Reshaping the Church

Cru: Becoming evangelizers in college

Posted August 11, 2023

by Caleb Gottry

College students across America wrestle with discovering and living out their faith in a new environment. Cru is a campus ministry and international Christian organization dedicated to faith, growth and fruitfulness for college students in this new season.

“Cru is a Christian evangelism and discipleship ministry committed to giving people everywhere the opportunity to know and experience God's love and plan for their lives,” according to their website.

Cru campus ministries, founded in 1951 on UCLA’s campus, is one of Cru’s largest programs in the US, with 2,300 locations. The campus mission reads, “Cru's campus ministry is committed to offering students and faculty a chance to know Jesus and take the gospel to the campus, community and world.”

Leo Mullarky was involved with Cru in college and now is a staff leader for Cru campus ministries in Riverside, California.

Leo Mullarky and his family. Photo by Cru

As far-reaching and expansive as Cru is, Mullarky said the focus and mission of Cru is more narrow and focused on outreach.

“I would say, if you were to use an analogy, we're a little bit like — or we try to be like — say, In-N-Out Burger,” Mullarky said. “We're not the Cheesecake Factory where you've got like 100 things on the menu. For us, we’ve got four or five things on the menu that we try to do really well.”

Of those four or five things on Cru’s menu, Mullarky emphasized three: winning, building and sending.

“Our purpose is helping to fulfill the Great Commission in the power of the Holy Spirit by winning people to faith in Jesus Christ, building them in their faith and sending them to win and build others,” states Cru’s website.

Mullarky clarified the first objective, saying, “We don't do the winning. It's just the term, so getting a win means giving them that opportunity.”

Mullary said that Cru is focused on giving students and faculty the opportunity to grow in their faith as Christians, or come to faith as non-Christians. The first goal is for students and faculty to know God personally.

On a college campus, Mullarky said Cru creates a fun, social environment.

“We do outreaches and we do socials,” Mullarky said. “The beginning of the year in the fall is generally a good time when people have a greater degree of openness, and freshmen, especially, sometimes have a greater degree of openness.”

College bound students. Photo by Cru

Like many other campus ministries, Cru understands that the first year of college is often a life-changing year, and they strive to provide a community of faith-building during that time. Mullarky said this season is often the first time in students’ lives they decide if their parents’ faith is going to become their own.

Cru emphasizes evangelism and faith sharing among students and community members. Mullarky said the goal in teaching this outreach is to make the method transferable from mentor to student.

“So, we try to use things that are transferable so that we can equip students with everything,” Mullarky said. “We want to give everything away. We want to mentor and disciple people in a way that they can take these things and put them into practice.”

In a similar way, Cru as an organization also ministers to families, high school students, military personnel and athletes, sharing the Christian faith and equipping old and new believers to share their faith.

Bible study. Photo by Cru

Cru also equips local churches to serve smaller colleges to expand their outreach.

“I think a lot of times they have the heart, they have the desire, but as a church pastor, they typically have about five or ten different jobs that they're responsible for,” Mullarky said.

One of Cru’s strengths as an organization is training leaders in evangelism, he said.

Cru staff works with the church and volunteers from the church to establish a good relationship with the university and establish Cru as a campus organization, Mullarky said.

Mullarky’s main job is to reach the students. Cru’s focus is on-campus outreach and has staff on many campuses, but he also knows the value of teaching and sending students to evangelize and teach each other.

“The best person to reach a plumber is probably another plumber and the best person to reach an engineer is probably another engineer and so the best person to reach a college student is another college student,” Mullarky said.

Cru in college can ultimately prepare a student for mission work, for which Cru is also well-equipped to manage and support, as most of Cru is outside of the US.

To learn more about Cru and their mission and ministry, visit their website.

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