Win the campus for Christ today, win the world for Christ tomorrow.
In some sense, this slogan that Cru had its beginnings in as Campus Crusade for Christ remains true today. While our name was changed in 2013 to Cru Singapore, reaching the next generation remains a key focus of our work. What has changed though, is that our target audience has grown beyond campus.
Hence, in 2021, we re-structured our ministry into various clusters according to target audience. Specifically, the Next Gen cluster consists of:
The associate leads of the Next Gen cluster (from left): Lam Ching Yet (Healthcare ministry), Ivin Vikesh (Athletes in Action), Leong Wai Ling (Student-Led Movement) with overall cluster lead Amos Ang.
Urgency to Reach the Next Generation
Binding this group of leaders is a common belief that it is now more urgent than ever to reach the next generation. In the inaugural annual youth survey by TODAY*, 48% of the 1,066 respondents (18-34 years old) said that their identities are closely tied to their religious community. Notably, those between 18 and 24 years old were less likely to agree with this statement.
In addition, mental health issues were thrown into the media spotlight in 2021. As we take an honest look and acknowledge this current reality we are living in, it is imperative that resources be pumped in to bring God’s message of hope to the next generation.
Pivoting Online to Reach More
Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the challenges of reaching this target audience, yet provided new opportunities at the same time.
For Lam Ching Yet (Associate Lead, Healthcare ministry), time has always been an issue when it comes to meeting ministry disciples. He shares, “Their academic load is highly intensive, coupled with various hospital postings. Even when they are available, finding a common time to meet as a group is also challenging as they can have varying schedules. In addition, they are also involved in various research projects and committees.”
Due to the pandemic, meetings have been moved online. This made things easier for everyone to join in, providing necessary respite and support for our frontline workers fighting the pandemic.
Sports ministry Athletes in Action Singapore also pivoted online for the annual Ultimate Training Camp, with 20 athletes participating in the camp in 2021. In addition, the ministry partnered with marathoner Mok Ying Ren to run monthly Bible-study sessions entitled “Colossians Playbook”, a continuation of the successful run in 2020 on the book of Philippians. In this way, athletes can join in the sessions from anywhere, and encourage one another in their faith and sport.
In fact, Amos Ang (Cluster Lead, Next Gen cluster) reflects that, “Pivoting into the virtual space has given us more reach than the physical dimension.” Those who did not feel comfortable with or able to carve out time to travel to an in-person meeting, can now join a virtual gathering from wherever they are. In addition, members find it easier to commit the time to start their own groups, thus multiplying their reach.
Working Adults and the Multiplication Effect
One such member is Dr Ellie Choi, who took up the mantle to lead a group of healthcare workers in the Foundations programme after benefiting from it as a participant.
Offered by LI, Foundations is a 4-week self discovery and goal-setting programme that helps participants thrive professionally, personally and spiritually as leaders. “I was looking for a safe environment to learn and find out more about my leadership style,” Dr Choi recalls. “Through Foundations, I learnt a lot about myself and what I envision a good leader to be.”
This process where participants become facilitators means that the efforts of the ministry can be multiplied beyond the limitations of a small staff team. “We have leaders who are facilitating almost 90% of our groups,” Amos shares. In August 2021, LI also organised an online forum “Leading Into The Future”, featuring one of LI’s facilitators Henry Tan (Founder, Group CEO & Chief Innovation Officer of Nexia TS) and Bernard Lubbe (Founder, 3 Dots Consulting).
Petra and Wai Ling bonding over some bubble tea and snacks.
Tapping on Social Media
Similarly, Leong Wai Ling (Associate Lead, SLM) shares that safe distancing restrictions meant that discipleship groups and weekly ministry gatherings had to move online. With limited face-to-face contact, the ministry also had to be creative in their outreach.
For example, the polytechnic ministries encouraged their students to take time to build relationships and be intentional. They focused on doing three things: posting a ONE minute testimony of how they encountered God on social media, ONE caring conversation with a friend per day, and ONE short prayer with or for a friend per day. This strategy was easy to remember and achievable for students who were not used to sharing their faith.
In fact, social media opens doors to reach other students overseas. When borders closed due to the pandemic, Cru Singapore’s missions team launched digital mission trips. Participants utilised social media to meet new friends and trust God for opportunities to share their faith.
Petra is one such participant. “Petra had never evangelised or been on a mission trip before she joined Cru,” Wai Ling shares. “She has now been on two digital mission trips, and even mobilised her disciples to join her. Petra is now intentional in taking steps of faith to have spiritual conversations with her classmates.”
Students were not the only ones tapping on social media. Ching Yet had to blow the dust off his Instagram account as a result of COVID-19. “I re-installed the app to follow my students’ Instagram posts to journey with them, especially those who were doing their hospital postings,” he shares. “I would follow up with encouragement when they were down, or just make a comment on their post. This was my way of connecting with them and showing that I care.”
A retreat for healthcare graduates before they embark on housemanship. Senior doctors were invited to share their experiences and encouragement. (Retreat organised before safe distancing restrictions were implemented.)
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