Culture Movements

Permission Granted: A Call for Culture Change

Welcome to the 2nd Annual CCC Blog-ference. I’m glad you dropped by. My first post will be a little longer than usual in order to establish context. Stick with me and please add comments to move the conversation forward.

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 1:11

Our great God has been powerfully at work exalting Himself among the nations. Ever since the CM2007 student gathering in Busan, Korea, I have observed worldwide a noticeable surge in student ownership of CCC’s calling, vision and mission. In part, this ownership has come due to our renewed message: It’s Your Movement. What is God calling you to do next? At a deeper heart level, I believe God is raising a new generation of students who have replaced cynicism with healthy ambition and who truly believe they are able to change the broken world prior generations have bequeathed them.

Recently I completed the first two years in my new role of giving leadership to the Global Campus Strategy. I have personally visited 10 of our 14 Areas of Affairs, spoken to more than 15,000 students, and had hundreds of informal conversations with CCC campus staff members. What a learning experience this has been! I constantly find myself humbled by the radical faith of my brothers and sisters as well as the daunting scope of our common mission. I’ve also observed some macro-trends affecting our movement.

Reality Check 1: Globally, the number of college students has roughly doubled from 60 million to 130 million in the past 15 years. Governments of developing countries have realized that their future depends upon a well‐educated population who can compete in today’s borderless glocal economy. Traditional physical campuses can no longer absorb the growing student body and have limited new admissions. The fastest growing campuses are those such as the University of Phoenix, which boasts 345,000 students in 204 locations and has 75% of students taking courses online. Metro areas such as Moscow with 1.2 million students, Mexico City with 400,000 students, or Rome with 250,000 students can no longer be broken down into campuses, but must take into account Student Population Centers where students commute to class, live at home, and hang out with friends somewhere in the city.

Nikolin, our National Campus Director in Albania, observes that for us who are constantly looking for future leaders it has made our job more difficult. It’s harder to identify, select and invest in truly influential student leaders who can and will change their world. In his words: “We have to work a lot and find little gold.”

Reality Check 2: CCC will never have enough staff, interns or partners to grow movements in every key student population center. Although many countries have seen fruit in raising and releasing STINT or missional teams to launch new movements, our progress is not keeping up with the explosion of new campuses. However, we operate under the deep conviction that Jesus has not left himself without witness and has already prepared key students and faculty on every campus to live, love and truly follow Him. One of our great challenges is to find new ways – both in person and online – to sow broadly, filter well, identify God’s leaders, and invite them into our vision of Movements Everywhere.

Reality Check 3: Campus Crusade must effectively navigate the transition toward our Movements Everywhere vision. Over the past 10-15 years we have seen our focus on building movements of spiritual multiplication slip significantly in many places around the world. Too often we have substituted evangelistic activities for personal proclamation of Jesus, settled for “having disciples” instead of “making disciples,” and perpetuated staff-controlled ministries rather than unleashing student-led movements that are served by CCC staff. We are not currently seeing enough fruit, effectiveness and growth to make significant progress toward Movements Everywhere among the college students of the world. Simply put: We can’t get there from here.

Healthy student movements of spiritual multiplication form the very core of our unique calling from God in contributing to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. CCC leaders worldwide recognize the time is ripe for change. The next two years represent a significant window of opportunity. We must — both in ministry philosophy and concrete field application — bring effective campus movement launching and building to the forefront of all we do.

Let’s Lead the Way
CCC has a rich legacy and great core values. Yet like any 60-year old organization, we become prisoners of prior success. When God worked powerfully we wrote training manuals and materials to teach others how to do the same thing well. Systems and structures arose to support those processes. But each generation has new felt needs which require different approaches. What helped us in the past can prevent us from being effective in the present and cripple us in the future. We must keep changing in order to remain effective.

The first of five key shifts we must make is returning to a mission-defined, value-driven culture. Organizational culture refers to the underlying values, beliefs and principles that serve as a foundation for an organization’s management system, as well as the practices and behaviors that both exemplify and reinforce those basic principles. We lead from these values rather than being driven by materials, events, donors, or numbers.

Realizing that our work is ultimately spiritual, we must lead from our values of faith, growth and fruitfulness, so that…

a. Everyone is living out a passionate walk with God, utterly dependent on Him in and for all things. That dependence is expressed personally and corporately through pervasive prayer, holy lives, and love for one another. It results in leading from the foundation of our walk with God, unity, speaking the truth in love, and taking faith risks.

b. Everyone is growing and developing in Christ-like character, ministry skills, personal capacity, and exercising initiative in leading rather than relying on permission.

c. Everyone is bearing lasting fruit in their lives and ministries, continually examining the results of their efforts. We do whatever it takes to help people connect with Jesus, and become true followers of Him. Like the lessons of pruning the vine, this may require more focus on life-on-life discipleship and movements, rather than having a few people leading many strategies.

No one needs permission to radically live out our values. No matter where you are, no matter what position you hold, you can lead with humble boldness from this rich spiritual base.

When it comes to value-driven servant leadership, change starts with me.


By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at

14 replies on “Permission Granted: A Call for Culture Change”

ken great insights as always. so thankful for your role that allows you to see the global landscape.

b-everyone is growing…
from what i have seen this has been the hardest to lead others in and experience personally. the fear of doing something new, trying something new, responding to the Lord in a new way, etc is significant.

i’m wondering what you have learned about leading yourself and others out of fear, because i could definitely grow a ton in this area.

Alex Costa
CCC Staff
Ohio State University

I don’t have much to say, because I feel like you have used this to set up the rest of the week, but your insights were very eye opening, and your honesty is appreciated. There is one comment I couldn’t agree with more from your blog…

“Too often we have substituted evangelistic activities for personal proclamation of Jesus, settled for “having disciples” instead of “making disciples,” and perpetuated staff-controlled ministries rather than unleashing student-led movements that are served by CCC staff.”

outstanding topic ken. i hope you get some good dialogue on this one. i read through a wiki site ( on organizational culture recently and was struck by the the old thoughts from Charles Handy on a Person Culture:

A Person Culture exists where all individuals believe themselves superior to the organization. Survival can become difficult for such organizations, since the concept of an organization suggests that a group of like-minded individuals pursue the organizational goals. Some professional partnerships can operate as person cultures, because each partner brings a particular expertise and clientele to the firm.

I like the end of Handy’s thoughts here – professional partnership within the organization. This allows individuals and teams of people to dream and create without restriction. The tension comes from the organizational values that seem to restrict rather than empower. The culture that Campus Crusade has today was not the one it began with – good or bad (or both). My quest revolves around trying to change our current culture (those things that define us outside of our core values) that restrict people from doing all God has called them to do.


good post.

I am going to expand a little on what Joe said. I think there is organization culture that is holding us back. I’ve been working with Destino for about a year now and I’m beginning to see that often in our organization we tend to not value those who are different than us. We like people who are like us. We seem unwilling, for whatever reason, to cross cultural boundaries and partner with people who are different than us. (How many Catholics are on staff? How many charismatics are leading movements with us? How ethnically diverse is our leadership structure?)

Even if we return to “making disciples” instead of just “having disciples”, we’ll still stay a ‘white’ organization. We have to be willing to change who we are to reach people of different ethnicities. The more Latinos (or any other ethnicity) get involved in Crusade the more Latino crusade philosophy should get. We can’t stay white in values/culture and expect to reach the world.

Donald McGavran’s Homogeneous Unit Principle is playing out perfectly with us. We have to start giving more than lip service to the idea of crossing cultures and accepting those who are/think/believe different from us.



Just a newsflash that Crusade has successfully been crossing cultures for decades and launching ‘nonwhite’ movements around the globe. If it is effective crossing cultures that you want you might want to checkout WSN or HRX and look beyond the borders of the US.


I don’t understand point c. I understand the idea of bearing lasting fruit, and self-examining to look for that. What I don’t understand is the comment about pruning the vine and the contrast of life-on-life discipleship to few people doing many strategies. Could you give an example of what you are trying to describe?


Great question. Upon rereading I agree that point c could be clearer. My point relates to some of Brian Barela’s post on the Death of the Four Laws: It’s tempting to look for the “silver bullet” strategy that gains the most converts per dollar or per hour. God has used and continues to use many of CCC’s mass evangelism strategies to soften hearts, open dialogs, and sometimes gain many immediate decisions for Christ.

There is nothing inherently wrong with these strategies. But we can too easily become enamored with instant results. Christ didn’t call us just to make converts; he called us to make disciples. When we start too many strategies at once (even on a single campus) we need to be willing to prune back, focus, stop doing some stuff and ask the hard question: Where are the disciples? What are their names? How are they doing?

In response to Eric (from Destino): I think there’s a reason that there aren’t many (any?) Catholic staff in CCC. Assuming that CCCI’s Statement of Faith is the same one that we use here in Canada (Power to Change, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada), it implicitly goes against Roman Catholic beliefs (e.g. the Bible as 66 books, and probably several other doctrinal points).

But on the issue of cross-cultural boundaries in organizational philosophy and leadership, I think that you raise a valid point. I can’t speak on whether the US campus/Crusade ministries are erring in this area, since I’m from Canada, but I do think there’s a difference between CCCI having many diverse ministries across the world vs. having its own US ministry reflect the diversity that is inherent in America. In other words, just because we have Korean or Tanzanian or European ministries doesn’t mean that it’s ok to have an entirely homogeneous US campus ministry or leadership (because the US isn’t an entirely homogeneous population). I’m not saying that’s what happening – I don’t know enough of the US ministry to say.

In response to Joe Cross: I’m not sure that Crusade should be a Person Culture. I’m thinking we’re still more like a traditional organization. While each individual might bring unique skills and traits to the broader movement, that’s different from saying that we can operate like individual entities like professionals do. Campus staff, for example, don’t operate like independent professionals with our own clientele. Here in Canada, at least, we do everything under the direction of directors and we submit to the overarching goals and objectives for our campus and our national movement. In that sense, I see myself as a Canadian campus staff (intern) as submitting to an organization and its directives and goals. I serve under the organization, rather than me being in charge of my own ministry and I just partner with other ministries through a professional organization as I so choose.

– Campus for Christ staff intern, Power to Change (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada)

I’m thankful for your perspective in your role. As I was reading through your post, I thought, we need to step up, our disciples need to step up, and we need to challenge them and ourselves. To lead, to love people radically, and to focus not so much on doing the church’s work, but on being the church. I can’t imagine the difference that it would make in our hearts if we just started there.

when we challenge new student leaders, point ‘c’ is the one we seek to emphatically drive home.

so many student think a bible study leader is a ‘teacher’ and a community life/social team leader is an ‘expert party planner.’ we try to communicate that being a leader is really about being a spiritual multiplier who happens to lead a bible study or ministry team.

In my first couple years at Chico it was so hard to resist the urge to fill positions with students who had the skills but lacked the character of a leader.

Every year we have experienced pruning in our movement–sometimes it has been us staff doing the pruning, other times it has been students selecting themselves out.

as our movement continues to grow in who we are rather than what we do our overall health and effectiveness on campus has skyrocketed.

These kinds of observations are vital to us that will be affected by these trends but don’t have the 30,000 foot perspective that you do. Thanks for making it a point to discern and disseminate this info.

“…students can no longer be broken down into campuses, but must take into account Student Population Centers where students commute to class, live at home, and hang out with friends somewhere in the city… It’s harder to identify, select and invest in truly influential student leaders who can and will change their world.”

We see this in small ways in metro areas even as small as Oklahoma City. How do you reach students that either don’t identify themselves primarily as students or don’t “do” student life like the small percentage that live on campus, join clubs, etc.? Like you mentioned, students are increasingly are non-traditional and non-residential. Their social networks extend far off campus into many other sectors of society; in fact, most students have little social interaction with other students beyond their hours in class or possible project groups. (This may seem like an odd statement for those that spend a lot of time on campus with students, but it is precisely those students that are on campus all day that are the minority percentage.)

Evangelistic outreaches cannot reach all these people. Weekly meetings cannot reach these people. Local church worship services and programs cannot reach these people. Only people can reach these people; only people that care, that can lead themselves and others, that can cross cultural, socio-economic, age, and affinity group boundaries to develop real relationships on a day-to-day basis will be able to permeate student population centers. We have to develop leaders, not programs. We have to preach values, not structure. We have to make disciples, not gather converts…like you said.

On Reality Check #3, what would help team leaders navigate the transition to Movements Everywhere would be having statistics that not only reflect the values of the organization but also the context in which they serve. While the values remain the same, what those values look like in practice will be different for a team leader at UCLA than that for Greater Arkansas or Boston Metro or Ole Miss. Though we count things like students involved and spiritual multipliers, we don’t count things like volunteer leaders or partnerships with churches or service projects with non-Christian organizations, all of which can be vital to the mission and express the values of faith, fruit, and growth. There must be a way measure success and encourage innovation equally.

I liked the blog Ken.

My name is Dan Birch I work with Brian on CCC at chico state. I really liked your analysis of whats happening around the world with college students. And I definitely agree with you regarding the call to lead with faith, growth and fruitfulness.

I will say that “Reality Check 2: CCC will never have enough staff, interns or partners to grow movements in every key student population center.” is a bigger problem then we even realize, in fact could be the ROOT of alot of our problems off CCC as an organization.
Recently I visited a foreign country on a missions trip and faced with the fact of an urge to have movements on MULTIPLE campuses within this UNREACHED CULTURE. And after working in ministry there I realized this strategy was hurting the ministry of CCC then helping it. The old belief that “a movement for every campus” I think is paralyzing staff and movements around the world. The fact is that YES COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE INCREASING ALL THE TIME. And we do NOT have the capacity to keep up with that. and its leading to alot of the problems you mentioned. For example the need to have movements on 5 campuses instead of just focusing on 1 campus in the area could lead to:
-“having disciples” instead of making them. Because time and attention is focused on the next ministry instead of growing the ONE YOU HAVE
-Staff are not seeing fruitfulness on every campus and reasoning that to Gods Sovernity. When in fact if they would just PRUNE the vine, fruitfulness could be ABUNDANT. This leads to discouraged staff, and sometimes VACANCY of laborers who want to stay in that area.
-It also leads to an overall homogeneous type of GOSPEL LABORER. Meaning movements who spread then tend to have an EASIER time gathering CHRISTIANS instead of REACHING NON-CHRISTIANS who if converted can spread the gospel relational to there non Christians friends on campus which eventually leads to A BIGGER MOVEMENT in that place.
As you can see I think alot of it is interconnected:) And I think that as an ORGANIZATION, CCC has to prune the vine and rethink there strategy on campuses. Love to hear your thoughts, thanks!

My name is Victor and I’m on staff in Singapore rightnow. I wish I could’ve let some of the staff in Tokyo know about this blogference earlier. I have to agree with Dan, and appreciate him for helping to verbalise many of my (and I’d like to think, our) concerns when we were doing our STINT in that city two years ago.

In my two years there, I’d sense an overwhelming burden whenever we’re reminded of the VAST number of colleges in Tokyo alone, let alone the rest of Japan, and I felt when I was there that there wasn’t a healthy sense of being stretched in our faith as much as a burdensome weight on our shoulders in many of the staff.

My biggest concern was that there was such a sense of ‘fortress’ mentality in the churches I got to visit… that there is still SO much to do that we can’t afford to relax even a little to find joy in simply being saved and victorious. Instead there is such a focus on why we’re not seeing more effective evangelism and lasting fruit… and every other message was constantly harping on the need to make an impact at your campus/just be Spirit-filled witnesses/don’t be bogged down by feelings of inadequacy etc.

I honestly felt there was this unspoken pressure that’s just so heavy on our Japanese brothers and sisters.

Eric, I can appreciate your frustration. My CCC experience is very different. After 9 years in the USCM, my family packed up and moved to East Asia. For four years our family of four lived in a 600 sq ft apartment on a campus where our daily life consisted of learning the language, stumbling across cultural faux pas, and learning how to do E3 evangelism across barriers both seen and unseen.

After that I had the privilege of leading a multinational campus leadership team for many years comprised of five to seven different nationalities. All 8 of the regional teams we shepherded were multinational. An informal survey during our School of Leadership (overseas) revealed that 51 of our 55 new local team leaders were returning to lead multinational teams. My point is that we do have places where multinational partnership is highly valued and cherished.

Working across cultures (whether overseas or across the street) requires intentionality, patience, frequent suspension of my own preferences and assumptions, and the willingness to move more slowly to bring everyone on board. I think the NT calls this LOVE.

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