4-5 Months out
Ask the Lord to open your eyes to his plan for your team and your campus this year. Pray that he would make your understanding of the EII Forum clear and how it might be used to help further your team’s effectiveness in reaching students on your campus.
Meditate on Matthew 5:13-16
Section I: Vision
What is the purpose of an Executive and Entrepreneurial Leadership Forum?
Most of us can rattle off the Vision and Mission statements of Cru rather quickly. Vision: building spiritual movements everywhere so that everybody knows somebody who authentically follows Jesus. Mission: Turning lost students and faculty into lifelong Christ-centered laborers. Embedded in Cru’s DNA is reaching students on university campuses throughout the world.
Something that has fallen to the wayside in recent decades, though, has been our effectiveness in successfully reaching student leaders on campuses, that they might use their platforms to become shining beacons for the gospel on their respective campuses. This used to be much more common.
Take, for example, this photo of our founder, Bill Bright, pictured alongside UCLA football stars Bob Davenport and Don Shinnick as well as Rafer Johnson, a UCLA track standout. Davenport went on to found Wandering Wheels, a faith-based group of cyclists who rode around the country, stopping to speak at churches along the way. Shinnick was drafted by the Baltimore Colts and played/coached in the NFL for the next 33 years, and finally, Johnson received the gold medal for decathlon at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome! All of these individuals held dearly to their faith throughout their careers during and after college.
Dr. Bright wrote in his book Come Help Change the World - “It may have seemed presumptuous that our first initial strategy at UCLA called for meeting with the leaders of fraternities and sororities and securing invitations to speak in their houses about spiritual matters. Yet as we planned and prayed, we felt certain that this was where God wanted us to begin - to 'influence the influencers' and, with His guidance and strength, train them to influence those around them.”
The EII Forum strategy seeks to bridge this newly-formed gap in our increasingly progressive university culture. Its purpose: to assist the local level Cru staff throughout the U.S. in reaching campus leaders by bringing highly successful business professionals together to share the gospel through the story of Christ’s work in their lives, their families, and their business successes and failures.
What are the goals of an Executive and Entrepreneurial Leadership Forum?
An EII Forum does more than just reach student leaders on your campus, though. Its goals are much farther reaching. Through this single event, we hope to open doors for each staff team to forge and solidify relationships with university faculty, expose strategic ministry partners to the work being done on campus, and provide quality student contacts for meaningful evangelistic follow-up. A complete list of the Forum’s goals are as follows:
To build a successful Forum with credibility around an invitation-only evangelistic Dinner.
To draw the top 40 non-Christian student leaders at a university to the Forum.
To provide each speaker an opportunity to share the story of Christ’s work in their lives, families, and businesses with students at the Forum Dinner, in classrooms, and with university leadership.
To position the local Cru staff team for meaningful follow-up with students.
To exhort and challenge Cru student leaders to walk with the Lord, serve him, and take the next step within the movement.
To expose successful business professionals to Cru through significant ministry opportunity, both as speakers and table hosts.
Section II: Schedule
Each EII Forum typically begins on the same day as the Cru weekly meeting to allow speakers the opportunity to participate in that event. In addition, the Forum has a twenty-four hour format to maximize the speakers’ time away from their place of business.
A sample schedule can be found below. (Note: this schedule expresses the most rigorous possible Forum program, with classroom speaking all day and an an additional half hour for both speaker follow-up with interested student leaders from the night before, as well as the brunch with student leaders in your Cru movement):
Section III: Events
Below you’ll find each different element of the EII Forum briefly explained in broad strokes.
Purpose: To speak authoritatively to the subject of the course or a related topic and to inject the Christian worldview in the process. Due to the pressures on secular faculty, we typically leave direct statements about Christ and the gospel to a question and answer period, should they come up.
Classes are typically 50 minutes in length; in this scenario, the speakers work in pairs on a 40-minute format with 15 minutes for each speaker and 10 minutes for Q & A.
Powerpoint presentations or other visual communication tools are encouraged.
Speakers will promote Cru’s weekly meeting, usually held that same night.
By and large, we ask our speakers to tailor their classroom presentations to the desires of the professor, but most of the time, we have found that these faculty just love adding a professional voice to their course content and therefore swing the door wide open in terms of content. Accordingly, some great guiding topics for speakers to address when speaking to classrooms are as follows:
How has the material you learned in the classroom influenced your work today?
Given the benefit of hindsight, what do you wish you would have known when you were in these students’ shoes?
Is there any advice you would like to impart to these students regarding their future or topic of study?
THE FORUM DINNER
Purpose: To reach our nation’s future leaders with the message of the gospel. With good planning/preparation and Lord willing, approximately 40 non-Christian student leaders will attend the Forum Dinner. They are hoping to hear of each speaker’s business experience, successes, failures and lessons learned along the way. The goal of this event is to reach these future shapers of society. In the context of their personal story, speakers should include things like: their purpose in life and business, values that provide guidance along the way, and their personal mission and vision. Each of the three presenters will have 12-15 minutes to speak, followed by 5 minutes for a Q & A session. This is an excellent opportunity for executives to share what they have learned through their profession in areas such as: decision-making, effectively influencing others, and lessons learned through successes and failures. Authenticity and vulnerability are highly valued by students and will help speakers connect with the audience. Each presenter should be prepared to personalize their story by sharing a portion of their faith journey and how it relates to life, family, and business. Referencing Scripture like Proverbs is also appropriate and perspective-giving to the group. The last speaker up will typically share how a person can have a personal relationship with the Lord. Follow-up will be conducted by the local staff team.
Format: The Dinner is structured in such as way that approximately 50 individuals will be in attendance: 30-40 students, 4-6 table hosts, 4-6 faculty, and 4-6 fellow staff/Cru student leaders. During the Dinner, each speaker will share lessons he/she has learned throughout life in his/her work with the final speaker sharing the gospel. Below is a rough sketch of what the Dinner might look like:
4:30-5:00 pm: Program meeting/prayer
5:15-5:30 pm: Reception: meet/greet students and socialize
5:30-5:35 pm: Emcee introduces event/welcome/introduce speaker #1
5:35-5:55 pm: Speaker #1 speaks, then Q & A
5:55-6:00 pm: Acknowledge table host #1
6:00-6:30 pm: Dinner, dessert and discussion around the table
6:30-6:35 pm: Transition/acknowledge table host #2/introduce speaker #2
6:35-6:55 pm: Speaker #2 speaks, then Q & A
6:55-7:00 pm: Acknowledge table host #3
7:00-7:05 pm: Introduce speaker #3
7:05-7:30 pm: Speaker #3 speaks, then Q & A
7:30-7:35 pm: Closing remarks by emcee
Purpose: To exhort students to take the next step spiritually, encourage students to attend a retreat, conference, summer project, or other upcoming event, and to influence their peers for Christ.
Format: A student emcee will facilitate an informal panel discussion amongst the three speakers. All speakers will answer several questions, with one of the speakers sharing their personal testimony and the gospel at the conclusion of the discussion.
INFORMAL SPEAKER FOLLOW-UPS
Purpose: To provide an opportunity for interested/seeking students to informally connect with the speakers one-on-one or in small groups, giving speakers opportunities to share the gospel directly/influence students positively.
Format: Speakers will be seated in a coffee shop environment, available for students who had signed up to meet with them at the Dinner to meet with them, as an open invitation will have been made during the Dinner for students to come and interact more personally with the speakers. Speakers should be prepared for a small group discussion, or perhaps with just one student, to answer any questions they may have, and ideally, to talk about their spiritual beliefs. This should be a great chance for them to use the “Four Laws” or “Knowing God Personally” booklets to clarify the gospel.
BRUNCH WITH LOCAL STAFF TEAM & CRU STUDENT LEADERS
Purpose: To encourage the local campus staff team, to share how God is working on campus with the speakers, to communicate the campus vision, and share what is needed to take the ministry to the next level.
Format: Students, staff and speakers eat and mingle with speakers dispersed amongst students at tables for maximum interaction. Once the meal is over, the brunch emcee introduces all of the staff team to the speakers and students followed by a presentation of the team's vision to reach the campus, stories of how God is working amongst them, and what the next steps are to see this vision realized. Once this is over, invite each speaker to say a few words of greeting to students and allow both sides to ask questions to each other.