Just a place where I can journal and ramble about anything.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thoughts on Campus Outreach

So i have been doing a lot of thinking about this over the last several years and i think that a public journal is the best way to get this off of my chest. I am one of those people who did drink the punch of a ministy called campus outreach for several years. After lots of deep thought, painful learning, and frustration... i believe that i might actually be able to articulate my deepest thoughts on the issue. Before I go into all of my issues with the ministry i think that it is important that i first dialogue about some of the good things that Campus Outreach did.

Campus Outreach was a bunch of young leaders who desired to for people to walk with God. And i believe that they really did intend well. I have never thought differently. But like any para-church ministry good intentions can still have terrible consequences. Campus Outreach was really focused on sharing the gospel (which is an amazing thing and something that should be a real focus of any so called church ministry), Campus Outreach was focused on teaching people how to walk with God (another great thing), Campus Outreach (which from now on in this blog i will refer to as C.O.) desired for their to be accountability in their ministry... both with the local church and within small groups of people. Campus Outreach in wanting to teach people how to walk with God... showed and still shows people how to used different tools in their study of the bible. They place lots of emphasis on cross referance, concordance use, and the lexicon. All of these are wonderful tools when their is the appropriate respect and knowledge of how to use them. So i say all this on the front end so that it is easy to see that there is good in this ministry... but my question is at what cost?

So i am going to give the rest of this blog in more of an outline format so that facts and commentary are a little easier to see:

1. Is Campus Outreach a Cult?
a. I believe that we first have to define a cult
1. A group of people who seek out those who are in a place of vulnerability for membership
2. A group of people who create a method of advancement through achievment, expectations,
responsibilities, and demonstration of overall worth
a. which is set by the leadership, and is subject to change on certain favorites or special values
3. A group which at some point fully indoctrinates one into its fold after they have gone "far enough"
to handle the real framework and knowledge that the group wants to bestow upon them
4. A group that will remove and have nothing to do with those that after being shown the "light"
decide not to follow or advance further.
5. A group that has a history of jaded former members that actively can articulate problems back to
to that group.

So i believe that 100% C.O. meets all of these requirements. C.O. has a mission statement that is really not known until one goes on an overseas project (usually three years into the ministry). Usually at this time, C.O. knows enough about you to show the entire picture to you. They will then test you on this in your 4th year to see if you are worthy to go on staff (be a leader). So the picture that they paint is lots of the following. They do this to an extent that I personally have literature showing that this is what they believe. C.O. targets freshmen dorms, Greeks, and Athletes. Then inside that frame they specifically target leaders within these groups. They do this because you can get the most numbers if you convert someone who is "valued" as a leader, verse someone "valued" as a nobody. At this point we can already see some very large contradictions to scripture. Jesus was from a group of very marganlized people, who weren't seen at the time as a very powerful force (the Romans at the time had much more difficult nationalities to control). Jesus selected uneducated people who were not considered to be "valued" by societie. If Jesus followed the C.O. method than He would have chosen pharisee's, saducees, and wealthy business owners with many workers. Not tax collectors, fishermen, and young men.

Next C.O. chose freshmen for the specific purpose that they were on their own... figuring life out for the first time (therefor easy to manipulate). When i say that they targeted freshman dorms... this is an understatement. It was a major achievement to see how many freshmen one could get to become membership. It was like a screwed up pyramid scheme.

After people were recruited they were put into discipleship groups (nothing wrong with discipleship till you use this model). The people who lead these groups were people who were usually second year C.O. and had grasped the first years learnings. Now understand that this was a ministry made up of people who on leadership were of the average age of 25-26. These people were leading 18-21 year olds and purposefully placed themselves in extreme leadership roles. If you did not respect these roles and see these people as the leader that they were... then you would be extracated quickly... they might let you go through year one of training over and over again, but you would never go farther. C.O. would also use pressure and air lifted scriptures (scripture just air lifted for guilt purpose) to convince people that they were in sin if you didnt go to the sacred camps (summer beach projects and Christmas conferences). Every year i heard staff people explain that nobody else could give the training that C.O. could, and that since that was a fact, that if you didnt go... then you were in sin. I can give dates, times, who gave the talk, and even what room on the campus it was said in. I have been an avid journaler for years and i look back on that stuff and said things like... "God __________ really brought your Word to life tonight by explaining how people could get no better training than at beach project/Christmas conference, and even explained how they were in sin if they didnt." Well i am here to tell you that if you were a devoted member of your local church for a summer, then you were better off probably than C.O. . What kind of pride does it take to say things like that?

Next... now you got to drink a little more punch every year that you were in the ministry until you got to your third year. At this point you were probably discipling several people yourself (which now that i am a little older, can say that what we were really all doing was feeding people the same shit that we had been fed, and hoping that they believed it... because if they didnt than it left us insecure.... but if they did, than we felt justified and right in our heads). Now they would make sure you were out of the country on a mission trip before they brought everything to life for you. Now when you are in another country... where you are supposed to be sharing the gospel and changing the nations for God (and all the other rhetoric)... we would spend the first 5 hours of every day in "training" and that was their word for it... not mine. It was during these daily sessions that the total idea of the ministry was unfolded for you. It was here that the idea of targeting popular people, and targeting freshmen was brought to fruition. It was here that you saw that it was about a numbers game. We litterally had diagrams of how all the small fish swim next to the big ones... so if were going to be working for God then we have to go after the really big fish so we can get all of the smaller ones. Anyone seeing a pattern here???

Now in the fourth year they wanted to see you take this information and lead the campus as an aide to the staff. Here is where you real worth was proven. Did you drink enough to really put the time and energy in to making your campus a place where staff was kissing popular peoples ass (literally) and getting everyone who wasnt "cool" to follow since the "cool" people went. Now at the end of your fourth year you were supposed to lead the Beach Project. It was here that staff would leave you for 6 weeks and let you as a senior organizational member run the project. The project usually had 6 leaders and 1 head.

My next part will answer the problem of jaded members (of which there are many, navigators and campus crusade have the same problem, just not as extreme) and will show the damage that some of this does.

You must understand that to be on "staff" it means you graduated from the 4 year plan of C.O. yet if you have noticed there is no theology classes, there is no real requirement for being involved in a church (and they will say there is but that is shit, i caught hell for being to active in my church and not enough in the campus ministry, also there are many former staff and team leaders who have horror stories of being young and not knowing what to do when real life issues with 18-21 yr olds came up, and they talk of being absolutley stranded). So its like the blind leading the blind. One of the most damaging things that happens... is that people who are really adapt and into study of the bible... will be totally screwed by the method of study that C.O. recommends. First off their are a group of pastors who are idolized by C.O. (when i say idolized they are quoted more than scripture... literally) i sat through many talks where John Piper, John McArthur, Tim Keller, and the pastor from Briarwood Pres (Harry Reeder) (where C.O. was founded) were quoted more than scripture. Notice none of these men are theologians, none of these men have opinions that have changed academic thought, all are reformed, and only one of them can actually defend reformed theology in debate (Tim Keller, look at debates if you dont believe me). Also Piper and McArthur write books like they are theologians... when all they do is regurgitate the ideas of C.S. Lewis blended with Edwards and through a little legalism and dispensationalism in and you have the extent of their knowledge. Both men are quoted as saying Covenant Theology is worth churches dividing over (by the way would C.S. lewis and Edwards ever want their ideas blended with the other?). *Last little point on the pastoral exaltation issue would be that you will be failed in any major seminary in the country if you refer to either of these men as theologians*. I say all this to bring up the point of how people who really study and want real answers are done a diservice by givng them the tools that they are given without better knowledge before hand.

The bible for 1500 years was read by community. Thank God that we have the bible in a language that the lay person can read. The problem is that when the uneducated lead the uneducated... you get the idea that all we need to have to interpret the bible.... is the bible... you get this position because you can teach the lexicon, concordance and the cross reference in a matter of weeks/months. But for you to be able to teach the history, culture, themes of the bible, overall narratives of the bible, and humility to understand what major theologians have come to the conclusion of (the idea of respecting where we as a church ((catholics included C.O.)) then we are in a very dangerous place in saying now you can interpret everything. Litterally if the pastoral names i gave you dont show a lack of depth, (almost all of these men think they can tell you what the real, true definition of every verse in the bible is). Which is crazy because thats like telling all painters to put down their brushes because you have perfected art. This messes people up and jades them because at the end it cant make sense if you just have those tools. If you have those tools, then you come to the fact that predestination has to be true... but what about the fact that if it is... then God had to ordain sin (sorry no way around it... and the whole Perfect will vrs Desired will argument is shit.... show me where in scripture... more than one or two air lifted places... and show me why in debate when Piper uses it, it looks like his copout for getting himself out of every jam that serious theologians box him into). Now if you give me history, themes, some humility to accept that its a gray area, and the real narrative that the bible is ( because in C.O. the bible becomes your science homework and loses the aspect of "narrative") then i can actually come to somewhat of a confident place where predestination might be true. My last point on C.O. as i have now rambled for God only knows how long... is to say this.... i have seen people come off of staff at C.O., Navigators, and Campus Crusade... so burnt out by the shit they were fed... that they look at people and say... i dont know what i believe... i want to be a Christian, I love Jesus, but if anyone else uses me as a ministry tool to teach others some plan... than i am done with the faith. Those are powerul words.... so here was my first rambling.... i am sure i vomited and offended all... but if were not real in expressing our feelings and what we believe is truth... what else do we have... in humility and willing to be shown the light if i am wrong.....
--Hillsmurf

161 comments:

  1. You took the words right out of my mouth! I was recruited to go on a trip to South Africa with CO. Initially I committed to go, but deep down I knew this endeavor was not right for me. When I expressed reluctance to my discipler I was told that I was just confused and the conversation ended with me being given advice on how to more 'effectively' raise the monies needed for the journey. My best memory of college was when I officially withdrew from the team/trip. The consequence was that all the people who were my 'friends' in C.O. would no longer speak to me. The good news is that I enjoyed my senior year without having a half-wit discipler looking over my shoulder.

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  2. I have no idea who you are, but you're describing the exact same situation I faced during my time in college (about 7 years ago now). I drank all the C.O. Kool-aid, too, and I've been looking on and off for other people in the same situation ever since. I just wanted to say that I completely understand, and you are not alone (although it sounds like you know that!).

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  3. So true. I love God. I appreciate opportunities that He alone used CO for- bringing me along in my maturation in Christ-but He is still the only sovereign one, HOLY HOLY HOLY is he-all others are mere Idols.

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  4. I believe that you are entitled to your opinion. I believe that people make mistakes (we ALL sin). It is very possible that you and others have had a bad experience with CO. However, you are grouping the ministry and all their leaders and everyones intentions to fit what happened to you specifically. Forgetting that we ALL SIN...Including the people who are on staff with CO. You are ripping down all the good that they do because of their sin. They are speaking the word of God. As you pointed out they are speaking the gospel. "The Gospel is the power of salvation".

    Think of all the people who have come to know the Lord through this ministry...and ones like them. And how many people came to know the Lord from those people and so on. If you believe God is sovereign than you would also know that all things are for the GOOD of His children. So instead of "air lifting" scripture just like you accuse them of doing to prove your point, you should put your energy into making a difference in the lives of those around you. Use your knowledge to help others understand the LORD and his plan more.

    All said...I am sorry you had a bad experience with CO. But I can truly say that although they sinned and this hurt you it does not mean that they are not making a huge impact on the world and for the LORD.

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    1. Amen! I think this is a dead on summary of the situation. No ministry is perfect as imperfect people work in these ministries. The point is don't throw the baby out with the bath water. I came to Christ through CO ministry and yes CO does have some negative aspects, but overall it is excellent in presenting the gospel and God is using that ministry.

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    2. I disagree. I was on Beach Project 1986. We were told that we were being discipled to be 'leaders' for Christ. All summer I knew something was wrong because people started bossing each other around and behaved in a very prideful arrogant way. The leaders actually acknowledged the pride but explained it as acceptable if people were getting saved. After returning to JSU in the fall, I was reading God's Word and ran accross Matthew 23:10 where Jesus says "Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ" NASB. Yet, "leadership" was the focus of CO and beach project. I know it seems like a small disobedience, but I was miserable the whole summer and thought that I was the problem. Actually, CO was the problem and I am so glad I left that ministry. Over 25 years later, I conduct bible studies with high schoolers at my church; no thanks to Campus Outreach.

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    3. You are also disguising here a Campus Outreach from almost 20 years ago with no regards to the fact that time and development can change and improve the state of a ministry.

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    4. Yep and being ARROGANT for God is the sales pitch and was acted out by the ego-nut leader of the operation in 1986. His attitude was being a jerk and THEN using God as his excuse for being a jerk. Not a Godly man at all--just a complete fraud; just a fast talking sales guy using God and canned scripts to impress young people that didn't know much due to being only 18-20 years old. Whole operation is built on hard sales techniques for recruiting the gullible to volunteer and hand over cash

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    5. I never thought I would reply to anything like this. I too was on the 1986 Beach Project (west end), there was also one on the east end and I believe JSU was on the east side. We never had any experiences like that. Sure there was pride and there were college age students doing stupid things that college age students do... still it was a wonderful experience of discipleship, which I can still model today. It was a wonderfully intense environment of evangelism and worship. From the group I went through college with at the University of Montevallo, there are at least 12 people in full time ministry overseas and more in full time ministry here in the states. I was on the leadership team on campus and I wanted to go full-time on staff out of college. Our campus director worked and prayed through it with me and we came to the conclusion that I should go in a different direction. No pressure at all. The issue that I had with Campus Outreach is that for some it was too much of a protected, green house environment. For Anonymous who responded on September 2, 2015. The leader he is talking about was very "confident," but he loved the Lord and still does to this day. The part about recruiting the gullible to volunteer and hand over cash, I can't even imagine what to say. There was never any pressure to give, ever at all, period. I never heard anyone from any campus express this, and have not heard this from anyone since then.

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  5. Everything you just said decsribes what Campus Outreach is doing at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. I had suspicions about C.O. being a cult but this and several other articles confirmed my beliefs. Do you have any recomendations of actions to take to help those involved get out?

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    2. upto I saw the paycheck ov $5973, I didnt believe ...that...my sister woz like they say truly receiving money in there spare time at there computar.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this less than nineteen months and resently cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bought a new Citroën DS. we looked here, >>>>>>>>>>> Fab27.com

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    3. upto I saw the paycheck ov $5973, I didnt believe ...that...my sister woz like they say truly receiving money in there spare time at there computar.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this less than nineteen months and resently cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bought a new Citroën DS. we looked here, >>>>>>>>>>> Fab27.com

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    4. upto I saw the paycheck ov $5973, I didnt believe ...that...my sister woz like they say truly receiving money in there spare time at there computar.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this less than nineteen months and resently cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bought a new Citroën DS. we looked here, >>>>>>>>>>> Fab27.com

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    5. upto I saw the paycheck ov $5973, I didnt believe ...that...my sister woz like they say truly receiving money in there spare time at there computar.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this less than nineteen months and resently cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bought a new Citroën DS. we looked here, >>>>>>>>>>> Fab27.com

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    6. upto I saw the paycheck ov $5973, I didnt believe ...that...my sister woz like they say truly receiving money in there spare time at there computar.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this less than nineteen months and resently cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bought a new Citroën DS. we looked here, >>>>>>>>>>> Fab27.com

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    7. upto I saw the paycheck ov $5973, I didnt believe ...that...my sister woz like they say truly receiving money in there spare time at there computar.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this less than nineteen months and resently cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bought a new Citroën DS. we looked here, >>>>>>>>>>> Fab27.com

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    8. upto I saw the paycheck ov $5973, I didnt believe ...that...my sister woz like they say truly receiving money in there spare time at there computar.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this less than nineteen months and resently cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bought a new Citroën DS. we looked here, >>>>>>>>>>> Fab27.com

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    9. upto I saw the paycheck ov $5973, I didnt believe ...that...my sister woz like they say truly receiving money in there spare time at there computar.. there aunts neighbour had bean doing this less than nineteen months and resently cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bought a new Citroën DS. we looked here, >>>>>>>>>>> Fab27.com

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  6. Interesting ^^^ you used articles to confirm your beliefs of how ministry and evangelism should be properly handled? I thought we should look to Jesus and Paul to determine the best ways to do ministry - am I wrong? This article was poorly written (no offense) based on emotion and feeling instead of the truth of the commandments of Jesus Christ. You never really established where scripture condemns the way CO conducts its ministry. How quickly we forget that Jesus said "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." Sadly, I feel that there was rejection of accountability (completely biblical) and rejection of spiritual leadership. This ministry seeks to build spiritual leaders now, not just more cultural christians who merely plant themselves on the front pew on Sunday's and don't embrace scripture like Isaiah 58:4-12.

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  7. Thank you for your post! I could not have described CO better myself. I have just recently come to the realization that I have been majorly hurt by this organization. Yes, they taught me great things, foundational things to my walk with Christ; however, there are things I learned in CO that I am still grappling with 6 years removed. Thank you for your honestly and authenticity!

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  8. I had the same exact experience at Berry College back in the mid/late 90s. I was in a stall in a restroom during the 1st week of school one year and overheard a 3rd year student going over the list of freshman halls and individual names and who they were going to corner literally. I was cornered in my room one and and was told that by choosing to not attend Beach Project i was sinning and that there was no place on else where my relationship with Christ could grow like at the Beach project. When I stated that I believed God to grow me anywhere he chose, I was told i was disobedient. They also told me that it was likely my parents were not Christians....this girl had never even met my parents who are some of the most serving people I've ever met.
    RUN, Now! if you can't run, at least sit back and watch and pay attention to what's going on and the corrupt nature of the organization.

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  9. my neighbor who just started college is getting involved in this ministry. His Grandparents told me they are concerned b/c he is basically going to be gone during the summer and working with this group but can't have any outside world contact during his time at the ministry. Any suggestions as to what to tell him or how his Grandparents should start the conversation?

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    1. I am writing this comment from my cell phone while on SLP. It's a shame they don't let me talk to the outside world.

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  10. OMG I am going through everything yall are talking about RIGHT NOW.. it has started to freak me out so I have backed off from the ministry and I am getting text messages all throughout the day saying people are praying for me..12 campus outreach people gathered together to pray for me one night which totally freaked me out, people are writing "I will pray for you" notes on my car will im in class...I dont know how much more of this I can honestly take

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  11. What are these Campus Outreach people thinking??? Going around the college campus sharing the life changing truth of the Gospel.. Then they are as bold as to go train up those new believers to understand God's word and share the faith as well!! Sigh.. When will they just chill out and understand that there is a wide path and wide gate you can go through instead of the narrow one.. (Matt 7:13-14)

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    1. HaaaHHH ahaaah. I can tell you're from CO just by your self-righteous condemning mockery and sarcasm! It was always so typical, you snakes. You probably couldn't talk straight if you tried. Trying to mock nay-sayers of CO doesn't make you right. It makes you look more like Scientologists. LOL. I was in C.O. for 4 years. I was one of those "popular" people and I was brought in by flattery, kept by condemnation. My first Beach project showed me we were being outright abused. They had local business owners lined up to "mass employ" 400 kids. I'll never forget the strange glee those employers had in their faces when we were down there. They had been saving all their dirty work for the low-cost (5.75/hr) college kid herds that CO would bring down there. We were cramped 10 guys to a bunk bedded flea infested hotel (literally, many girls had them all summer). I sought the Lord privately that summer and the more Joy I found in Him, the more hatred the leaders had for me. I became the aroma of death to most, but the aroma of Christ to a few. I was accused of trying to take over my room. I was interrogated on multiple occasions. I was accused as a trouble maker for not memorizing the witnessing script. I would walk and pray and God would always give me words and opportunities to tell the Gospel, but they hated me for not conforming to their scripts. I was denied the freedom to choose the church I would attend. I saw the Devil and his seed that summer...he can whoop up on me, but he can't stand before the Spirit of Christ in me! The gates of hell won't prevail against the saints, and most people I knew in C.O were those very gates. Hardest time of my life, that summer, but what I got from Jesus was worth it all (Luke 10:19) And thanks to the fiery trial CO gave me, I have an eternal weight of glory stored up in heaven.

      P.S. Jesus Christ is the narrow Way, not C.O.

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    2. Amen Frankie. That's exactly what I experienced at beach project 1986. A yuppy group of self righteous hipocrites. Curtis Tanner is the most arrogant self righteous manipulator. That summer, Mike Heron was in charge of beach project. He decided that some of the girls needed to be taught a lesson because they were complaining about the way they were treated. So, Mike hatched a plan to throw them into the swimming pool. I told him he was making a mistake because the arguing would get out of hand. He looked at me and said you don't have to participate if you don't want to. In other words, Mike Heron did not care if a huge fight erupted at a so called "Christian" summer project

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    3. Mike Heron and Curtis Tanner were both very self righteous, arrogant jerks in a lot more ways than is being stated above. Both were known for intimidating others routinely for submitting to their orders and talking people out of money while fabricating false needs for funds.

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    4. Nicely put. Ockham's razor. Don't look for an extravagant answer like "they're a cult" when a banal one like "they're stupid and I was gullible" adequately explains the data.

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  12. Having a sour experience with CO myself, I can resonate with some of what you said.

    However, you basic thesis of CO being a cult is unfounded. Your list a number of characteristics of cults, but your definition falls short. Many protestant churches do those same things you listed. They aren't cults, just poorly run churches with very good motives.

    A cult (in this context) is best defined as a group who pervert those beliefs that are at the heart of our faith. Some of those would be the nature of God, the deity of Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit, the authority and authenticity of Scripture, etc. These aren't just beliefs that a Christian may choose to believe or not; these beliefs are essential to our faith, and without them we have no real faith. Take for instance the Mormons or Jehovah Witness, and run down that short list I gave you. They pervert those basic, foundational beliefs through the stratosphere. CO does not - quite the contrary. CO's teaching is based on Scripture and much of how they run their show is related to things dealing directly with Scripture.

    Yes, there are some wild misuses of certain passages, but we all eisegete from time to time. That isn't to excuse them, but simply to say that their motive is to base their practice from Scripture, they just miss the mark sometimes.

    I was very hurt by the ministry of CO. I am 12+ years removed from my situation and will (Lord willing) be ordained this fall as a minister in the PCA. Looking back, there are many ways I can say that I was indeed wronged. However, much of the hurt and agony I experience from my time and my "getting out" was from my own sin and crap. I didn't need help feeling miserable.

    With all of that, it is irresponsible to call CO a cult. Christ's name is going out and new students all over (so what if they are popular and freshmen) are calling upon his name to be saved.

    I decided to put my name here, as I see no one else did. Please contact me if you have questions.

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    1. Very well said Mike! I think that nails it. I agree, so what if some students are popular and others aren't - it doesn't matter we are all the same and all in need of the truth of the Gospel and the love and forgiveness offered in Jesus.

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    2. Hey Mike I am a freshman that has gotten involved with CO this year and I have been given several opportunities to work with local churches in my home town. However I have also been given the opportunity to go to orlando. You seem to have a lot of experience with CO and I am trying to decide the best way to spend my summer. If you have time could you email me what you would have done if you had a chance to do it all over again, based on your experiences with CO. my email is hsepolevaulter@aol.com
      thanks for any help.

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  13. Hey Guys,

    As to whether CO is a cult, I do not know enough about the organization to say. It does seem that the "definition" of a cult given in this post is somewhat "tailored" to fit what the blogger already knew to be true about CO. And, of course, I agree with Mike's comment that a cult perverts fundamental tenets of faith. So it may be that nobody can justly prove CO to be a cult.

    Yet I must ask whether, in practice, CO has the tendency to act as a cult. That is to say, if leaders & staff persons in CO effectively equate successful completion of their program(s) with sanctification, have they perverted a fundamental tenet of the faith? If they effectively equate one's abortion of CO program(s) with spiritual apostacy, have they perverted a fundamental tenet of the faith? I would say that the answer to these questions is "yes."

    But the question remains as to whether CO has acted in this way. The testamonies of this post and its responses seem to answer in the affirmative. Yet I would guess that there is nothing in official CO publication that says "successful completion of program(s) = sanctification" or "abortion of program(s) = apostacy." I would guess, but I don't know.

    Likely, what you have is young, immature "leaders" (huhumm... James 3) who (to one degree or another) lead the students under their care into adopting the above equations. I would hope the Grand Poobah of CO (whoever that is) would be appalled by these equations. I would hope, but I don't know.

    Those who have basically (but not uncritically) defended CO in the above replies have done so from the standpoint of CO's desire and fundamental practice of spreading the gospel and training young Christian leaders. Amen, praise God! But those who have been basically critical of CO have done so from the standpoint of the way in which CO has gone about conducting those practices. My question is this - when we stand before the Lord of Glory, what will be his concern? What we did, why/how we did it, or both? I believe this post contains sound warning for anyone seeking to lead in ministry. Please remain in life-long prayerful consideration of your actions and your motivation for those actions, seeking to take every thought captive to obey Christ. Solo Deo Gloria!

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  14. I experienced CO in the mid 80's and I went on two beach projects and one over seas trip.

    Yes, CO has a strategy on every campus and the strategy is to win souls for Christ. CO is organized, methodical and effective in accomplishing their stated objective, which is to win people to Christ.

    I am glad CO's strategy worked on me, because I truly would not have accepted Christ in my life without the organized and methodical way I was recruited.

    The world pressures people everyday to do drugs and to live a sinful life. What is wrong with a church organization being deliberate about winning souls and training souls for Christ.

    I cherrish the training and foundation I received through Campus Outreach and I thank God for it.

    I pray that all Christians have the opportunity to receive real foundational training like I received in CO.

    I have worked in ministry since graduating from CO and I have not seen a more effective way to establish a foundation in young believers.

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  15. I'm sorry brother. You've expressed some real and legitimate hurts. Where legalism or a failure to love or whatever other serious errors are present within CO they need to be weeded out as a matter of urgency.
    I expect and hope that none of us who love and belong to Jesus want to be attached either to a cult or an organization that is causing hurt to precious people and dishonour to Christ.
    So why am I committed to Campus Outreach?
    Because I think the vision and values are great. The fact that these are lost in practice at times and in places (doubtless also by me too many times to recall, to people's hurt) doesn’t change my commitment. In the same way, more generally, I’m committed to Christ's Church - its expression in the world is far from perfect; Christ’s teachings are misapplied and neglected all over the place. Yet, I won’t be bailing out on the Church because some people within it (myself included) get it wrong.
    I'm thankful for the grace of Jesus! May CO learn from these mistakes.
    Let’s all of us be about making sure we do all we can to be a part of the solution: to humbly promote what it Christ-honouring and right (in CO and in all God's Church), and graciously contend against what isn’t.

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    1. I think the problem is that CO is NOT the church and therefore should NOT have so much power and influence in students' lives. Students are often more committed to CO than their church and are baptized on the beach apart from the local churches thus undermining the work of the local church. It's not wrong that they are out there sharing the gospel but bibilically a new believer should be brought into the care of a local church NOT primarily campus outreach. But how can campus outreach continue to recruit more staff people if they "lose them" to the local churches? What are they really trying to build up? Laborers for Christ in his church or laborers for campus outreach?

      I've been deeply convicted about this because the people I've lead to Christ in CO are more committed to CO than I think they should be and often are motivated to do what they do so that they will gain leadership positions. It's all sad and a lot of people get hurt when they don't "measure up" and don't get selected as leaders.

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  16. That was an insightful post. I have been on staff with Campus Outreach for a number of years now (not without a few regrets), and I believe that there is a lot we (as a ministry) can learn from your thoughts and "ramblings." I know that, when providing opportunities for young leaders to grow, we always run the risk of legalism, idolatry, and a misapplication of our vision/strategy (which, by the way, each of our local churches affirm, encourage, support, and empower) due to immaturity.
    I hope that you posted your thoughts out of a deep concern for the Church and not purely derived from bitterness.
    I'd only ask that you (with your apparently not isolated insight) would help us grow as a ministry rather than tear us (brothers and sisters in Christ who are deeply concerned for God's glory extending to the nations) down.
    Please feel free to contact me with any of your concerns or feedback.

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  17. I have blessed by God using the CO ministry in South Carolina to impact my life and lead me to Christ. It's great the Charleston chapter has a D.C. internship for juniors and seniors and summer beach and cross cultural projects, but CO needs to work more on preparing students for life after college, including their walk with God beyond CO. 2nd, I think CO's credibility is hurt since not all staff are ordained. 3rd, I am concerned that CO staff are selling themselves short by not hiring seminary graduates who want to come on staff with CO. When you have seminary grads who are on staff, then the credibility starts to recover. That's just me.

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  18. Might I add that C.O. is VERY anti-Catholic. They cornered me and basically told me that everything I've ever believed was a lie and that there comes a time in my life where I need to decide what really was the truth and what wasn't. They even have a list of Catholics that they pray for, and they specifically target Catholics that don't know much about WHY their beliefs are the way they are. They then write on a napkin "Faith = Salvation + Good Works" and start throwing Bible verses at you left and right, trying to get you to question what you've always believed your entire life. Shepherding people to Christ is one thing, but sheep-stealing is another. LEAVE THE CATHOLICS ALONE.

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  19. These accusations are certainly very alarming. My understanding is that Campus Outreach is not a para-church ministry, but actually a group of members & missionaries of a particular church in their particular region. If these accusations (being a cult, showing favoritism, etc.) are indeed true, have you attempted the process of church discipline? If so, what was the result? How did the CO staff respond? If they didn't repent, how did the elders and other pastoral staff handle the situation? Did they eventually repent? If you bypassed reconciliation & repentance as provided in church discipline, why? I think if the problems you mentioned above are legitimate, church discipline would be a helpful and necessary way towards healing and forgiveness. Otherwise, you run the risk of not only belittling the staff involved, but also the church that adopted them as their own.

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  20. This is pretty scary to read. I certainly see elements of your comments and concerns being very true in my own life. I came to Christ my first semester in college with some involvement from the CO staff befriending me/explaining the gospel to me in a loving way. I am involved with CO currently and they have seen my development as a Christian and have helped me find my identity in the person of Christ. I actually just came back from the winter conference and that really got me fired up for the next semester and for Jesus. Please do not misconstrue my intentions of writing this: I could not be more grateful that God has put these faithful laborers whose sole purpose is to glorify God with their lives, but I cannot deny that they slowly and methodically seem to apply pressure on their members to form a certain mold. Of course they can provide volumes of verses that back up their methodology, but my parents and some other people in my life have expressed deep concern for me and the changes that have occurred in my life. I have shared the gospel in the format that CO has helped teach me to do it to these people and they say that it, "it seems like an impressionable young man has been indoctrinated into a group of people that have a specific purpose for him". I know that God has put these people into my life to help me live out my faith, but the intensity with which they want to be involved in my life is alarming. I know that they have the best of intentions and I cannot deny the love they have showed towards me in response to the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but I can see that they are definitely hinting towards a judgmental attitude of, "our way is The Christian Way and all other ways are false". While yes Christ said that he was bringing not peace but a sword I think he meant that within the context of individual family homes when believers start to feel a tension with their family members about their beliefs. I do not think that Christ meant for this division to be between the church.
    It just seems like they attract people with a message of ultimate love and finding life in the person of Christ and then when they suck you into their organization the life they try to mold you into is a very judgmental and self-righteous one (even though they preach really hard against that).
    I'm going to talk with the people who are discipling me currently and see how they respond I just ask for your prayers that I will really see God's will in this and not my own.

    Peace in your hearts and love on your minds to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

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    1. So.... I know its been about 2 years lol but im interested.. how did they respond?

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    2. That's the point------indoctrination into a weird sales force set up fo milking donors for cash and the "leaders" getting lots of attention and barking orders and controlling their little band of folks that were brainwashed or guilted into hanging on every word some "leader" said. The judgmental stuff is just a twist on simple dominance of others. Control and dominance---dictate to others a few poorly educated saps opinion of God and run with it hoping people will hand over cash to help grow this nonsense.

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    3. So perfectly said above..."a slow indoctrination into a group of people that have a specific purpose for your life...and within their organization". There is an answer for everything (and the scriptures they choose to back themselves up). You must attend their church (really?), no room for individual thought and critical thinking, isolation from the family in the name of "winning souls to the ends of the earth". The higher-ups speak in an elitist, narrow minded way to young kids who begin to feel that there is only one way to serve God, and it is through CO. This is a very slow and methodical way (by the CO handbook which I have read) of bringing souls to Jesus, yes, but having the arrogant judgement that their way is the only way. God gave us all an individuality, our own mind and our own purpose in serving Him. CO slowly tears this away so that you think that by serving with them, you are serving Him.

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  21. Anonymous from January 5th, I hope that it went well. Follow the Lord, not man.

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  22. The men at my CO have tried to be very 'persuasive' in their argument for me to come to beach project. I am attending a study abroad trip to europe and the guys in CO have told me that it is a mistake to go to europe and that I should instead go to summer beach project. I have recently started dating the girl of my dreams and we are both involved in CO. She has been hassled by the women of CO for not going on summer beach project when instead she is going on the same study abroad trip as me. The CO guys have a house not far from the school and before dating my new girlfriend, I would visit the house and just chill there a lot of the time. Since I now am dating this girl i have spent less time at the CO guys house and they have been making comments about how i have abandoned them and that they haven't seen me in forever. I answer with a simple "whatever" and go about my daily business. Also some of the CO guys have accused me of going over to europe and then losing my way with Christ while I will be over there. Saying that I will succumb to temptation and sleep with my girlfriend. I know this is not how CO should act and I can't do anything about it because all they do is throw scripture at me and try to make me feel bad that i am not going to summer beach project. I have even started skipping discipleship groups and bible studies because of the leaders in my group making me feel like crap. Please I need someone to help me. I cant stop them from doing this and there have been numerous times when I have noticed them trying to hurt or manipulate my relationship with my girlfriend.

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  23. Just read your post and would just like to leave anyone reading it with something not written from Campus Outreach, but from the bible. People in biblical times thought JESUS was the leader of a cult. Watch out, Satan is very real and would love no more than to get people bitter and hateful towards other Christians.

    2 Corinthians 4:1-6:
    "Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ."

    DON'T BE DECEIVED, CO ONLY EXISTS TO MAKE GREAT THE WORK OF JESUS. THEY CLAIM THIS PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE.

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    1. Nope; this is off base! Human ego is behind this organization, not some silly idea that Satan is trying to destroy them IF one exposes this group for what they are----a poorly run solicitation operation that uses God as as bait. Sad that this is the case but it's true. Mention God and logical defenses melt away and snake oil sales guys can suck people in.

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  24. I I became a Christian thanks to the encouragement that Campus outreach does for students to share their faith. Praise God that there are organizations out there, such as, Campus outreach that don't try to sugar-coat Christianity. It's offensive to people because.... they preach straight truth. God's word is used and followed by this organization and that turns away people.

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  25. I wish I could personally speak to you regarding your experience. My nephew is in his Freshman Year and has been pulled in to this group so much so he isn't the same boy that left here months ago. It's truly amazing how a group of people can entice vulnerable kids so quickly and worse yet the kids don't see what's happening to them. His whole life is revolved around reading the bible, and oh he has been manipulated to believe that building a relationship with God is what he should be concentrating on, and he was told that he should think twice about having a relationship with his girlfriend. His girlfriend would prevent him from seeing the light of God. What kind of crap is that?

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  26. As someone who has been a student in the ministry for 4 years, I can say it was really good BUT really bad.

    CO is awesome at teaching discipleship, evangelism, how to really get into God's Word and study it. There really is no other ministry that I know of that is quite like CO in training us how to be equipped and to discern God's Word. I learned a lot and God used a girl in CO to be the vessel that He would save me through. I am so eternally thankful for that.

    There seems to be a big problem with legalism. It's a trap that just about everyone falls into and lately the staff on our partiular campus seem to be the culprit from what I've seen. They say you have to do this, be here, go there, attend every function, etc. or you aren't using your time wisely, you are being lazy, you aren't putting God first, or I can't discple you anymore.

    Have you ever noticed that the only people that are asked to serve in the ministry, be leaders at summer projects, and go on cross cultural projects are people that are personally being discipled by staff members and are cookie cutter C.O. christians? The ones who perform really well and have a check on every requirement.

    You know something is wrong --True Story-- when the staff members who disciple some older college students tell them what younger students they are going to be leading and what they have to study with those younger students. They don't even get to think for themselves!

    I finally walked away from the ministry--but not the Body or the church--and I started owning my own walk with God. I started praying through my own convictions, choosing what I wanted to study in God's Word and what I wanted to lead other women through. I seek counsel before making big decisions (as is Biblical) but I do not let someone dictate my every choice. I am plugged into the Church, still discpling women, still in God's Word daily. I have learned that IT IS OKAY if I get in the Word on my lunch break one day instead of having to wake up at 4:30am. I learned it is OKAY to take a nap once in a while if I am exhausted. I learned that it is OKAY to let the girls that I am leading think for themselves and make mistakes once in awhile.

    I have found so much freedom in Christ and truly began to love others; to not see them as a project, but to see them as Christ would.

    I think that Campus Outreach can be a great tool for ministry, but remember---it is just that. It is a tool for you to use in your life as you minister to others; you are not to be owned by it. It is not Christ. It is not perfect. It is not the highest authority. Know the pure Biblical freedom in Christ and love one another.

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    1. I think you summed it up very well. It is all about Jesus, not an organization, cookie cutter methodology etc. God Bless!

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  27. HELP!!!!

    I have a good friend whose daughter has just graduated from college and has signed on for a two year mission trip to Malaysia. My friend is worried sick to say the least..... She has tried her best to talk her daughter out of this trip but to no avail....

    Does anyone have any ideas on how my friend can reach her daughter?

    As we know Malaysia is an extremely dangerous place for anyone, let alone a blonde haired, blue eyed, Christian girl. What kind of ministry would send a twenty one year old girl into an environment like that???

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  28. Her daughter has never wanted to do anything other than go into missions since I met her and Campus outreach isn't not even who she is going with. Stop trying to twist The lords plan for this amazing girl who has changed my life and many others! Support and love her as she embarks on something that the rest of us are to scared to do. God is bigger than the danger that she might run into, he will guide and protect her as he has always promised.

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  29. sorry, is not** who she is going with. typing to fast.

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  30. Anonymous said....
    1.Most every para-church,inter-denonminaltional - denonminational churches have two year oppotrunities on the mission field.
    2.I would encourage the parent to talk directly to the leader of this ministry or Church.Face to face is the very best rather than over the phone.
    3.Take someone with you - husband, friend, etc. to help articulate your thoughts. Of course your pastor would be the best option.
    4.The parent should be clear on whether or not this decision is ultimately her's or her daughters.
    5.Read every bit of literature that is available about the ministry she is involved with before you go if possible. See if the organisation has a policy that parents must sign off on there child going. Check to see if there are policies for safety and if the plans seems clear or just throun together.
    6.Call someone who is the leader in the place / country your daughter is planning to go overseas!
    I would say the bottom line is get involved. If need be look the leader in the eyes and say my daughter is going on this mission trip against my will. GPP

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    1. At no time should ANY PARENT permit their child (college age) to go overseas with this group. The network is weak and your children are at risk IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY with others that have little experience with life or anything else. In today's world, a lot can go very wrong fast. God can't be proclaimed is a kid is in trouble in another country. Looking a staff person in the eye and hoping they understand that a parent is serious about the safety of their child is utterly useless. The staff person's goal is to GET the student onboard and saturated with the CO lingo/script. They only want to recruit people and once the kid leaves town, they will be sold MORE garbage that CO is ideal and this is done AWAY from parents and family in a foreign country.

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  31. I know this is two years old but C.O. was the worst thing that every happened to me...

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  32. I read this originally two years ago when I decided I had had enough with C.O. at Elon University. The group on campus was full of great, nice, loving Christians who I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know but my experience was unfortunately very similar to yours. I used you're post as a starting point to write out my own issues with the organization and wound up writing nearly 5,000 words in one sitting. While they truly mean well and do some good it is unfortunately a very flawed organization.

    And to those making comments along the lines of "DON'T BE DECEIVED, CO ONLY EXISTS TO MAKE GREAT THE WORK OF JESUS" always remember Westboro Baptist. Just because an organization says they follow Jesus and scripture while trying to win souls does not mean that they are truly doing god’s work. While CO, in my opinion, only does a fraction of the damage Westboro Baptist does, they are none the less doing harm to young people, such as myself, even though they claim to preach the Gospel and win souls, just as Westboro Baptist claims to do. Professing Christians can do great evil. While I don’t believe that CO does anything close to what Westboro and similar groups do I think it is important to understand that slapping a Bible verse and a cross on your message does not mean it comes from god.

    If anyone has any questions or wants to hear my story in more depth, just respond and I’ll get in touch.

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  33. Anonymous from August 9, 2011, can you explain your story in more depth? What were some examples of CO not being Gospel-oriented?

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    1. For more information on Blogspot go to http://blogspot.com and even start your own blog! Xbsgsirbfbshafalgbsgh

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  34. I was involved in Campus Crusade. It turned out to be a mistake. A lot of cult like tendencies, and always hearng about Bill Bright. CCC worships Bill Bright. There was a lot of control and manipulation. I had virtually no friends or contacts with those outside CCC. Some of this was encouraged. We were taught to evangelize and as such I evanglized frequently. I was brainwashed.... I've had discussions with others and they to have wondered is CCC a cult? I'd say yes. It took a while to separate from that organization. I was getting texts and messages daily for almost 9 monthes. Scary...

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    1. Yea ManZ I feel de samme wayz... No hatas plys wybd and stufff

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  35. I have some friends that have been involved in CO in the past and pointed me to this post. A few of my own ramblings:

    1. A better definition of a religious cult: "A cult, then, is a group of people polarized around someone's interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ" (Walter Martin, The Rise of the Cults, p. 12).

    2. I was a volunteer with Young Life for 20 years. We kidded about the *key kids*, those that people flocked to. While we never restricted our relational activity by demographics, popularity, looks, etc., we also knew that if some kids came it would draw other kids. It was like a social stamp of approval. That's just a reality of kid culture. But it's also true that only targeting a certain set of kids is a man-centered ministry and not God-centered.

    3. All ministry takes on some of the personality of it's leadership. The ministries have a different feel for them at different locations based on the staff and the people in oversight. This is true of organizations, ministries, churches. It is hazardous to brand all of an organization based on a personal experience or even the experiences of a handful of people that were at different locations with different staff. Statistically it's a small group.

    4. All para-church ministries need strong, Biblical church oversight. While sometimes lip-service is paid to it, it's critical. And the oversight can introduce it's own set of issues.

    5. Many college organizations like CCC and CO face the dilemma that their future staff comes from the college students they are ministering to. I've have also seen cases where you felt like the *goal* of the ministry was biased towards students coming back on staff; if no one did then the ministry dies.

    I've also seen too much tolerance given to some staff. It was as if they feared pushing the staff into Biblical compliance; if pushed too hard they might leave and then there's no staff. Since most of these ministries have the staff raising their own support, it's not trivial to replace them.

    This is a part of the model that can tend to abuses if not carefully, prayerfully watched.

    /tim

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  36. WOW. I stumbled on this blog and glad I did. I am a Junior in college now, literally the first person I met on my first day of my freshmen year was a guy from Campus Outreach. I was vulnerable, and listened to everything he said. Luckily I was already a Christian and I believe the Holy Spirit was warning me to watch out. I have never become involved in CO but I know numerous people who are, one of which being a great friend of mine who left the group, when he too had the same doubts and concerns about the "Christian Ministry". He left and nobody would talk to him from the the group anymore, that is unless he himself initiated the conversation. My friend even went on one of there summer retreats. He hated it. I remember the stories he told me over the phone of how his so called "Room Leader" was not qualified and pretty much brain washed by Campus Outreach. I go to their wednesday night programs called "858" and before the start of every one they give a convicting speech and then promote one of their retreats. Last but not least, I have not found ONE. And I repeat ONE person involved in campus outreach who has been a Genuine Christian for more a few years. Most people involved were students targeted their freshmen years. And Like you suggested the "leaders" have only been "Christians" for 3 or 4 years. It's just not right. Finally I was an RA in the dorms one year and I can remember CO leaders just posting up in the dorm lounges waiting for vulnerable freshmen to stumble along.

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  37. I know a couple people in Campus Outreach and its sad to see them waste their college years and money to earn a degree they will never use...

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  38. A number of the red flags I've noted with C.O. after 20 years of careful observation are as follows:
    -the "popular" kids picked for leadership are ultimately damaged because of the false sense of rightousness being "special" gives.
    -the Lordship concept that C.O. adds to their salvation message encourages "people pleasing" not "God pleasing"
    -the group acts as a "buffer" between new believers and their natural support system (usually the family). For obvious reasons this is extremely dangerous and cult like.
    -the qualifications for leadership at every level are incredibly shallow. (If you've been through the "blue book", you are qualified to lead someone else through it.)
    When I think about the damage Campus Outreach has done (and is doing) to me and my family, it makes me livid.
    If you are thinking about becoming a part of this group, I would urge extreme caution...as with any cult.

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  39. Bro

    I got blacklisted fro C.O. for not being a follower. Everything you said is so true man. I refused to go to their little D-Group one night at the Beach Project and got screamed at lol. They kept trying to invite me back for a while, but then stopped completely. I kept running into the main guy and having really really really fucking akward "come back to us" conversations. I did campus outreach for 2 years, went to 2 beach projects. I can verify that it is indeed a cult , but not a dangerous one. Just creepy.

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  40. ..."indeed a cult, but not a dangerous one. Just creepy." --Hilarious!

    I was at Charleston Southern University years ago and it was painfully obvious that this ministry was recruiting popular demographics.

    I was terribly duped into the cult theology and the groupthink that is pervasive in CO. I have been a Christian since I was 7 and after coming back after my first Beach Project I was convinced that I didn't know Jesus and told my parents that I had REALLY come to know Jesus at Beach Project... and that they REALLY need to come to know him too. My dad is a Pastor.

    CO is a dark spot in my past and I am glad that this organization is no longer a part of my life.

    Praise God for grace... for me and for them.

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  41. This is not the experience I've had. Before I even entered college, I knew CO targets freshmen, greeks, and athletes because they were open about it. A special effort is made towards these groups, which may be wrong, but they are not the exclusive recipients of the gospel. People do worship leadership to a degree; I know this because they confess it and repent of it, living in light of Gal 1:10. The thing you said about dissenters being kept on the first year plan is true at my school, rather than them being cut off. I raised my eyebrows at the $200 cost of a conference, but that's actually less than Passion in atl. They don't want you for your money like a cult. I'm sure your situation was different, but CO is ultimately made up of individuals. The ones I know are imperfect people who admit to their flaws and I think they love Jesus.

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  42. The issue isn't whether or not the people in the organization aren't nice, loving, etc. most of them are lovely people. The issue has to do with organization. Is the philosophy (and methods) of the c.o. Org. In keeping with solid biblical teaching. The people can be sincerely wrong. In addition, god can do awesome things in spite of the organization. I Would Not Ever Want My Children Sucked Into An ORG. Like C.O.

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  43. I'm glad to have found people who have been through C.O. and who have survived relatively unscathed. Like the author of this blog said, they start you out during your freshmen year and from then on, you have to prove your worth to the organization. It took me a year and a half to get out of the situation. When I finally left, I felt angry, stupid, and hurt from being a part of it so long. It only frustrates me now because I know that every new school year they are going to continue this cycle with unsuspecting freshmen, and if some of them realize the ugly truth about C.O. they are going to feel exactly how we feel...betrayed and used. I wish there was something we could do about this.

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    1. I think in someway alot of the people who have wrote nagatuve things ^ about CO ... There expierience has to do with a lack of majority. All ministries including churches have flaws. People run them and Christian or not they are sinner they have flaws . I went on my first summer beach project not knowing anything about CO. I went because secretly I was heroin addict and was misereble with life didn't give a damn about god but beach project was cheaper than any rehab and I thought I give it a shot. I became a Christian there and have been sober for 4 years . I analyze everything and realized that there are flaws because we are human and communication is what fixes flaws not spite. You also have to be mature enough to take everything back to the bible and remember that Christ is to be the center of our lives and if you make a ministry like CO the center of your life and use it as your gateway to christ youl have a terrible expierience because ministry are run by people and people are sinful and will fail you. Christ will not.

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  44. My son is currently a part of this organization at his campus, and planning to go on the Orlando Project this summer. The cost is $1500. After reading through each of these comments, it's scary that my son has experienced so many of the same circumstances as each of these people have mentioned. Even down to the author's he now is so interested in!! Anyone else have some info they can give me? They are apparently planning a parent info night to talk about what will be going on this summer. What are some questions I should be asking or what signs that something isn't right should I be looking for? I'm really nervous now because my son is a great kid who is loved by everyone who knows him. He loves God and I don't ever want him to lose focus of what's really important!

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    1. My daughter is very involved with Campus Outreach at Indiana State University, and it has been a phenomenal experience for her faith walk with Jesus. At an end-of-year Campus Outreach event, over seventy ISU students indicated by publicly walking across a stage that they had made decisions within the past year to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. And 70 is a remarkable percentage for a campus of only a few thousand students. Our daughter chose (not coerced) to attend the Orlando Project summer discipleship program, and plans to return again this upcoming summer. It was a rich, rewarding, and exhausting time. She learned how to joyfully sacrifice and endure by living in a tiny rundown hotel room with five young women in her room. Our daughter learned how to witness to unbelievers, to be accountable to others, and along the way, she fell more in love with Jesus. She became friends with literally hundreds of committed Christians at O.P. who continue to encourage her in her faith walk. Before coming to a secular college, she attended a conservative Christian school Pre-K through 12th grade. We are still glad our family made that Christian school decision because it gave our children a strong foundation in the Truth; nonetheless we were a bit disappointed at our daughter's lukewarmness, for lack of a better term. But since her two years involvement with C.O., her faith walk has grown exponentially. I am eternally grateful for the young leaders serving there for so little money. I don't think 18 to 22 year olds would respond as well to older adults, so using young leaders is a wise strategy. They love ALL students, popular or ostracized, attractive or ugly, rich or poor. And attempting to influence leaders first because of one's very limited time is also a wise strategy, not an evil scheme. The young C.O. leaders are accountable to older more mature adults who are very theologically grounded.

      Having said that, I am very sorry that the original post's author, and evidently many others who commented, have had bad C.O. experiences. Jesus did not purposefully try to offend people, but he was courageous enough to confront wrong thinking and behavior. I pray God's grace will fall on us all! Lord, have mercy on this contention. I pray for unity among the body of Christ, which is God's chosen bride, His church. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Perhaps a more effective way to deal with frustration is to pour out our angry hurts to God, as the ancient psalmists did, whether in private words or by journaling. The Almighty is tough enough to take it, and He already knows how we feel anyway, so why not go on and dialogue about it directly with Him! Then in turn, the public forum is a place to offer helpful words that build each other up, not tear each other down. I believe there is a lot of wisdom in the quote commonly ascribed to St. Augustine: "In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity." Campus Outreach’s methodology clearly bothered you. However, I submit to you the consideration that particular methodology is not an “essential” of the faith. It falls into the gray areas of life – those spaces in which God allows us to make decisions on our own, following our own consciences, because a particular method is not clearly delineated in Scripture. Obviously there are many essentials of the faith that are worth fighting over because they are clearly explained in Scripture and are foundational to our faith. But may I gently propose that campus evangelism strategy is probably not one of those essentials? When we encounter something that we disagree with in a non-essential area, I believe it is best to simply Eat The Meat, and Spit Out The Bones.

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    2. Well put. I experienced the same wonderful things. There are only a few campus ministries on campus and I am thankful that CO was there. It was an answer to prayer being so far from home.

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  45. The one question my mom asked before I left was..."Why can't you serve God here?" I wish I had been mature enough to understand the full impact of what she was pointing out. There is nothing special about Beach Project. Anything God wants to teach your son can be learned right where he is now. The group uses peer pressure and manipulation to make young believers feel like they will be missing out on something. RUN! Don't walk away from this group. He may not understand. He may be mad at you. But, if you are lucky he'll thank you one day. And, he won't have years and years of baggage to unwind and overcome.

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  46. hahaha, I have just read this, and every comment. It is completely transparent with my experience with C.O. I was asked to go on a beach project and to turn down my summer intership or I was a bad person. It was very stressfull for the several months prior to the deadline... simply because deep down I couldnt leave the internship for various reasons, so I had to come up with b.s. excuses to evade their manipulation. As a result it has driven me away from these ideas, although I still do believe in God down deep. A large fault of C.O. is to put so much pride into the "leaders." They think they are better then everyone, and all the "uncool" people strive to be like them, when in reality they are like a recruiting business and try to gain as many "followers" per leader.. the more people you have recruited.. the cooler you are.. and more say you have in the b.s. I do like all the people in the group, but do wish they would not pressure you to follow them.

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  47. Many friends of mine have struggled with emotional spiritual baggage because of involvement with CO. We were involved twenty years ago. I also benefited in many ways from the discipleship in CO. It is a bitter sweet group of me. Many of my friend are now in full time pastoral ministry of some type.

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  48. Although CO is probably great at some schools and it's probably not right to make it sound as if all CO ministries are the same, I have gotten the same vibe at my university (I will not say where). Something just seemed a little "off" and I only attended about 4 or 5 meetings. There was not much scripture reading which I did not like, and I felt like there was not mature adult leaders in the ministry. I also felt there was a lot of pressure put on members to attend mission trips, Beach Project, and New Year's Conference. All in all, I mostly agree with your article and fear some of my friends still in the ministry will find all of this out the hard way.

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  49. I am an experienced alumnus of Campus Outreach and I can whole heartedly agree with most of what you have said here.

    I attended West Georgia College (now the State University of West Georgia)from 1988 to March 1993. I got involved in CO the second part of my freshman year. I went to Summer Beach Projects in 1989, 1990, and 1991. I was a "Disciple Leader" at SBP that last year in 1991. In 1992, I went to Mexico City with their mission team there. I went to every Gatlinburg Christmas Conference, Fall Men's Conference, and weekly CO meeting we had. I even had the requisite badge of a "real" CO'er, a leather-bound DayTimer! (We even called this the "Dagger of the Spirit", it was considered such an important tool for time management).

    While I am grateful to CO for many things, I believe their lack of theological training, and their emphasis on methods and "training" too often leads to a spirituality based upon PERFORMANCE and LEGALISM. Their focus on popular and attractive "sharp" people for recruitment and leadership is an affront to the Gospel and an insult to the Cross of Christ who died for "the LEAST of these", not the most popular of these. Their methods and training and "Discipling" model tend to lead to a mass homogeniety, rewarding conformity and punishing and discouraging individual choice, preferences, and personalities. Their emphasis of methodology over theology leads to people who have little real understandings of the BASICS of Christian doctrine being promoted to LEADERSHIP, because they have learned to follow the PATTERNS and PRACTICES of CO better than others. This leads to what you termed "the ignorant teaching the ignorant".

    At West Georgia, church attendance was encouraged, but churches in general were looked down on as being "luke warm" because they didn't teach people how to have Quiet Times the way CO taught and they didn't teach people how to use the "4 Spiritual Laws", teach "Discipling" the way we did in CO. I cannot count the number of times I heard the comment, "Well, I do go to church, but really, I consider Campus Outreach my REAL church!" Churches were seen as a kind of obligation, but the REALLY committed Christians, focused more on CO than on their churches.

    We had an arrogance about us. We were FAR more spiritual than most other Christians...in our own minds. The Baptist Student Union was a joke...nothing more than a social club for luke-warm Christians. The Wesley Foundation (the Methodist campus ministry) was seen as a cesspool of liberalism and sexual immorality (we had no real evidence of either of these, it was just understood).

    I remember vividly the attitude being displayed at the Gatlinburg Christmas Conference when a speaker ACTUALLY SAID THESE WORDS (nearly verbatim) "You know what I sometimes wish? I know I couldn't do it really, but sometimes I wish I could call each person up here one at a time and ask him or her, 'Are you committed to multiplying disciples to reach the world for Jesus Christ for the rest of your life?' And if the answer was YES, I would let them go their way to do it. If the answer was NO or I dont' know, then I would take a gun and put a BULLET IN THEIR HEADS and send them on to HEAVEN! Because they are doing NOTHING to advance the Kingdom of God and they are WASTING THEIR TIME HERE ON EARTH! They might as well go on to their reward in heaven for all the good they are doing! Now...I'm not suggesting that we do that really, now, understand I'm just making a point. IF YOU ARENT GOING TO COMMIT TO MAKING DISCIPLES AS A WAY OF LIFE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, then WHAT IS THE POINT OF YOUR LIFE?"

    This actually happened. It was actually said at a Gatlinburg Christmas Conference of Campus Outreach, and the response was thunderous applause and approval.
    Are they a cult?...maybe, maybe not. But they are certainly CLOSE to one.

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    1. Why do I have the feeling that I am possibly something reading from my old roommate from Pritchard Hall in the Spring of 92 right before I graduated with a French degree...?:) I went to SBP in the summer of 95 and between my own attitudes and faults as I resisted and defied any form of control and sadly, due to unstable D-group leaders in the room I shared, I became quite rebellious for many years after and ran from God. Now 20 years later and being in a wheelchair, I am active in church and seeking God more than ever. I wish too I could go back knowing what I know today so I might have been able to deal with things differently. Coulda, woulda shoulda...good thing there is no way to shock or surprise God and that He still has a plan...He can turn anything around for His Glory...even a bad SBP experience. The one thing I have carried in my heart wast the weekend my roommate took me to his family home for teh weekend and I remember he shared the video from the Easter Passion play with me and well, suddenly during part where Jesus was crucified and suffering and dying on teh cross....and he suddenly pointed at the TV and said: "The next time anyone ever tells you you aren't worth anything...you show them THAT!" I don't know who you are but I know just like my old roomie, you made a difference in many lives:)

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  50. Now I understand why I got the "bum's rush" after my junior year of college. I was no longer useful to the cult. (My husband had more influence on my future than the group. Imagine that!) It's gross that these people act in "God's name". Why are they so special?
    {Augusta College}

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  51. The commentor from West GA and I had to have been on beach project together at Gulf Highlands in 1990, and some Gatlinburg conferences as well. What you wrote could have come right out of my mouth. I was too weak and insecure to stand up and say... "Wait a minute! Are you telling me to only spend time in ministry with the "Sharp" guys? What about the "Losers" in my dorm? Are you sure this is biblical?"

    I heard another guy from Troy say those things once in a leaders meeting in Bangkok and he got shelled for not being a "Leader" and "really doing it".

    It is a shame that even though so much good has been done by CO, that they have caused a lot of spiritual damage as well.

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  52. My daughter was a college athlete and after reading this blog was targeted, which we always suspected from the beginning. A young man who was involved with CO and is now on staff was basically chosen for her to marry and she did! We are still in a state of utter disbelief on how all that transpired. They both graduated and have no intention to use their respective degree as I previously stated her husband now is "on staff" developing and honing his skills on how to prey upon unsuspecting college students. Her father and I had many discussions with her regarding this organization and to steer clear of it but she would not listen. Her involvement with the organization literally tore us apart from her and broke our hearts. It is so sad to know that she will never live up to her potential or really experience life as an independent young woman. She is now expected to follow her husband and discouraged from making any decisions for herself or follow her own ambitions and dreams. This organization is not what is represents itself to be and should not be trusted. Anyone reading this should warn any college student they know and is attending a campus that this organization is affliated with to not to get involved! Unfortunately we could not protect our daughter from this threat but if just one person is saved from joining by reading this blog then that's a win for the voice of sanity and reason!

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Of course, I don't know your daughter's situation, but I want to encourage you by emphasizing that my husband and I met through working for Campus Outreach. We both loved the experience as it helped us to grow in our faiths and help others to do the same. My parents did think that us raising support and getting married quickly were odd, but they also saw how God provided for our support and that we had such a great friendship before marriage that dating quickly made sense. I also believe that we have (5 years in) a wonderful marriage, largely as a result of the ways we learned to confess our sin to and serve others in college ministry. After several years of working with Campus Outreach, we decided to more on to complete graduate degrees and pursue other desires we believe God gave us. Far from being a tyrannical dictator, my husband is very loving and has been supportive of me to pursue my PhD, which I am doing now. I am hopeful that your daughter will also pursue the dreams God puts in her heart. Those dreams might be working in fulltime ministry, but, on the other hand, fulltime ministry may only last for a short time. Either way, I'm sorry that your relationship is strained, and I hope that it gets better with time.

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  53. Sure wish Ida read this BECORE my son went this June ! They charge you rent which if you don't raise you ha e to pay while they give you about 20% of your pay and feed you 4 meals a week.... Craziness!!

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  54. I bury my 1st cousin Antwyn Golden tomorrow he was murdered in Indianapolis last Sunday July 15th and if it wasn’t for laborers on the campus of Indiana State I’d either be in the ground with him or still spending my life being empty and heavily pursuing the things that were never meant to satisfy me eternally.
    Before I met individuals in CO, my life was shaped by the men in it. One of my cousins was a Drug dealer, uncle was a prosperity preacher, grandfather was an alcoholic, and other uncle showed me girly magazines at a young age which led to an addiction of pornography. I idolized all the men in my family and wanted to carry out a sinful piece of all their lives into mine.
    Then I meet these dudes at Indiana State and for the first time ever I seen men who were giving their life to something greater than themselves and even in that; I learned that they are still broken souls in need of a savior and that Jesus is the epitome of masculinity and leadership.
    It’s easy to point fingers at anything we disagree with and neglect the evidences of grace and fruit from this ministry and how many lives have been transformed as a result of seeds being planted and clear presentations of gospel.
    Habakkuk complained about the environment around him then God revealed to him his own sin he had a vision laced it in prayer then rejoiced.
    Tevin Studdard

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  55. I'm not quite sure how I first stumbled across this but I felt compelled to add a portion of my story.

    Jesus redeemed and rescued me from my outwardly moral but inwardly rebellious life. Campus Outreach was the primary tool he used to draw me into this relationship with himself and teach me how to walk with him, so others may come to know and follow the Savior.

    Were "tools" used along the way? Yes. But these things happened primarily through relationships - watching men who loved me walk with God and give their lives away to others. I was never taught that evangelism and discipleship could only be done "CO's" way.

    The idea of spiritual multiplication through sharing life with a few to reach the many is not at all a "cult-like" practice. It is the DNA of CO that is rooted in the model Jesus gave us (Matthew 3:14) as well as Pail (2 Timothy 2:2). The contexts change, the specific methods change, but the heart stays the same. I'm grateful for learning through the model of men in CO that through giving my life to this mission, the Lord can use my sinful life to significantly impact the gospel reaching all nations.

    I would not know the Jesus of the bible, nor would I have any clue what it looked like to follow him or lead others to him, if it were not for the men of CO who LOVED me enough to lay down their lives for me and other friends in college.


    I encourage you to contact those you feel hurt by. No one working fr CO has it all together, and I would ask you to stop holding them to a standard you can't meet yourself. We all have the same idolatrous heart of our father Adam. We all need the cleansing blood of Jesus. Show the the grace of the gospel it sounds like you've been shown and seek restoration and repentance. I hope that's what you're after anyway.




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    1. If an organization is a negative one you can't just say show grace. It's just a cop out to acknowledge the CO isn't good. You could use that arguement for anything and justify and act by saying just show grace.

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  56. "...The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." Philippians 1:18

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    1. Lydia, the way that you just used to that verse is in a very air-lifted way. Paul was in jail and it was people faking to be him that were preaching the gospel in hope of destroying his ministry. The parallel isn't there. And regardless I am joyful for the people that have come to Christ through CO but, we are talking about how CO orchestrates its ministry in a way that when implemented emotionally hurts people. No faithful Christian should back away from that rebuke. The Christ-like thing to do is to try to improve as a ministry, by looking at people's critiques and then adapting. One easy adaption is to allow seminary graduates to go on staff that weren't involved in the ministry during their college years.

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  60. I am an atheist and i think all organized religion is a cult and all of you are cult followers if you read the Bible... thank you and good day.

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  61. don't all 5 of those things describe organized religions?

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  62. Ridiculous arguments like this over organized organized religion makes me glad I'm not a Christian! Thanks to all of you for helping me stay grounded in my truth!

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  63. I am so glad I found this board! I was never involved with CO at my campus, but I was familiar with it because of acquaintances who were (this was late 70s to early 80s). My issues with them came later, several years after I graduated. I was in line to assume the Directorship of my church's College Ministry, only to have 2 CO members (one of whom had only recently started attending my church, and who had recently married his CO girlfriend) be given the position (there was never a public vote held, just an announcement of their promotion). I tried to meet with the pastor to protest it, only to have him try to give me a list of Christian counselors to work on my attitude. I ended up leaving my church, and within 2 months, a thriving College Ministry of about 50 students was reduced to less that 10 (all of whom were CO friends and relatives of the new Directors. I found that the Pastor's favorite professor in Seminary was the grandfather of one of these guys. Interestingly, that Pastor was caught in at least his SECOND adulterous affair 16 months later, and the two new Directors were effectively silenced. That church has never had another ministry to College students since. Sadly, both of them are still in ministry today.

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    1. Those least Godly hide best in the church and in ministry. ALWAYS check out who is in positions of authority. Check for stories that don't match, being in places and said to be in another, shallow Biblical understandings, parroting strings of quotes from others with ZERO original info that's theirs, etc., and check the financial backgrounds of ALL involved.

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  64. The women in CO seem to have this "deer-in-the-headlights" look in their eyes, and to be dominated by their CO boyfriends.. having read the post above about throwing girls in the swimming pool, I'm wondering if there isn't some abuse going on..

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  65. So far concerning Campus Outreach, I have not heard one negativity concerning the Summer Beach Project. http://www.wbtw.com/story/22926753/college-kids-descend-on-myrtle-beach-with-purpose

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  66. Like a few of the commenters before me, I feel that my time in CO was very bittersweet. However, I myself do not quite fit into the mold described by the author. Nor does my school, it would seem. I attended a small, Christian university where quite often it seemed that the various campus ministries were in competition with each other, which itself is pretty pathetic. CO was sort of on hiatus my first semester. There were no meetings to attend; it was all about building relationships. That seemed to be the main focus on our campus: making friends, sharing the love of Christ, and sharing the gospel. Having been raised in the church, most of what I was hearing was nothing new, but I do believe the ministry was instrumental in helping me find my own faith and convictions after eighteen years of having my parents determine most of that for me. It was also the first time I really experienced discipleship, which I loved and still crave. I learned and experienced different ways really to study the Bible and draw my own convictions from what I was reading.

    During my time in college, it seems our particular region of CO was trying to work on a lot of the things mentioned in this article. For example, there was no clear, well-defined hierarchy system. There were student leaders, but I never felt that any of their motivations were simply to move up in the system... there really wasn't anyplace to go. Secondly, I had no desire to attain a leadership role or go into straight-up ministry, but that was never used against me and in fact, my junior and senior years, members of campus staff made extra efforts to support me in the other areas in which I showed interest. They also made quite some efforts to help us transition into the church and life after college in my final year. Was it perfect? Certainly not. Were their hearts in the right place? I think so. Do I regret my involvement in this ministry? A few select moments perhaps, but on the whole, definitely not. However, I do understand how the intense nature and some poor decisions from staff and "leaders" could definitely rub people the wrong way. It is a ministry that certainly is not for everyone, but I believe its primary goal is the advancement of the gospel of Christ, and I can't really fault them for that...

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  67. Christians are idiots and this blog proves it!

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  68. Everything written here is true about Campus Outreach, it's tactics and arrogant, condescending manner. It's part of the fabric of the organization. Granted, there ARE some who innocently participate in this "program" that ARE decent, loving, caring, Godly people, but those tend to drift in and drift out. The ones that are recruiting these freshman kids into this operation are far more hardnosed and manipulative. The material they use for this so-called, "training" is nothing more than a rewrite of Navigators literature edited for the PCA denomination's use. CO is a PCA organization through and through. It began as an expansion of Briarwood Presbyterian's college department in 1979. This loosely knit group also has influence from the now defunked, Florida Bible College's, Handbook of Personal Evangelism by A Ray Stanford. This group is a hodgepodge of various schools of thought on Christian "witnessing" that was popoular in the early 1970's.

    Love God and serve Him, but be wise--------and do NOT get sold on this religious stuff that leads nowhere. If you want to be a missionary-----do so with a far, far better group than this. Do some research and find the BEST organization out there; one that has been around for a very, very long time and has people involved from all the ages represented and a healthy dose of theologically degreed people as well. You can do far more with a sound ourganization than you can with this bunch or any other parachurch operation. Again, they are not all bad, but they do not contribute much to the larger Christian world. There are 2 billion Christians in the world. Campus Crusade for Christ-----25K involved on staff worldwide. Navigators----5K involved on staff worldwide. Campus Outreach 450 involved on staff worldwide. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship 1,025 on staff in the USA. Fellowship of Christian Athletes, 1,100 on staff in the USA. So Campus Outreach is not a big operation at all. The turn over rate is enormous. Know what you're getting into, if you stay with this group. If you're thinking about joining this group, rethink it and pass it up. Find other options. If you don't know about God, find an older preacher in a well established church and go talk to them.

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  69. I agree with most of what you said, but CO is not a PCA organization through and through. They have no official ties to the PCA. Many CO staff choose to link themselves with PCA churches, but many don't. Many "home base CO" churches are Baptist. The PCA has its own campus ministry called RUF that is very different in structure and ministry focus than CO. Not all CO staff or students attend PCA churches. CO receives no funding from the PCA as a denomination, although local churches may choose to support the ministry like they would any other mission endeavor. I agree, keep your eyes open and find a good solid church.

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    1. Yes, CO is 100% originating from the PCA denomination. The Baptist churches or others that have allowed this organization in their church are "reformed" and have Calvinist leanings as the Calvinist fad has, for now, crept into traditional churches. This is a fad and it will pass in due time. There is a cloaked attempt to hijack traditional Baptist churches and others by para church organizations and Calvinist leaning operations. Their sales pitch is "we can agree on missions missions missions" and then the Calvinist propaganda follows. The RUF is by far the better, mainline organization. The PCA has let CO flounder and has chosen to focus more on RUF because it's a better organization overall. But the PCA's fingerprints are 100% on CO.

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  70. CO originated at Briarwood, which was one of three churches that started the PCA denomination in the 1960''s. They are Calvinists, and very conservative. CO was known as Briarwood's Campus Outreach for many, many years.

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  71. Hi,

    I have started blogging about my experience in the ministry here, mostly as a way of dealing with issues stemming from my time there. Feel free to add anything or comment.

    http://leavingcampusoutreach.tumblr.com/

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    1. I am not seeing the link. Is there a new address?

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  72. WOW! This bog not only opened my eyes to the deception of College Ministries but also to the deception of Christianity! i was going to get involved in a college ministry (specifically Campus Outreach) and begin to explore what Christianity was all about, but after reading this I've decided not to be deceived by organized religion. Thanks for whoever wrote this blog for giving me clarity in following a cult and how i can be deceived by these lies people feed us about Christianity and God. I for sure will be on my guard from here on out and will choose not to explore Christianity if i can be that easily deceived. Its kinda interesting to me how we can all Coexist and Christians can help an atheist like me stay grounded in what i believe. Something to think about...

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  73. Thank you for your blog. My neice is involved with this group, and has had everyone believing she is preaching and minintering to the masses, when all she is truly doing is recruiting other future recruiters. It is a pyramid scheme and she is guilting my poor mother(who is her grandmother) into giving her money. My mom os a catholic, and has no idea what C.O truly is. This girl is trying to manipulate others who arenot strong personalities and it is stRting to cause family problems.

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    1. This is the point!! Divide kids from parents, isolate, indoctrinate and recruit while being slowly told how to "raise support" (beg working people for money to have a hobby taking about God to others---this can be done for free daily while holding a real job).

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  74. It's still going on. These people targeted my daughter, who is a freshman at college, probably because she was having a hard time making friends. They pressurized her to go on a weekend retreat with them. Luckily, she may be a bit lonely but she's not an idiot and was able to see through these people and their organization. They are still pressurizing her, even though she has said she is not interested in joining them.
    She was also shocked at the way some of them spoke about their parents, who wouldn't cough up the money for them to go to Africa and bother poor unsuspecting Kenyans. This turning of members against their families certainly smacks of a cult. They tried the same thing on her when she said she didn't want to go with them to be indoctrinated in Florida, didn't have the money to pay for it anyway and wouldn't ask us for it.
    I am so proud of her for seeing through these people and standing up to their bullying.

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    1. Keep your daughter away from these nuts!! So proud of her for not buying into their scam. Running down parents is standard operating procedure. According to the unspoken CO doctrine, ALL come from "bad backgrounds"! It's a way to create a false bond over some trumped up shared misery.

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  77. I just spent a week in a seminary class with a CO class, hearing "behind the scenes" strategies and methodologies. The comments made on this blog and most comments are making assumptions that are WAY off base. I've rarely been in a room with such a devoted group of Christ followers. These are Gospel saturated young men who are devoting their lives to seeing a movement for Christ at their campus. Because they are praying for a movement....not just another campus ministry....they have very specific and well thought out strategies on how to go about doing so. Some of these strategies are to maximize the time they get to spend with ones they are discipling...so going after freshmen is obviously a huge benefit. I agree that at first the thought of targeting the influential seemed to go against Scripture, but once I better understood it, I'm all for it. By choosing to work on a college campus, you are already excluding 99% of the population. So what's wrong with narrowing the focus just a little bit more, and targeting specific kinds of people on the campus? Why not go after the "loners"? Because the heart of CO is for the entire campus to be won for Christ. I sat in the room and listened to them pray for the quiet, outcast, loners on campus come to know Christ. The best way for that to happen is by multiplication...by creating a movement. The most quickest, most strategic way for the whole campus is to win the "chiefs" of the campus. "Win the chief, win the tribe" is a strategy that has been used by missionaries for hundreds of years. Think about the characteristics of Paul, Moses, Peter....these were very influential and strategic men for God to use to make maximum impact! They have a clear vision, and have set very strategic goals to see that vision happen. I'm a former missionary and full time campus ministry worker, and CO has my prayers and my full support.

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  78. I just spent a week in a seminary class with a CO class, hearing "behind the scenes" strategies and methodologies. The comments made on this blog and most comments are making assumptions that are WAY off base. I've rarely been in a room with such a devoted group of Christ followers. These are Gospel saturated young men who are devoting their lives to seeing a movement for Christ at their campus. Because they are praying for a movement....not just another campus ministry....they have very specific and well thought out strategies on how to go about doing so. Some of these strategies are to maximize the time they get to spend with ones they are discipling...so going after freshmen is obviously a huge benefit. I agree that at first the thought of targeting the influential seemed to go against Scripture, but once I better understood it, I'm all for it. By choosing to work on a college campus, you are already excluding 99% of the population. So what's wrong with narrowing the focus just a little bit more, and targeting specific kinds of people on the campus? Why not go after the "loners"? Because the heart of CO is for the entire campus to be won for Christ. I sat in the room and listened to them pray for the quiet, outcast, loners on campus come to know Christ. The best way for that to happen is by multiplication...by creating a movement. The most quickest, most strategic way for the whole campus is to win the "chiefs" of the campus. "Win the chief, win the tribe" is a strategy that has been used by missionaries for hundreds of years. Think about the characteristics of Paul, Moses, Peter....these were very influential and strategic men for God to use to make maximum impact! They have a clear vision, and have set very strategic goals to see that vision happen. I'm a former missionary and full time campus ministry worker, and CO has my prayers and my full support.

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  79. Brian, you drank the kool-aid. My hunch is that you're a nice guy and just haven't seen the other side of this operation when it goes off track.

    As is noted above over years of time, this IS a hybrid operation that is 100% about recruiting. God is dropped in for credibility.

    For fun, do some long research on this group, it's originators and where they got their "training material". It's all recycled stuff from the late 1960's/early 1970's out of South Florida.

    Read about A Ray Stanford and the Florida Bible College. Stanford ran off with his secretary and this flakey school closed. Read about how A Ray Stanford was a top National Cash Register salesman and how he took the sales primer to sell cash registers and basically used it to "sell Jesus". Read about the fad called the Sheparding Movement in South Florida prior to that time.

    Three preachers in Alabama and Mississippi got mad at the Presbyterian Church over women and pulled out of the PCUSA and formed the tiny PCA---the hard right Calvinist. To get this fledgling denomination off the ground, they accepted any form of anything to drag people in the door. There was no filter or checks and balances, specifically at Briarwood, and any half hatched idea to market for members was allowed. The financial mismanagement of this operation has been nothing short of a Ponsi Scheme. Several years ago, the man who claims to be "the Founder" of Campus Outreach was shuffling funds from the International side to the Domestic side and was running short to the tune of 1.5M. There has always been a lot of hyped numbers (converts and participants and cash) so that this group appears more solid than it is.

    If anyone is involved in this organization, or is being recruited get away from this now. The lofty, inflated stories about how the self proclaimed founder joined a fraternity with no Christian is a complete falsehood as is all the old stories passed around that sound nice and carry the impression of a legend. It's all a lot of ego inflated lies about things that never happened and were designed to look good to gullible college kids. The degree of outright bullying others and brainwashing innocent, gullible people into worshiping some "leader" is utterly ridiculous.

    The college market is easy pickings for most any group due to the gullible factor being very high. I'm sure there ARE some decent, well meaning, clueless people in CO, but the fact remains that this organization has had a slew of complaints for DECADES and the complaints are consistent over the years. The Church Universal is not helped by operations like this. It's harmed by it. The unfortunate side step in life this causes innocent people is a shame.

    The PCA is a tiny tiny sliver of global Christianity. They claim to be the fastest growing denomination. They aren't. Another comment above states something like under 400,000 total. That's correct. And they are losing members due to their fanatical bent. Apparently Briarwood's School system is in hot water over a rather large drug bust and school officials tried to keep it quiet and shunned parents. Parents were livid and went public. Some are leaving the school system.

    The problem with all this is the false impression given and perpetuated and the lies to cover things up or hide the fact that things aren't nearly as holy, right and good as claimed.

    Thank GOD for this website. The people at CO know about it and do attempt to bolster the false image of holy, sweet and harmless. It's not that at all. Anyone involved in CO just get out, walk away. Don't waste your time. Furthermore, just stop attending anything for a while and see how you're treated. If the specific group you're in isn't saturated with ego hogs who will intimidate you and get mad at you for taking a break away from their little meetings, then maybe you'll survive. The wiser path is to walk away. Find another organization that is far better than this one.

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  80. So thankful for this ministry. I didn't grow up in a Christian household. A student who was involved with Campus Outreach shared the Gospel with me and my life was forever changed.

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  81. I did Campus Outreach in the 1980s. It's not a cult, just sort of ridiculous and goofy and in retrospect laughably dumb. I really would not recommend kids do this. If my kids did, I'd be concerned that I hadn't taught them to be proper skeptics.

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  82. Just stumbled onto this. My name is Steven Salter. I was at Troy in the late 90's until early 00/01. Wow. I am hard pressed for words. Mostly because we all screw up. Not like a little, but a lot. No matter your faith (and not having a faith is still a faith), anyone would agree we all stumble, fail, sin, whatever you prefer to call it. And we all do this a lot. I am sad to think that anyone would look to any organization as a "savior". Or look toward an organization as the THING WHICH IS HERE TO SAVE ME, IMPROVE ME. The only one who can rescue, if indeed there is a need for rescue / and indeed if there be a need for a rescuer, would be Jesus. And if Jesus is real, then he may work in various ways through various people, groups, churches and perhaps almost anything. And if Jesus works through people - and if the only perfect person was Jesus - then guess what? We're all gonna get screwed from time to time - and $20 bucks says you and I are gonna screw somebody soon.

    I have a mixed bag. I was a student involved in CO. I became a christian at Troy through a room mate that sincerely was a great gift to me and he helped me understand the good news of Jesus. I did have disappointments though. I had disappointments in my room mate, the organization leadership, the organization itself, and more. But the majority of that was me being a jerk. Ha. I was (and still am) a jerk depending on what day you catch me. I was on staff in Central Asia for a year - then wanted to enter the business world. So I left. Wouldn't trade my experiences for anything. All of them - good or bad.

    I have disappointments in my bride some days, in my job, in my church. Do you know why? Because like me, there's at least one sinner in close proximity to me in every one of those settings. And sinners will let you down. (Thank goodness.)

    I do hate that all of us learned hard lessons, and at the same time, I'm glad you learned hard lessons. If the lessons are true, then you are better for it right? If the lessons learned prove to be false - then you (and I) will be a bitter spewing fountain of venom toward any group or person or thing that doesn't meet our standard of perfection.

    At any rate. Let it go bro. You are more than any group or any "one point in time" in your life. If God is real, test him by bringing your complaints and concerns to him. See what happens. Maybe nothing. Maybe something unbelievable.

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  83. As a current CO staff member, I can say that I am truly sorry for the wrong and hurt that you have experienced over the years due to the actions of certain individuals. Praise God for His grace and mercy to each one of us through Jesus Christ, without which, none of us would receive forgiveness of our sins. My prayer and vision is that Christ would rescue and redeem the lives of hundreds, even thousands, of college students by whatever means possible for the glory of God our Father, whether by Campus Outreach, CRU, InterVarsity, parents, professors, friends, local churches, etc.

    One of the main reasons I am passionate about Campus Outreach is because it is not a para-church organization. Each regional ministry is under the authority and leadership of a local church body, which provides a crucial source of accountability, leadership, and resources. Each staff member, including myself, is required to be a member of the local church that is affiliated with the CO region.

    I absolutely love attending church on Sunday, receiving Biblical teaching during the Sunday School, worshipping with college students (my friends) at my side, and being fed by God's Word from a solid pastor, who is one of the council members for The Gospel Coalition. All praise and Glory be to God the Father!

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  84. I completely understand. I have the desire to know God more, so it was easy to join in the group that seemed to have similar goals in CO. It is without a doubt a group of human beings trying to do what they think is right. I don't think they intentionally create problems but in their journey to know and share God, their human decisions and reasoning get in the way. I think this can happen in any religious organization. The scary part to me is when Christians, or any person of faith, take it upon themselves to firmly direct your life. My experience in CO was that my choices were met with a stern talking to if I wasn't going the direction they thought I was supposed to. I think mentors are great but someone stepping into your life with that kind of authority can be really life changing. It can turn into not listening to God for direction but into pleasing your bible study leader because they take a tone of disappointment if you don't. We all have a journey to go through in life and it leads us to know ourselves and to love others and God. Ultimately it is our decision to give another person this much control and for me it didn't lead to freedom but rather broken "friendships" and regret over giving away the control to listen to God to help me direct my life to letting my bible study leader (discipleship leader) have too much control.

    I don't want to be broken by the hurt I experienced by being a part of CO, although it does linger. I have often considered sharing my experience to try to reconcile with a few of the people i was close to in an effort to help. But I think I could try to explain this to people still in CO all day long but they wouldn't see it because they have become do indoctrinated to this being a reasonable way of life. I feel very conflicted as a often look back fondly on some of the experiences I had but I am also completely heartbroken by some of the firm direction I was given even though I was not doing anything wrong. It was only wrong in their opinion. Like moving out of my dorm to a house and in their perspective not being available to minister on campus. Although I still spent the majority of my time on campus and at my job and felt completely at ease with my decision but was basically an outcast after deciding to move off campus against my bible study leaders opinion. It was heartbreaking to see how quickly the friendships could dissipate after that. It left me scarred and feeling like an unfaithful bad Christian. But after some time has gone by and I have healed some, I have gotten to see myself for who I really am, a person still wanting to know God more even after a lot of hurt with CO.

    I was involved in the organization for 3 year starting in 1999. I hope this encourages someone that reads it that may be feeling the same way.

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  85. This article truly makes so much sense! Two CO leaders were knocking on every door in my hallway in my dorm freshman year. When my roommate and I answered the door, we naturally let them in being that they are two very sweet girls about the age of 22-23. We began going to the club CO made and it seemed very laid-back at first! My roommate and I are both Catholic but had kind of strayed from our faith so we thought this was doing us a lot of good! But then, one of the leaders began meeting with us one-on-one and really started delving into our life - wanted to know our entire background and let me tell you, these people are not too fond of Catholics. So this is what they began doing: they tried to sway us to kind of drop our Catholic faith and go their church (something we had never intended on doing) and they didn't consider us Christians yet. Also, the CO leaders would stop at nothing to get us to come on their NYE conference trip and the Orlando Project trip and almost made it seem like if we didn't attend, we could in no way grow closer to God. They brought these conferences up in almost every conversation we had, even though we had told them we couldn't attend. Then, one day I was praying with one of the CO leaders and when we were done, she told me I had become a Christian. At the time I was excited, but still a little confused because I had considered myself a Christian my whole life. I did attend their Spring Conference which was with 2 other colleges and don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun and I do think I took something from it. But all in all, this organization made me feel really guilty for some of the actions I've done in my life and I always felt like I couldn't measure up to their "holiness" and that made me feel really uncomfortable being that I considered them my friends. Well, they had me hook-line-and-sinker about the Orlando Project and when I came to my mom about it, that's when she started having a lot of questions about this organization. When I was at school, my mom sent me an email about how this CO acts kind of like a cult. I showed it to my roommate and what struck us most was just how identical this one girl's experience with CO was to ours. We thought we were the only ones who were skeptical about them so it is slightly comforting that we aren't alone, but at the same time this is troubling that their tactics are taught nationwide. After my mom sent us that email, neither of us attended a club meeting afterward.

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