how (dfw) winter conference reflects campus crusade

As you may have seen via Twitter, I’ve had the wonderful chance to visit one of Campus Crusade for Christ’s famous Winter Conferences. These annual conferences are seen as key components of Cru ministry to students, so it was a joy to experience one.

(As you may have seen, I also got to learn InterVarsity through its mega-vanguard, the Urbana conference, last week!)

Unlike my surprising St. Louis voyage last week, I didn’t have to go too far to get to Winter Conference – simply across the Metroplex to Ft. Worth. What’s particularly cool about attending this one is that the Dallas-area’s Winter Conference seems to be one of the most historic. (So now I’ve been to the UCLA movement and DFW Winter Conference… I just need to make it to Ocean City Summer Project, right? What am I missing, Cru friends?)

So, as I did last week with Urbana / InterVarsity, I’d like to reflect on some ways this Winter Conference seemed to reflect the organization from which it comes. For those unfamiliar with CCC, maybe it’ll be a helpful primer. But please note: This is neither meant to be comprehensive or comparative (with other organizations). It’s just some of the distinctives that seemed to show up at Winter Conference.

I’ll make a couple of points today, with more tomorrow. If you want to see more of my varied reflections, you can read back through my tweets from Saturday and Monday, or see the dozen or so I tagged.

fun

One of Cru’s hallmark strengths, from what I can tell, is the preponderance of fun in its chapters. I’ve written before about this being something the other branches can learn from campus-based ministries – but even among those ministries, Crusade certainly seems to be one that places a high value on fostering a Culture of Fun.

Of course, that showed up at Winter Conference. School pride was on display, the emcee-gal was full of dry humor, a crazy monkey-suited fellow roamed about, students and leaders seemed to share true camaraderie inside and outside of official activities, and the atmosphere itself “felt” really lively – that final point being the most noticeable difference between the average Cru chapter I visit and some other ministries.

movement through levels of commitment

One of the most fundamental aspects of Campus Crusade for Christ methodology is its focus on pointing students toward next, deeper steps. Not only are attending students pushed toward small groups, but Cru also places a big premium on funneling students to Winter Conferences, Summer Projects, STINTs (short-term international missions), and, after graduation, staff involvement. In other words, their efforts at movement are energetic, to say the least.

(Cru calls their chapters “movements,” but my use of the word here actually comes from the book Simple Church; there, “movement” describes how organizations help attendees flow toward deeper involvement.)

Winter Conference certainly reflects this aspect of Crusade; the same focus on “movement” found on-the-ground was quite evident across those conference days. While many of the large sessions and seminars did focus on topics students can apply now, there was also plenty pointing students to future (and more committed) experiences. Seminars (often with free food attached) on upcoming Summer Projects, staff opportunities, and international missions through Crusade made up a sizable percentage of the week’s offerings. And those kinds of opportunities were also discussed at every main session I attended, I believe.

More tomorrow! [Here’s the continuation, with three more points!]

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7 Comments

  1. hey benson it’s refreshing to read your posts as a CCC-outsider but a college ministry insider.

    here’s some thoughts i would add to your two points:

    fun–definitely agree. i would add extroversion as a complementary element. even though i myself am an introvert, the vast majority of our staff are extroverts, which on the field level definitely manifests in fun.

    movement through levels of commitment–loved the words “funnel” and “focus”–i personally was drawn to CCC for these very things. it seems that this can sometimes get a bad rap in being “exclusive” or “pretentious” (which it certainly can and does) but overall i believe that the healthy desire is that we be good stewards of our students, and intentional about developing their ability to lead spiritually.

  2. Thanks big-time for your additions, Brian. That’s really interesting that you say that about extroverts – that idea actually crossed my mind several times at Winter Conference. (And I’m an introvert, too.)

    We may need somebody to write a book (or at least a journal article) on that sometime. One of these days, I need to read that new Introverts in the Church book. I’ve heard good things.

  3. Hhhhmmm….I don’t know if there are more extroverts on the staff of CCC or not. I’m not convinced :). I think for a lot of staff being around people all the time is pretty draining (including me), but they’ve bought into the vision and understand the value of it so they learn to deal. And introvertst know how to have fun too.

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