Why High School?

Cru High School director Darryl Smith talks about the importance of high school leaders.

  • by Amber Wiley
Image courtesy of Darryl Smith

Cru’s high school ministry has been reaching high school students since 1966. Until recently, it was called Student Venture, and now is known simply as Cru.

Darryl Smith directs the ministry, and feels that today’s high school students are the “most open generation to the gospel.” Below, he gives his thoughts on Cru’s high school ministry and on teenagers as leaders.

In regards to Student Venture becoming Cru, how will the ministry benefit?

A major advantage is that it helped leverage us as a ministry to go out to the scope of 22 million teens on 69,000 middle school and high school campuses. With 200 staff and interns we cannot reach that scope but as we align and partner with collegiate Cru, that will give us the opportunity to see more laborers raised up, giving every student the opportunity to say yes to the person of Jesus Christ.

What changes have you seen among students in the past few years?

They are the least-parented generation. They are raising themselves because of the “American dream” (2 parents working, many single parent homes). There is no direction for these kids.

But they are also the most tolerant generation. For them, there is no such thing as absolute truth – they define truth based on how they feel.

Yet, I believe this is also the most open generation to the gospel. The students carry a lot of emptiness and pain. I believe this generation really wants truth. They have tried a lot of things and they are still empty.

How is Cru unique in comparison to other student ministries on campus?

We believe that teenagers are student leaders. They can lead spiritually as students. We want to multiple ourselves, college students and high schoolers as part of our critical mass. These students are not just a target audience like many student ministries. We want to win them in Christ and build them in their faith through discipleship, equipping and training them to take the gospel message to their friends. If we reach a student in 9th grade, by 11th grade we want to see them leading a Bible study, discipling classmates and teammates.

Can teenagers really be leaders?

I think we, in America, under-challenge teenagers. Then we wonder why they sometimes fall apart when they go off to college, question their faith and walk away from the Lord.

Union with God comes when we as believers take risks. Union with God comes when we come out of our comfort zone and find ourselves in those lion dens or fiery furnaces.

I think this generation of students is willing to go into these dens and furnaces.

We need to give them a solid foundation in Christ and not replace it with entertainment.

The Word of God is not entertainment.

Teenagers want something different. We need to be different, not help kids fit in to the culture, but call them to be counter-cultural.

We believe teenagers are spiritual leaders now, not tomorrow.

Why are high school students strategic?

Almost everyone goes through high school and as they leave, they enter every walk of life.

Teens are at a ripe age to share Christ with; I think teenagers are very open to the gospel.

Something like 85% of people who become believers do so before the age of 18. With that percentage, it is a harvest field that is very ripe.

When a teen gives their life Christ, they have the opportunity to have a longer relationship – more time with God and an opportunity to hide God’s Word in their heart at a young age.

In high school, nobody came to me and told me about Christ. If someone would have come to campus and presented Christ to me, I believe a lot of the choices I made in life would have come out different.

How can we be praying for students this school year?

Pray for the Christian students to be a spiritual light on their campuses. Pray for those who don’t yet know Christ, that this school year they would have an opportunity, an encounter with Jesus and be given a chance to know Christ.

Pray for all of the students. They face many, many challenges. I don’t think the average adult knows what a 14 or 15-year-old faces each day on high school campuses. It’s very different than it was in the 80s and 90s.

We pray that after 4 years, every student in that graduating class would have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.

How can parents or other volunteers get involved?

Be gatekeepers. Pray for the campus, students and volunteers. We like to see parents as what we call the “spiritual booster club” of the school.

People can volunteer by leading Bible studies, hosting Bible studies, giving rides, gathering other Christians, giving exposure and credibility, being on a Cru parent advisory-counsel.

Financially they can give, enlist others to give and help provide scholarships to kids for conferences and mission trips. Visit our website www.studentventure.com for upcoming trips.

What is a goal you are hoping for this school year?

Honestly, I’m hoping that through our partnership with collegiate ministry, we would raise up 1,000 volunteers to help launch 100 new movements in the coming years.