Ask the Lord to use your team to show your guests the amazing things that God is doing (i.e., your racing stripes).
3-5 months out,
12-20 weeks out
"If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed."
Proverbs 29:18 (MSG)
The program is your team’s opportunity to communicate to dinner guests why you reach college students and how they can be a part of this amazing journey. While we have all been to Winter Conference and love the lights, glamour, and fast pace, remember that those conferences and events are specifically designed for college students. This dinner is for a current or potential ministry partner (See Starting Line FAQ for more about this).
As a team, take 30-60 minutes to talk through your program participants. Pray over who the Lord will have you ask for each element. Then begin challenging. You will need to have all elements confirmed by the end of Lap 6.
PLANNING YOUR PROGRAM
Use the Sample Friday Night Program and Sample Saturday Night Program to understand the flow of the evening, then make a copy of Vision Dinner Runsheet | Template to begin molding your personal schedule. Continue to use your Dinner Timeline to make sure you are on top of all elements of the program.
As you'll see, there are many elements to your dinner's program. One of the easiest ways to spot the difference between a great dinner and a mediocre one is how clearly and harmoniously the content from the stage is delivered. At a great dinner, everyone who is on stage works together to deliver one unified message. Dinners that aren't as polished tend to feature disjointed speakers who don't seem like they're on the same page. We want our guests to feel like they heard one message delivered by several people - not several messages that overlap or (even worse) contradict each other.
To help set you up for success in this area, look over the Vision Dinner | Narrative document and start to nail down the basic details for your dinner. This tool will help you identify the big picture vision for your dinner and break things down into practical goals for you and your guests. Once you're done with this conversation, you should know:
3-5 Ministry Accelerators
FINDING YOUR SPEAKING ROLES
Aside from your Main Speaker, there are at least 6 other people who will be on stage throughout the night. You'll need to begin the process early of identifying who you'll want to fill each of these roles and coaching them to makes sure their time on stage fulfills its purpose. Here are some guidelines to help you think through each speaking role and a few other program pieces that can take your program to the next level.
Purpose: Sets the tone for the entire evening and ensures seamless, timely transitions throughout the program.
For this role, you want someone who is warm, outgoing, gregarious, professional, well-spoken, loves Cru, and makes people feel good when they speak. A good storyteller, although we don’t want long stories told. The person can tell a few jokes to “warm up” the crowd - but no off-color or political jokes. It should also be made clear to this person that their job is not to entertain; it's mainly to facilitate. Try to find someone who can find the sweet spot of being funny and engaging without holding things up or taking the spotlight. The Emcee can also be a former or “exceptional” current student if they fit all of the above criteria. Show them the Emcee Notes to give them an idea of what their responsibilities will be.
Ministry Update (14 minutes)
Purpose: Introduces Cru, reports on the past year of ministry, and shares your Ministry Accelerators.
Choose the person who can best communicate your team’s vision - often times this is the Team Leader but it doesn’t have to be. Many people tasked with giving the Ministry Update will want to make it their own, which is a good thing! We want this person to be personable and charismatic, so they should be given the chance to show it! But because so much needs to be communicated, there are some basic building blocks that are the backbone to any good Ministry Update. The following uses words specific to Cru but could easily be modified for any other Christian nonprofit:
1. Who is Cru?
Explain our mission, vision, Win/Build/Send, etc.
Cast vision for your scope: how many students are you reaching, how many are involved in Cru, what ministries of Cru are represented on your team?
2. What is God Doing?
Share 3-5 highlights in ministry from the past year. These should encourage your guests as they hear about the gospel being preached, but also inform them by giving them a ground-level picture of what your day-to-day ministry looks like.
3. What is the Need?
Explain the areas of your scope where your team is still unable to fulfill Cru's vision of every student and faculty knowing someone who truly knows Christ.
4. What Could Make a Difference?
Give an overview of your team's Ministry Accelerators for the next year; the 3 or 4 areas where growth in the next school year would make the biggest difference in our attempts to spread the gospel.
Financial Appeal (first and second half)
Purpose: Takes the big picture vision given during the Ministry Update and explains the practical ways that attendees can help to accelerate the ministry. Also explains the details of giving and challenges those in attendance to invest financially.
Look for someone who is positive, uplifting, and can motivate an audience to give. This person also needs to be willing to follow the script word-for-word. Both halves need to be done by the same person as credibility must be built in the first half to ensure people’s trust in the second half (See FAQ below). Timing is critical, especially when people are filling out their giving envelopes. If you have any Development staff that live nearby, they may be able to fill this role or point you toward a couple of good options.
Because this is a role where the wording is so important, we strongly suggest that whoever does your Appeal uses some of the following examples to write their Ask.
Student Testimonies (3 minutes each)
Purpose: Gives a tangible story of how God is Winning, Building, and/or Sending within the scope of the ministry.
You'll need to find two students to each give a 3-minute testimony. Ideally, these will be students who heard the gospel, accepted Christ, experienced life change, and are now discipling others because of your local ministry. If you do not have two students that fill all these criteria, find two students who together can cover all of the above criteria. In-person testimonies are best; 3-minute video testimonies are acceptable (especially if there is a question about a person’s ability to stay on schedule or communicate their story before a live audience). Keep in mind, although it’s critical that students practice and prepare, when they speak, the audience will give them tons of grace, because people just like to hear from them. Use the Student Testimony Coaching Sheet to help your students craft a concise, meaningful testimony. Send script to Volunteer Coordinator four weeks before your event so that he/she can review it, give input, and listen to the final product at least once.
Donor Testimony (4 minutes)
Purpose: Shows attendees the positive outcomes of sacrificially giving their time and money to your organization.
Find one financial partner of your ministry to give a 4-minute testimony. Look for an individual who understands the ministry and has given consistently - they can say things about your ministry that you can’t say about yourself (i.e., they can brag about your work). This is just as important as your student testimonies. For people who are interested in giving but are unsure of your ministry, the donor testimony becomes the stamp of approval from someone outside the organization. This is preferably not a pastor, as audiences have trouble relating to their financial situation. Avoid using couples as most will not stick to the 4-minute time limit. The donor testimony shouldn’t necessarily be given by a man. Consider a woman, especially if most of your other speakers are men (see FAQ below) Use the Donor Testimony Coaching Sheet to help guide this person. Send script to Volunteer Coordinator four weeks before the event so that he/she can review it, give input and listen to the final product at least once.
In the development world, asset giving will be one of your larger gifts. It usually takes time to get to a place where people will give you stock gifts or estate gifts. If you have been doing a dinner for a few years, check out the video below, which is a ministry partner testimony discussing how he and his wife began asset giving. Click on this Sample Ministry Partner Video produced by the Great Commission Foundation, to download the full video file to use for the night of your dinner.
Ministry Video (not testimonies)
Purpose: Casts vision at a broader level of Cru for your attendees by highlighting stories at the national or even international level.
A professionally produced short video has the power to take your event to a new level in the eyes of your attendees, while also giving them a welcome break in the evening. If you are hosting a Cru Vision Dinner, there are several stock videos available for you. Click to download and/or use: 2016 Campus Ministry Video or 2017 Student Perspective Video or Ball State Video. or 2019 Every Video | LongYou may also consider having a video made specially for your event. If you are interested in doing this, contact your local Development staff. Whichever video you use must:
Be 3-5 minutes or less
Be professional in content and quality
Have professional sound quality (limited or no background noise)
No individual stories within the video should be more than 30 seconds long.
If the video is placed before the Ministry Update, it should include the “problem” or need/why (but not necessarily the answers/solution, i.e. “man on the street video” which asks simple questions about God and faith to random students on campus)
If the video is placed after First Half of the Appeal, it can present the overall picture of who you are as a ministry both locally and globally.
Any videos made must be approved by Development staff
OPTIONAL: Musician/Artistic Piece
This piece could break up the program and add a worshipful experience to the evening. A student or a connected volunteer provides one musical or artistic piece but does NOT speak. Some ideas: Special song, instrumental music during the dinner or while people are filling out the envelopes, Spoken Word, and Cardboard Testimonies. This is not to be a congregational worship time because it may make people feel uncomfortable singing publicly at the dinner. Also, asking guests to stand encourages early exit.
Opening and Closing Prayers
A great opportunity to highlight a local pastor whose church supports your local ministry. They can also be a ministry partner, alumni, or a business professional. This is a great way to honor someone from your host committee. Remind them they have a maximum of two minutes.
2016 Campus Ministry Video | Download Video
2017 Student Perspective Video by Jacob Holiday
Sample Ministry Partner Video
2019 Every Video | Long
2019 Every Video | Short
Click button on Video to download
Click button on Video to download
Click button on Video to download
Click button on Video to download
MAIL TABLE HOST PACKETS
Table Host Invitation Packets include: (10 of each piece)
By 12 weeks before your Vision Dinner you should have received all of your printed materials. Check to make sure printed materials look the way they should including consistent colors and professional look / feel. The goal is to use every piece you have printed because you will never be able to use them again!
Take time with your team to put these packets below together to give to your Table Hosts as well as sending out all materials to your personal mailing list (i.e. current campus supporters, students’ parents, alumni, staff’s ministry partners, former staff or volunteers, friends in the community, faculty advisers/ staff etc.). Be sure to hand address as many invitations as possible - people are much more likely to be intrigued by and open a hand addressed envelope than a printed one. (Note: some teams ask students to do the hand addressing and give conference scholarship money in return! This is a great way to delegate and get students involved in the process.)
Table Host Letter (1) per 9x12 envelope
3 Steps to Hosting a Table (1) per envelope
Invitation Progress Checklist (1) per envelope
10 Invitations: in their envelopes, and printed on back flap is the return
10 RSVP Cards in their response envelopes - stamps not necessary. Print the address of where the card is to be returned on the response envelope (usually the Registration Coordinator’s home).
Save the Date Postcards (5x8) Printed Front and Back
Final Reminder Postcards (5x8) Printed Front and Back
Encourage Table Hosts to hand deliver invitations to prospective guests but if they must mail invitations, they should use their own stamps and return address. Let them also know the Table Host Coordinator will be emailing and calling to help brainstorm names, letting them know when to send out each specific mailing.
Table Host Coordinator: Once Table Host Invitation Packets have been distributed, begin connecting with Table Hosts on a scheduled basis – see Table Host Coordinator Job Description
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Is the timing of the dinner really that important -- you have a lot of topics to cover and people love us?
Why is there a first and second half of an appeal? Aren’t we hammering them over the head with a need for funds?
Why is it important that the person who does the first half of the appeal also do the second?
Why do we include the faith promise content in the financial appeal?
It seems the most exciting part of the evening are the testimonies. Why don’t you eliminate the larger messages, even the main message, in favor of more testimonies?
Who should we choose as a ministry partner testimony? Consider challenging a female for this role. Check out Women Doing Well
Second and Subsequent years: don’t we need to change up the program each year to make it more exciting for your guests?