comments 31

Have You Read Changing Evangelism?

once again @destinoeric has done some serious ninja web research and shared a blog/research report that i had never heard of…

“Only 38% feel that the skills which they are encouraged to perform are the next best step for students on their campuses.”–here

“We are unskilled in using media, but there is little corresponding interest in developing this skill.”–here

“Many of our evangelistic strategies are based on the assumption that most people are ready to respond in faith.  However, there is evidence that this is no longer wholly true.”–here

What a refreshingly honest summary of the campus ministry landscape! These quotes come from Changing Evangelism, a report researched and reported online.

From their site: “In May of 2009 several leaders were commissioned by Campus Crusade’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Directors to conduct a research project about our staff’s satisfaction and effectiveness in evangelism.”

If you are on staff with CCC have you ever heard of this blog/report that the Mid-Atlantic Region did? Would love to have a larger context for such a great resource.

I’d encourage you to take a look around on the site or at least bookmark it for a later read. Click here to download the report on PDF.

photo courtesy of twcollins


  1. Scott B says

    Hey Brian, thanks for sharing this! I forwarded it to my director (Gilbert Kingsley) and think it would be a good topic for a team discussion in the fall.

  2. I am so incredibly thankful and grateful for this study! As someone who has raised similar thoughts/concerns about our current state of EV in CCC, this is super helpful.

    Many times when I have brought up thoughts like this with my fellow MTLs, about 50% of staff agree, and 50% of staff say something like “Whoa whoa whoa, hold on crazy progressive guy.” Ok, they don’t say that, but that is much of the attitude.

    I am so hopeful that this will spark more dialogue along our EV methods and culture.

    • it seems like it’s very hard for us to admit that we are not we used to be, and that’s okay.

      my biggest take-away/encouragement came from reading that we are not failing if we do evangelism differently than bill bright, or don’t see the same results.

      another good paradigm it busted: “If I just present the Gospel in ________ way then someone will trust Christ.” that is so poisonous towards innovating in evangelism.

      • Couldn’t agree more Brian. Another poisonous thing I saw in the comments section of the website. It said something like, “lost students are the same today as they have always been. They hate hell, and the gospel is always offensive to those who are perishing.” While that is theologically true, when taken to an extreme it denies 1 Cor 9:19-23, and the need to always adjust the ONE gospel to the hopes, dreams, barriers of various types of people.

        I really hope God uses this to spread widely across CCC and encourages good dialogue and change.

  3. “Unbelievers – Using a brief video clip from a Seinfeld episode, “Puddy is a Christian” (available on YouTube), we interviewed Unbelievers at four universities to discern which approaches they would find most beneficial in considering the message of Christ.

    Seriously… they were shown a clip from a television show from Winter 1998 (12 years ago) when students where 6-10 years old! It’s like showing me a clip from the Bob Newhart Show (was that I show? I don’t know).

  4. “Most would agree that the culture is radically different in Boston today than it was at UCLA in 1951…so why are 15 year old practices from the mid-west (sic) still being pushed?” – Staff

    And by the way, those 15-year old practices don’t work in the Midwest either. – Staff Guy in Michigan who grew up in Boston

    Perhaps they still work in the South… you know, by Headquarters.

    • i don’t have a hard time with practices being pushed–i have a hard time w an unwillingness to interpret/adjust/ignore those practices based on my local context.

      at chico we incorporate lots of old school evangelism–not because we are old school but because it works.

      i wish more staff would do what those involved in creating this report did–make thoughtful and discerning observations, explore alternatives beyond the mainstream, propose and integrate new solutions.

  5. “They are convinced they’ve already heard. | Regardless of how we adapt our evangelistic approaches, it is significant to know that our audience thinks they’ve already heard the message of Jesus (even if, in fact, they haven’t). Of the 34 unbelievers we interviewed, 31 felt that they’d already heard the message of Jesus.”

    This is almost a fantastic definition of PostChristian, if it added in that even though they have already think they’ve heard the message of Jesus – in trying to articulate it, they can’t.

    To me, the major problem is that many of our “Christians” already involved with our ministries ALSO can not articulate the message of Jesus. Our biggest source of Involved New Believers is to INSIDERS.

  6. Has anyone listened to the audio presentation yet? Some of the statements in the first 10 minutes are stronger than in the PDF. Here is the jist of it:

    1) The culture has changed
    2) CCC has not changed
    3) CCC must change… (or we will lose our ability to reach lost students and God will use other organizations as we slowly die out)”

    WHOA! Can you imagine that being said from up front at any Regional Conference, or think of that being said at CSU!

    Another point: we seem to embrace change in regards to ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE, but not in EV METHODS & PHILOSOPHY. Perhaps God would use this study to do this?

    • i don’t know about embracing change re org structure–seems like most people seriously resist and are tired from the many changes–be they org structure or titles.

      God is already using other ministries as the leading edge of evangelism–Lifechuch.tv being one of them.

      the better we can be at learning from others and trying to flatten out our org in as many places as possible the more effective we will be.

      • I’d like to go ahead & volunteer to serve at the tweetdeck during the CSU session where this is being presented. =)

        Brian, I really appreciated your earlier comment: “i wish more staff would do what those involved in creating this report did–make thoughtful and discerning observations, explore alternatives beyond the mainstream, propose and integrate new solutions.” That’s the attitude I want to have in whatever ministry setting I’m a part of. I know most of the commenters here are coming from the grid of Campus ministry, but I see it just as much in family or marketplace ministry (like the one-to-many events that FamilyLife hosts). I’m learning a lot from you & the other thoughtful commentors here. Thanks.

  7. Tim Henderson is doing some great work and making some great changes with CCC @ PSU. I’ve enjoyed working with him for kingdom purposes here.

    Other campus ministers–from CCC and other ministries–would do well to absorb and implement what they report here.

  8. Eric says

    I think the authors of “Changing Evangelism” have done a great job. I know one of them personally and am encouraged by their work.

    That being said, I’ll bring up a point that I’ve raised multiple times before. When the team speaks of the changing culture in the US, they really mean the changing white culture. Nowhere on the website have I found any reference to ethnic minorities and how that is changing the US. They make the mistake (that many others make) of generalizing what is happening in the white community to the whole US.

    Here’s why that matters:
    On our campus we’ve been working primarily with Hispanic students. We are using traditional CCC materials and strategies and are seeing tremendous success. This past fall, 1 in 4 students we shared the gospel with trusted Christ. The white community is indeed changing in the US, but let’s not overgeneralize that to what is happening across the country. I think the average Hispanic student on campus today is coming from a very similar situation as the average white student in the 1950’s. What was working for CCC then still works today with Latinos.

    I’m all for continuing to innovate in the area of evangelism and discipleship. In my experience though, we’re missing one of the biggest changes of all. America is no longer white. By 2023 college students in the US will be majority minority. By continuing to ignore that fact (even in this report) I fear we won’t know what hit us until it is too late.

    If I could have changed one thing about the report it would have been to include authors who were minorities or were working primarily with minority audiences. America is certainly changing, and those changes are not really discussed by this report.

    • Great thoughts Eric. So true. As a white American Christian I am certainly guilty of making that over-generalization.

      This is probably why the best thing for us to fight is a “one-size-fits-all” EV method and philosophy. We have embraced this with our contextualized ministries (Destino, Greek, Epic, etc) but usually NOT with how we share the actual gospel message.

      Biblically I continue to find 1 Cor 9:19-23 to be an amazing place for us to start our philosophy on EV.

      I find the beliefs that “the gospel message IS the 4-Laws” and “the gospel itself is powerful and offensive” will keep us from obeying 1 Cor 9:19-23 and adjusting aspects of the ONE gospel to the person/culture we are seeking to reach the lost in.

      That said, do you see any of the widely embraced tenets of white culture (in regards to post-modernism and the things in the PDF) seeping more into Latino students beliefs? We have seen Latino students become increasingly relativistic, though they still hold on to the Bible being valuable and religion being a good thing.

      • Eric says


        I definitely think that there are elements of majority culture “seeping in” to Latino culture, this is normal. But I agree with you that Latinos still see the Bible as valuable and religion as a good thing (I’m speaking in generalities).

        I agree with Matt’s comment below, the KGP booklet still works well in many places. In our desire to innovate let’s not throw out tools that are still working. Let’s add new ones.

    • Eric–a valid point that this doesn’t address EVERYONE, but I think we need to differentiate between ethnicity and culture. Case in point, many ethnic minority students still fit in quite well with majority culture, in terms of worldview, social media habits, consumptive patterns, etc. It’s possible to be multiethnic but monocultural.

      Race/ethnicity is but one category. I’d say that the evangelism report is addressing one particular (large, influential) cultural cohort, which certain ethnic minority groups DO fit in, and certain white groups (more blue collar, rural poor types) do NOT fit in.

      It’s worth saying that this generation is truly the most color-blind ever, and that ethnic minority students I work with don’t make it a big issue, nor want me to make it one.

      • Eric says

        It’s possible to be multiethnic but monocultural.


        Thanks for responding.

        Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet, says that America’s greatest problem is coming to grips with the fact that it is a multicultural society. I’m inclined to believe him. I would argue that most minorities in America do not share the same worldview and values as white culture. I think this is the mistake that we in the (fill in the blank: church, ministry, seminary, etc) make. We think that America is a melting pot when really its more like a tossed salad. I bet if your experience is anything like mine, your church (seminary, ministry) is dominated by one culture. In CCC, that’s white culture.

        I read a great book last year that probably expresses what I’m trying to say better than I can. It is called The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity by Soong-Chan Rahhttp://amzn.to/96NZmj. He does a great job of explaining how Western culture has influenced the church and how God is really growing the minority church.

        I think the Biblical model we should be striving for is not one of colorblindness, but of seeing color and celebrating it for its inherent beauty. In Revelation John makes sure to point out that there are people there from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. Each ethnos has unique ways of experiencing and interacting with God. As we learn from them and explore God from there perspective we end up with a fuller view of God.

        While I disagree with you on this issue of culture and ethnicity, I do appreciate the ministry you have done and are continuing to do (especially with ethnic minorities). May God increase your tribe!

        • @Eric–I believe you misunderstood me. I agree that many ethnic/racial minorities possess a different set of cultural beliefs, reference points, and experiences. These must be taken into account, learned from, and celebrated.

          I only wanted to point out that not all ethnic minorities differ in their cultural experience from the majority, and that some align with white majority culture in important ways–and thus would be subject to many of the same issues that the authors of the report raise.

          I wasn’t arguing to view minorities in a reductionistic, “they’re just like us” way; instead, I was arguing for nuance in how we characterize the culture of ethnic minorities. They’re not monolithic among themselves either. Some are more “American” than me. 🙂 Race/ethnicity is one important factor in culture, but it’s not the only one.

          I had a conversation with someone from Impact a few years ago in which she detailed a 3-fold categorization for cultural assimilation among their minority students. I wish I could remember the terminology, but it was helpful.

          Philip Jenkins and Mark Noll have also done some great work on the global church and how it intersects with our Western/American experience. They are also conspicuously less angry than Rah seems to be (at least to me).

          • Eric says


            Yeah, I agree with you that we shouldn’t treat all minorities the same. There is surprising diversity even among ethnic groups. I also agree that many minorities will have much in common with mainstream culture. But I do think it is important for us to realize that generalizing mainstream culture to be inclusive of everyone needs to stop.

            Impact has used a three-fold categorization for helping people understand ethnic issues. They use an A-B-C model (assimilated, bi-cultural, contextualized). In my experience this is far too reductionistic of a model and ends up doing more harm than good. There’s a better model in “Being Latino in Christ” by Orlando Crespo (the model applies to other minorities as well). I would really recommend it. (Basically Crespo’s model puts Ethnicity and Assimilation on an X-Y axis instead of just a one-dimensional continuum. The difference with his model is that a student could be high in assimilation with mainstream culture but also identify highly with their ethnic identity. This is not really possible with the A-B-C model)

            Lastly, I think it is important to listen to the Rah’s anger. Jenkins and Noll have done excellent work, but their work is different in one important regard. They are writing as members of the dominant culture (here in the US). They do research from a privileged position (that’s not wrong, but we can’t ignore it when comparing them to Rah). They don’t have the same negative experiences that Rah has had to endure. Anger is not necessarily a sign that something is wrong with the person, just as when Jesus angrily cleared the temple. Anger does make us uncomfortable, but we need to enter in to his feelings before we can truly understand where he is coming from. Maybe its a sign of how far we have yet to go.

    • Quick clarification–I’m not part of the CCC tribe, but have worked with/alongside several CCC ministries, including that of one of the authors of the Changing Evangelism report.

    • Matt Mikalatos says

      yeah, I would just agree that the study is pretty heavily weighted toward a specific cultural context. Some of the things that are shared are not true, for instance, in the Northwest, where I live.

      And, as much as people hate to hear it… the “Knowing God Personally” books still work here, if they’re presented in relationship.

      I’m all for innovation, of course. I just don’t think we have to throw old tools away to use and make new ones, and the Holy Spirit is the ultimate contextualizer of the gospel.

      • the knowing god personally works great at chico too matt. however for those who are far from the gospel both in knowledge and experience (by that i mean knowing a solid believer/s) the KGP is next to useless.

        the four laws is a reaping tool–it’s a deal closer.

        i think the space that we can innovate in is the deal opener, or deal starter.

        if someone is close to accepting christ there is no other tool out there than the KGP.

        from doing a lot of training w soularium it seems like there is confusion over the tool–re is it a starter or a closer.

        in form it’s a starter but i’ve seen the emphasis being placed on it from many staff as thought it’s a closer–which leaves many who are actually uses it confused.

        wondering if you’ve had any similar experiences.

  9. Hi Brian, Thanks for posting this for us all. I think this is exactly the sort of wide-ranging research that we need to see where we and our culture are. I hope it is widely read.

    I am intrigued as to how the hot discussion on ministry mode evangelism on this blog would turn in response to this information.

    • sure karl.

      it would be challenging to merge the two discussions in some way.

      my quick take–this report only affirms for me that ministry mode is still a critical part of a CCC movement’s evangelistic strategy–it’s “the how” that needs serious renovation.

      if someone associates ministry mode w random evangelism then they are going to see the report as an apologetic for not doing ministry mode.

      the research was so affirming for me because it acknowledged this HUGE opportunity to innovate in sowing.

      what are some connections you are making between the two?

  10. I agree with you that it is important to see ministry mode as more than just randoms. One of the things I noticed from the earlier discussion was how prevalent such a view was.

    The study certainly sung the praises of natural mode evangelism, but I think their point was more that we don’t train our students (or staff) in that nearly as much as ministry mode.

    Another couple of things. There was a comment about how people ended up doing randoms because the other main focus of ministry mode (hostels) had closed up with security. I think the onus is on us to think creatively how we can open new avenues for ministry mode.

    Also, I noticed that the new believer’s experience they documented had elements of all three modes of evangelism, and I think this is key. I think the best evangelism we will do is that which incorporates all three modes.

    • good thoughts karl.

      because you can’t get into the dorms doesn’t mean you are supposed to walk around campus doing randoms (i know you agree on this)

      i had a hard time engaging students in the dorms at ucla as a new staff, which was redemptive because it caused me to pay more attention to the large number of Latino contacts i ended up with, which led to starting a Destino movement.

      i’m assuming God has tons of things like this planned for our staff if they can break free from the feeling that they have to do what we have been doing in the 50’s in order to be a good staff member.

  11. Actually in some ways we need to be more like the staff in the 50s. Those staff were always trying news things, some worked and some didn’t. They made huge inroads into two of the systems of social networks on campus – Greeks and athletes.

    But 50 years later the campus has changed. Campuses are a lot bigger now than then, more the size of a whole town or city, less students are coming from a church background, privacy and security have become big issues on most campuses, Greeks and athletes are no longer the centre of campus life, in fact it is hard to discern a centre of campus life in many campuses. In short, the puzzle we need to solve is not the same puzzle they needed to solve, so we need to expect that we will have different solutions, but we can still have the same guiding principles, same vision, same mission, etc

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