and xians. i’m hoping people come out of this with more focus on their particular tactics.

      • Tim Casteel

        Great quote Brian: “my experience at chico was that freshmen are most open to Gospel community, but mileage varies as to whether they are open to Gospel content.”

        Totally agree. Fall is THE time to start conversations with non-Christians. But we don’t see a whole lot of students trust Christ (on our campus) in the first few weeks. Our hope is, as Brian stated, is get them plugged into Gospel Community.

  • Mike Berk

    So Brian, is that Bob Dylan I’m hearing in the background? Are you recording this at Starbucks?

    • Brian Barela

      lol. you busted me mike. that’s my office these days!

      • Mike Berk

        I really like Dylan. I thought it was a nice touch.

  • Mike Berk

    DJ – I think this is kind of a chicken/egg dilemma here. In a way, you’ve created a bit of a straw man by making it either “gather Christians or share the gospel with lost people.” Of course we exist to see lost students come to faith, grow and become Christ centered laborers. So that has to involve engaging with lost people – lots and lots of them. The fact is that it’s really beneficial to find people to help you in that effort though and that would be Christian students.

    The idea of movement building is to create a movement of the size, health and maturity to reach the whole scope. Doing this takes time and it involves winning, building and sending (or is it building, sending and winning? or is it sending, winning and building?). At any rate, I don’t want to downplay the importance of building into the lives of believers or people who think they are believers. I remember a young guy by the name of DJ who came to our table and wanted to plug into a Bible study. That turned out okay.

    My point is that building a movement involves both elements. You have to be sharing your faith in the fall and you have to be gathering believers to join you. If you just gather believers like a Christian rush party but you fail to do evangelism, then you are short-circuiting the culture you are trying to build – a culture of multiplication ministry. If you fail to gather harvesters then you will significantly short-circuit the long term potential for impact on the wider scope.

    • DJ

      Yeah Mike, I know I am creating a bit of a straw man. But there are a few issues I am trying to work out in my head (and believe me, currently at UofA we are doing the classic “gather & share gospel with lost” stuff you talk about).

      1) WHAT IS “WIN”? – For years I have believed I was taught that “Win” meant sharing Jesus with the lost exclusively. So when we say the Fall is a “Win” cycle we meant our lead foot is Evangelism with the lost. THEN we gather Christians as we are leading with Evangelism.

      I am learning now many staff define “Win” as gathering Christians to our cause and EV with the lost in tandem. That is a fine definition, if we want it to be that. I just want to know if Win has always included gathering believing Christians. I think there is confusion on this issue, at least there is with me.

      This is the same with the term “reaching the freshmen.” Again, I always assumed or felt I was taught that “reaching the freshmen” means sharing the gospel with lost students, NOT gathering Christians to our cause. Again, fine however we define it, but I am confused and believe we need to have solid, defined terms if we are to be successful on staff.

      2) ARE WE DOING WAY MORE GATHERING THAN EV? – This is where the rubber hits the road for me, in what I am trying to work out in my head. So movement-building gathering philosophy says if you don’t “reach the freshmen” every fall you will fail to build a movement. “Reaching Freshmen” really comes down to “getting enough Christians aligned with us by fall retreat so we have something to build off of.” So, we need to do things to give freshmen an identity, do freshmen leadership teams, do spiritual surveys to surface them, and so on. We have done this, and now have a solid frosh class I think for this year.

      But here is the thing, we are spending 90% of our staff conversations now on, “How do we keep these Christian freshmen around and give them an identity and get them involved so we have something to build off of.” We are NOT talking about how to share the gospel with lost students on campus, all because of the movement building pressure.

      So, if the 1st 6 weeks are when people are most open to the gospel, but we spend most of our time gathering Christians to build a movement off of during this time, then we are missing the majority of lost students on our campus when they are the most open.

      And really, let’s be honest, the only students who come up to a CCC table to fill something out are Christians or think-they-are-Christians (like I was). You get a few spiritually interested people, but do we really believe a solid cross-section of lost students are filling out our surveys? I think we are naive if we think that. So we end up targeting mainly the “T-Z students” in the first 6 weeks, while the sinners on our campus are left to be reached in the Spring.

      • Holly Ashman

        Hey DJ and all,

        Surveys: they can be two fold. If we sit at tables, we will get believers. If we go out doing spiritual interest surveys, we’ll meet more lost students. So, what is our survey strategies? How long or often are we doing surveys? What are the questions? I think that might be a good place to evaluate so that we can do BOTH: get christians involved and get one on one time with non-believers.

        It is very complex to think about aligning freshmen believers to our mission as well as taking the time to meet with non-believers. I think we need to be ok with aligning being a process throughout all that we do at meetings, fall retreats, getting them to Winter Conference…. But one of the BEST ways to align freshmen is for them to see the staff and student leaders out there sharing their faith and caring for the lost from the beginning. We must model it even more then just teach it.

        • Paul Nunez

          “But one of the BEST ways to align freshmen is for them to see the staff and student leaders out there sharing their faith and caring for the lost from the beginning. We must model it even more then just teach it.”

          great point!

        • Paul Nunez

          And I also agree that you can get a lot of non christians to fill out the survey if you do say a root beer kegger or snow cones to get a survey. Some thing beyond the table. We had a lot of non christians fill out survey’s (at least judging by how they answered the survey questions)

          • Tim Casteel

            We’ve had a lot of success by not putting Campus Crusade anywhere on our survey table. Chick-Fil-A gives us 3000 “Free Chicken Sandwich” cards. So we put up professional looking banners that have the Chick-Fil-A logo and “Free Chick-Fil-A”. We’re very up front with people when they come to the table and ask about the survey: “They’re spiritual interest surveys” but less than 1% walk away at that point.

            • DJ

              Yeah I guess a good question is “What percentage of our tabling survey contacts are believing Christians (or say they are)?” We got a bunch of contacts, and I would say about 70-80% of them are professing Christians. That’s great, and we meet with everyone of them, share the gospel, give our vision, plug in, etc.

              I would be interested to know what you guys think that percentage break-down would be? I am sure we could do more to get more non-xian contacts as well (although we try to be as up front as possible with students to avoid an possibility of them not know who we are or what our purpose is).

              Question: If our campus is getting 20-30% of our survey contacts are unchurched (or dechurched) non-xians, should we could that as “LEADING THE WIN CYCLE with evangelism”? Or is the fact that 70-80% of our survey contacts are Christians mean we are in practice LEADING WITH GATHERING?

              • DJ

                That should say, “Should we COUNT that…” not “should we could that”

              • Tim Casteel

                I’m sure your campus is far more secular – but ours is 76% confessing Christian. So obviously that will lead to fairly different approaches!

                We have a ton of non-Christians do surveys. But most are not follow-up-able. They check No-No on our spiritual interest survey (34% of our responses were No-No – to info on God and info on Bible Study).

                It seems like there are essentially 2 kinds of students:
                1) Those who will come to Christian activities (some may need more prompting than others) – they’re cultural Christians or at least friendly toward cultural Christianity. Statistically (according to Souls in Transition) this is 60% of college students. (like I said, for our camps it’s much higher)
                2) Those who are not interested (not all antagonistic, most just don’t care)

                What they share in common is that the vast majority of both groups misunderstand Christianity and the gospel. When you invite them to pursue God they think religion (Group 1 says “I’ll come!”; Group 2 says “I don’t want anything to do with religion”) – obviously some Tim Keller influenced thoughts!

                So in the first four weeks, we invite the first group to join Bible Studies and come to Cru. Evangelism toward that first group is mostly involving them in real gospel-saturated teaching and community. And helping them understand that they probably don’t understand grace and the gospel.

                For the second group, evangelism is a longer process and hopefully we start a ton of relationships with them in the first four weeks. Some even come to Christ in the first four weeks but most will take longer. But ideally it’s students doing this connecting, not staff. Staff initiate and connect them to christian students. To quote Mike Beckham, director at Oklahoma (from a comment he wrote on my blog):
                “In reality we [staff] are likely to seem like we [staff] are doing a bait and switch with students because we don’t have the time to develop a relationship of significant depth with very many students. Even when we do we are not the most natural people for them to connect with. In contrast our students do have time to develop long term relationships where the gospel can be talked about over natural relational connection. As a result our staff team sees our role as introducing new students to our gospel community. The relationship side of the ministry is primarily owned by the students.”

                • DJ

                  Tim those are great thoughts. I think you “2 categories” of students really ring true too. And (as a huge TK fan myself), I agree that the majority of CHRISTIAN students either down get the gospel or have a very shallow understanding of it. And I think your strategy (which is essentially what we do too) of trying to reach the other group through longer-term relationships with students also makes sense (assuming our campus has a higher % of those, though not New York high or anything).

                  Perhaps a good question is: When does this “classic” ministry philosophy need adapting depending on the size of that 2nd group? Our friend is in France on Stint right now, where she says only 1% of students are Christians or professing Christians. Should she spend her time with “classic” philosophy and gathering?

                  Or does it ever need adapting?

        • Brian Barela

          “But here is the thing, we are spending 90% of our staff conversations now on, “How do we keep these Christian freshmen around and give them an identity and get them involved so we have something to build off of.” We are NOT talking about how to share the gospel with lost students on campus, all because of the movement building pressure.”

          i didn’t feel this pressure/tension at all. i felt pressure (the good kind) to identify the freshmen (christian and non) who were farthest away from Jesus either in theology or relationally, and to take the appropriate step (share the gospel/satisfied or get them connected to 1-2 other people).

          i don’t how the movement building piece got so blown up here in the conversation–and that somehow it’s separate from evangelism.

          i think we all wish we could share the gospel more in the fall–but getting as many people plugged into a gospel community is just as significant–and again when the gospel content does take hold they are surrounded by a community.

          i get what you are saying dj, paul, and alisha but it just continues to seems like either you are movement building or you are sharing your faith–which i don’t think anyone is advocating.

          • DJ

            “i think we all wish we could share the gospel more in the fall–but getting as many people plugged into a gospel community is just as significant…”

            I think the difference I am expressing is that many leaders say the Win Cycle is LEADING with EV and gathering Christians AS you lead with EV. Just yesterday, on my coaching call David Martinelli said, “In the fall I want our staff sharing the gospel with as many people as possible.” This seems different your statement above Brian.

            I think that is just one thing I am trying to work out. There seem to be different definitions of what “Win” really means.

            • Brian Barela

              yeah i don’t experience a difference in what i’m saying and what david mentioned.

              when i say wish i mean i wish i could Find/Get in front of/ more non-christians.

              i don’t know if it’s been said (which is good bc that means tons of comments) but we have to acknowledge that following up non-xians takes significantly more time and energy than plugging in xians.

              that contributes to this slant towards gathering–it’s not that staff (at least me) want to gather more than win, but it just happens that way.

              sample non-christian win experience:
              1-text/msg on fb–no answer
              2-show up at door–not home
              3-text/msg on fb–answer, but skeptical, set up a time to meet
              4-fail to show for apt
              5-repeat steps 1-3

              sample christian gathering experience:
              1-text/msg on fb–receive enthusiastic answer, set up apt
              2-shows up for apt and asks to be help, invite to help at a mtg or even go out sharing/follow up
              3-shows up for that

              i’m being extreme but you see my point.

              multiply this over 200, 500, 1000 contacts and you end up w gathering over winning as the primary action taking place during the fall.

              i do agree some ministries/staff lead with gathering and then experience the windfall of that plus the pull towards gathering in the fall.

              however it seems like most staff a part of this discussion don’t fall into this category.

              • DJ

                Yeah that experience you described rings true dude. Way harder to get in front of non-believer contacts, even if you are trying very hard.

              • Paul Nunez

                “i do agree some ministries/staff lead with gathering and then experience the windfall of that plus the pull towards gathering in the fall.

                however it seems like most staff a part of this discussion don’t fall into this category.”

                Brian, what did you mean by that? That some staff “experience the windfall of gathering” but that “most don’t fall into that category”

                Cause I think what DJ and I are saying is we feel like we ARE falling into the windfall of just gathering. (unless you meant something different)

                i hear you guys saying loud and clear,”that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gather!!”- Yes I agree with that… although especially with what you and D Birch have been saying … I might disagree with how much to focus on gathering vs spending time with unchurched in the fall, or HOW to go about gathering.

                I like what Tim was saying down below, that we need to work our butts off in the first 4 weeks to find ways to build meaningful connections with non christians.

                But for fun, let me pose this scenario. What would you rather have to build a movement with? 3 non christians, 2 new converts, 3 christians (so 8 students) or 30 christian students? I would say the former because the vision is present from the beginning.

                • Brian Barela

                  i’m saying that some (not anyone in this discussion) ministries make little to no effort to reach out (to xians and non-xians) and still end up w new students who are xians.

                  that’s the windfall or pull that i’m talking about.

                  so for us (those in the discussion, ccc at large) who are intentional about reaching out and pursuing new people, as we reach out and pursue lost students, we not only get the natural windfall but also the fruit of reaching out–which can seem as though we are “only gathering.”

                  but if non-xians were more open to gospel content and gospel community then we would not experience this large discrepancy btw xians and non-xians.

                  for your scenario i would definitely go w option 1.

                  it’s not either xians or non-xians. maybe i’m hearing you and dj wrong but that seems like an undercurrent.

                  let’s say one of your leaders has 50 contact cards–5 hot non-xians, 20 hot xians, 15 mediums (half and half), and 10 colds (half and half).

                  if you told that leader to only spend his time on the hot and med non-xians, what would their days look like?

                  a lot of calling/texting/fb-ing w little response. sporadic apts. meanwhile xian freshmen who in 3 months will have more relational credibility w these non-xians are not being called, encouraged, aligned, etc.

                  maybe help me see what you want your week/days to look like.

                • Paul Nunez

                  Ok, thanks…this will be good to get down to handling the actual contacts.

                  In your scenario, at this point in my thinking I would like to see my staff and student leaders go after both hot nonxians and xians. Treat them as like they were 25 hot contacts in general. These are your priority. Maybe even contact all the 5 non x’s first since those will go colder faster.

                  In contrast I would argue against prioritizing the 20 hot xians then the non xians. I say this because of 1) the burden I have for those lost 2) the value of involving non xians or inb does so much to align and see the vision of the ministry lived out. From the beggining I think it’s critical for our emerging leaders to see the leaders investing in non xians, and for our main leaders to continually see the staff doing it also. The staff might not be as effective as an aligned student, but if staff aren’t sharing their faith in the beginning and they’re the full time missionaries? I just can’t help but think that’s big miss.

                  I guess my perception is that most staff would agree with me on that. I think you would too Brian, but maybe not?( I think Dan would disagree with me though.) So my issue is, “how do we do a better job really connecting to those 5 non xian hot contacts?”- which is what I think Tim’s post was about on “moving past irrelevance.”

                  So I agree Brian, that in pursuing both we end up with the fruit of getting xians invovled. And that is good fruit that should be celebrated and is necessary to become the kind of movement that will reach the campus. But my perception is that is pretty much what describes the vast majority of what I see happen… gathering with no actual winning of the unchurched. Is that not your perception?

                  So i think this conversation has been good for clarifying the importance of gathering. But I think my question from the onset was “are we building movements of mostly just gathering?” or “are we being effective at actually winning?”- I was burdened that I pretty much build movements of just gathering that doesn’t lead to winning. This lead naturally to questioning 1st 6 week practices, but that’s still a subset of my larger concern for our movements in general.

  • DJ

    I asked Holly Ashman on Facebook as an RD how would she define what “Win” is. Here is what she said. Perhaps gives clarification to my Question #1:

    “Ok, without having read all of their points, here is my opinion: “Win” as a word is meaning for us to WIN LOST STUDENTS to CHRIST. But part of the “WIN CYCLE” would include gathering believers and getting them plugged in to our MISSION. (Not just a Bible Study or weekly meeting, but saying YES EARLY to our mission!) (Usually why we have Fall Retreats, to clarify our mission to those we have gathered and to share the gospel to those who are not saved that have joined us. I would say our STAFF and student LEADERS need to be SHARING the Gospel at the beginning of the year more than working on details of “events. Other students can put on the “gathering events”. Does that help distinguish it?”

  • Bob Fuhs

    Great discussion all!

    For what it’s worth, this is not a new discussion. Check out this (sorry but rather lengthy quote) from “The Decisive Hour of Christian Missions” by John Mott:

    “[In densely populated areas] missionary leaders have advocated two different lines of policy. Some have advised that the mission concentrate its attention on the building up of the Christian community…in order for them to do the work of evangelization. This may be described as the policy of concentration. Other leaders have advocated that the mission should direct its efforts mainly to the surrounding non-Christian peoples with the view of evangelizing the whole region as speedily as possible. This may be called the policy of diffusion. These tow policies are, however, not permanently in conflict. One of them must invariably lead to the other before any district can be completely evangelized. The policy of concentration…must result in wide evangelization by the native workers who have been trained up for this purpose. The policy of diffusion…makes it important to follow up the work by following up the work by instructing the enquirers and training them for Christian service. Which of the two policies is to be followed first is one of the problems which ought to be solved in any adequate plan.” (page 119)

    Like Mike said, it’s probably chicken and egg stuff.

    For what it’s worth, I do not have a problem if our leaders on campus think of a Win cycle in the fall as more than getting the gospel to the lost. I am really fine with finding Christians. Heck, if the stats are to believed about most Christians falling away in college, we owe it to them to get them into a good Christian movement like Cru.

    I remember as a new staff sharing my faith on campus at first being bummed whenever I ran into Christian kids. After all, I was there to reach the lost. But, my thinking on that changed as I realized the need to raise up laborers. It’s actually exciting to meet a Christian who wants to grow in their faith in college because you can quickly involve them in the mission with you.

    • Mike Berk

      I was going to try to work the word “diffusion” into my post too. Thanks Bob.

  • Paul Nunez

    I would agree that gathering is part of the process of ultimately winning. I agree that to some degree it’s a necessary part of winning. But I’m just looking at my own ministry and leadership and asking, “has my gathering lead to seeing lost students become disciples”? Yes gathering xians is part of the process but it seems like that process doesn’t move beyond the gathering to ACTUALLY winning. Are we ACTUALLY winning the lost students?

    I would say the mission statement that best describes my ministry so far is “turning found students into christ centered gatherers.” I have not seen significant success in actually reaching UNCHRUCHED people myself or through the people I have invested in. And while gathering is part of the process to win, it’s incomplete.

    So i have become discontent and grieved. Maybe the problem has to do my selection, but I don’t think that’s the main problem. Bill Bright did gather but he did a whole heck of a lot of personal evangelism. He lived and breathed sharing his faith all the time. So the Christians he gathered came into contact with someone who was faithfully engaging anyone with the Gospel.
    So I think the problem is NOT with our student leaders or our selection. I look back at how I’ve lead and I think the problem is I’M not really sharing my faith with lost students. I’m not really engaging the A-T’s or whatever. EV is sprinkled throughout my life but I don’t live it. I don’t have many stories to tell my students of spirit led conversations with my neighbors or students on campus. I don’t have a lot of non christian friends in my life.

    I see the issue as I have a heart problem with engaging the lost myself. Therefore I have an equipping problem because how I can pass one what I don’t really do? I pass on what I know… gathering. Building a bible study. Recruiting to fall retreat, wc’s and sp’s. Doing random evangelism where I ask the right questions and people go through a booklet or watch an ipod or look at pictures or whatever.

    So yes I am wondering about CCC’s movement building philosophies and structures that maybe center too much on gathering. As we adapt our ev tools to fit a changing culture, shouldn’t we be evaluating our movement building methods and practices? Not for the sake of questioning but from minimal ACTUAL results?

    But I’m wondering for those leaders who agree their ministries have a #winning problem, if the real problem is our hearts as staff not really being full of faith to engage the lost culture ourselves, and our structures and practices reflect that. I am almost 100% sure that’s my problem. So yes lets question our movement building methods, but first I see this as a personal heart problem that I don’t want bringing down the whole movement at SJSU into ONLY or MOSTLY gathering xiants with little to no ACTUAL winning of the un-churched.

    • DJ

      Paul, thanks so much for writing that. It puts into better words the very same concern and experiences I have had. Also, I am very convicted that my personal life lacks sharing Jesus with my neighbors and those God has placed me in contact with.

      I would only add one more thing to the thought that our HEARTS are the problem with winning more students, and that is that perhaps the MINISTRY BUILDING philosophy we currently have, as well as the pressure to launch MORE MOVEMENTS, doesn’t allow staff the TIME to spend with unchurched students.

      We had this very thing come up in our staff meeting a couple weeks ago. We have lots of Christian freshmen to follow-up, get on board, cast vision to, etc. We also have about 20-30% of our initial contacts that we have shared the gospel with, but they are not ready to make a decision, but are spiritually interested. They don’t want to join Cru either. So one of our staff, In light of classic ministry philosophy to gather the “right” Christian students and align them, asked, “Are you saying I can spend extended time with these lost students? What do I do with all the Christian students we have to meet with?”

      I would also say this is the finding of the recent “Changing Evangelism Study” ( that Tim Henderson (Penn State MTL) and his team found: staff feel that the next best step for most lost students is more conversations (more sowing), but they don’t FEEL THE FREEDOM to actually do it.

      If we are an evangelistic ministry, then something is wrong when our staff don’t feel freedom to do what they believe is the next best step in evangelism for a student.

      • Paul Nunez

        yeah good follow up. Both present us with potential obstacles.

        With so many variables to the equation (personal passion and gifting, school demographics, state of the movement etc) , I wonder if there’s freedom in the organization for leaders to build their movement (with coaching) as God is leading them. For some that might be more traditional methods, for others, more time spent on working with unchurched and re thinking retreats and conferences etc…

        If Crusade is not reaching the unchurched, what are willing to do about that? What should we do about that? I reaching for something.

    • Paul Nunez

      Ok now that i got that baby out of me, I do want to say that his has been a great discussion for me that’s helped me not throw the baby out with the bath water and more clearly see the importance, even call to gather. Lots of good points being made all around.

      • Brian Barela

        really liked reading your comments paul. thanks for taking the time to get your thoughts out there!

      • destinoeric

        Let me make a plea for all of you who feel like you need to do more EV personally. SHARE WITH HISPANICS AND LATINOS! We’ve found them to be incredibly open to the gospel (1 in 4 trusted Christ with us last fall) and we’ve seen tons of people come to faith. Our Destino weekly meeting is now bigger than the Cru meeting on our campus.

        The changing evangelism report is good, but it is silent on the topic of ethnic realities in the US. I feel like the Latino population is primed to see movements explode. We just have a lack of laborers.

      • Tim Casteel

        I agree Brian – great reading your comments Paul. Love your heart and vulnerability.

        I’d say as a director that I feel complete autonomy and “freedom in the organization” to do what our team feels is best to reach our particular campus. That’s one thing I love about my job – the ability to really lead – to see a problem (lost people, scope) and figure out the best solution.

        For us, on our campus, that solution has been movement building. Gathering AND winning during the first 4 weeks. But as Brian pointed out above, gathering tends to take up more time: “multiply this over 1000 contacts and you end up w gathering over winning as the primary action taking place during the fall”. But then spending the other 24 weeks on campus helping our students do evangelism in their spheres of influence.

        I think what we’re all experiencing the frustration that there are way too many contacts and non-Christian freshmen who are open (at least relationally). And not nearly enough missionally minded laborers. The answer? In 2015 we hope there will be.

        Movement Building (gathering successively bigger freshmen classes) and Equipping/Motivating Christian students to share their faith (to live in the dorms, seek out the lost esp. during the first 4 weeks) will result in having enough laborers to start all those relationships during the first 4 weeks. But it won’t happen this year. Or even next year. And if all we do is “win” in the first 4 weeks (not gather/movement build) – it will never happen. We may reach more lost people this year (thru herculean effort by staff sharing their faith 40 times a week) but we’ll be starting over next year.

        And related to focusing on the lost in the first 4 weeks: The main way I’ve seen surveys “work” in regard to reaching non-Christians is as an open door to start a relationship. Sometimes, if God has so prepared their heart, we can lead them to Christ on the first appointment. But that’s not at all the norm. And I don’t think it’s lack of boldness/faith. I think it’s the fact that God is irrelevant to most college students.
        Our team has really wrestled with this issue and I’ve written up on my blog our new attempt to overcome this scenario (and would love help tweaking it even more – it needs a lot of work):

        I agree non-Christians are the most open in the first 4 weeks. But to what? Not to surveys or immediate gospel presentations (or at least, not most). They’re open to new relationships and ideas. So we should work our butts off starting as many relationships with non-Christians as possible the first four weeks (and by we I mean students – with staff going with them). And sharing the gospel with those people over the course of the year.

        • Brian Barela

          dude you could (and should) write a book on that last quote:

          “I agree non-Christians are the most open in the first 4 weeks. But to what? Not to surveys or immediate gospel presentations (or at least, not most). They’re open to new relationships and ideas. So we should work our butts off starting as many relationships with non-Christians as possible the first four weeks (and by we I mean students – with staff going with them). And sharing the gospel with those people over the course of the year.”

          how can we get this thinking to spread? !!!!

          • Tim Casteel

            Brian – do you and I need to get a life since we’re spending our Saturday morning doing this? :)

            I always tell students, when thinking about what to do for their job when they graduate – “look at what you do in your spare time – do that for your job!”. We’re blessed to have a “job” that we’d do in our spare time anyway!

            • Brian Barela

              ha. no way dude. this is fun. the conversation has been energizing.

          • DJ

            I love the thoughts and heart too guys. Tim, you have really thought this stuff through and I appreciate that. Actually I think your thinking Tim seems to fuse Tim Keller’s stuff on the distance non-believers are from the gospel today with classic CCC movement building stuff. Really helpful for me personally.

            To be honest too, this IS how we have operated the last few years. Our seniors who have sat under this teaching fall into two categories: 1) Those who are really good at making relationships and living missionally and sharing their faith; and 2) Those who get it but really aren’t good at sharing their faith, or are socially inept that it is just too hard for them.

            Maybe that is where some of my confusion/frustration has come from, that not all the students, though 90% have gotten the heart, aren’t all ABLE to do it, or just aren’t doing it for some other reason. Therefore, we HAVE seen a few unchurched non-believers join us and come to Christ, but very few. So we are left with not REALLY turning LOST students into Christ-Centered laborers, but turning mainly FOUND students…

            But I agree with the overall thoughts, very engaging and thought-provoking. Keeps me sharp and thinking through what is best.

Back to Top ↑