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Six essentials to a summer project

June 5, 2017

Several years ago I saw a commercial with Michael Jordan.

In the background was just his voice as he listed all his failures. He said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

I would say that sums up my 27 years in ministry. Any success I’ve seen in ministry is only due to many failures and God’s grace.

This past spring break I helped lead my 27th mission trip overseas. I’ve also had the pleasure of helping lead 12 stateside summer projects.

That’s a lot of opportunities to fail and for God’s grace to bring success!

From my many failures and from God’s unending grace, I’ve had the privilege of learning the ins and outs of summer projects. So, if you are planning or leading a summer project, here are six essentials that you need.


You need community—lots of community.

When planning a summer project, think of ways to help the students feel like they are part of a larger family.

One of the reasons Greek Summit—one of Cru’s summer projects for college students—is so successful every year is largely due to the students spending so much time together.

They get to see a little of what I think heaven will be like. All these people who are broken like them but feel accepted and loved.

Care (Individual discipleship)

The director of the summer project should shepherd the staff and, in turn, the staff disciple the students.

At the Greek Summit, we pair up four to six student staff with one married staff. Each of the student staff then meet with four to six students.

They meet as a group and then each leader also meets with each of his guys one-on-one to talk about the content discussed in the Bible study as well as purity and accountability.

Theological training

Your students need to know the basics.

I’ve noticed over the years that students are coming to college knowing less and less of the Bible. So we study the Word with them regularly and talk about the basics. This includes core doctrines such as salvation, assurance of salvation, identity in Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Training for a lifetime of ministry

To set students up for success for a lifetime of ministry it’s important to teach them the fundamentals.

At the Greek Summit we train every student in the following:

  • How to study the Bible
  • How to give your testimony
  • How to share your faith
  • How to lead a Bible study
  • How to follow up with a person in your Bible study or someone from a contact card
  • What it looks like to start a personal ministry in your area of influence

Developing a heart for the nations

Developing a heart to reach the nations is extremely critical for our students.

If you are considering having them read a book on the subject, I would suggest Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper. It’s my favorite book on helping develop a heart for missions.

I would take at least one full meeting to talk about the need to go to the nations. I stress that we probably will not develop a heart for a people group until we go!

Developing a plan

Before our students leave our project they have to meet with their small group leader and present a plan with three action points on how they are going to reach their area of influence.

For example, if their area of influence is a Greek chapter, then their plan might include things like sharing their testimony with the pledge class and then starting a Bible study with the pledges.

Having a plan of action for the fall before they leave the project is a key to them seeing ministry success in the fall.


Finally, understand that prayer is the foundation to all these points. You and your staff need to take regular times of prayer and even fasting for your students.