loren Eric Swanson: Win, Build Send...Believe...Belong...Bless

Monday, February 05, 2007

Win, Build Send...Believe...Belong...Bless

At the last Global Learning Community, Geoffrey Hsu from San Diego had a very insightful comment on younger people's take on Win, Build and Send--basic Campus Crusade Strategy. Geoff says students today want something to believe a place to belong and someone to bless. Here is his expanded version. I couldn't get his diagrams downloaded so if you'd like a pdf version, contact Geoffrey at Geoffrey Hsu [geoff@thehsus.com].

Contextualizing Win Build and Send – A first pass by Geoffrey Hsu

This paper is an attempt to address some of the tensions that I feel when speaking about
Campus Crusade’s distinctive of Win, Build, Send. This paper is but an outline of ideas
that would take many more pages to develop fully. As a result, I’ll make statements that I
can’t defend fully here and might not make much sense. On the other hand, I hope for
many of you, much of this will appear intuitively true.

DNA, Mission and Strategy
In the conversation of what Campus Crusade’s DNA is, we are often presented with the
notion that Win, Build, Send best captures this sense of what or who we are. I, however,
am influenced by notion that Win, Build, Send is best considered an approach or a
strategy toward doing ministry1. As central as the approach has been to the tremendous
ways the Lord has used our ministry, and despite my fondness for this strategy, it seems
important to raise the question, “Is a particular strategy appropriate DNA material?”
It seems to me that a strategy or approach to anything must be largely situational. For
example, the writing is on the wall for traditional strategies of selling music. The
traditional strategy used to involve selling entire albums of music through traditional
brick and mortar stores. You can package a bunch of mediocre to lousy songs with one or
two hits and get a premium for selling the whole album.

With the advent of the Internet, mp3s and iTunes, an entirely different environment
emerged, necessitating a different approach. The most workable strategy to earn revenue
will no longer involve brick and mortar, but the sale of individual songs by download
over the Internet. There is no need to compare which approach is better. The question is
only, “Which approach is best suited toward its context?”
There is no question of how the Lord has blessed the win, build, send approach to doing
ministry. In fact there is something that feels exceptionally timeless about the approach.
However, I’m concerned that our environment has been and continues to change
radically. This is largely due to the shift in the underlying worldviews that have shaped
our understanding of the gospel, and our mission to the world as the body of Christ.
Do we want to defend and concretize our understanding of “who we are” around a timebound
and culture-bound strategy? Is our mission to preserve a strategy? I humbly
suggest we should not and to do so would be unfortunate.

I find it far more useful to return to a phrase that has shaped my understanding of our
mission. “Come Help Change the World” seems to capture for me the real mission of
Campus Crusade. It best captures the transformational nature of the gospel that I want to
be about. It reaches beyond a reductionistic gospel that is primarily interested in saving
souls and acknowledges a gospel that is able to transform lives, communities, cities and
social systems. It provides a guiding star for our discipleship, and it provides a metric for
our work. “Come Help Change the Word” is a mission.

I think our mission should shape strategy. We should not let a strategy shape our mission.
Having said that, I can’t throw out Win, Build, Send. I wouldn’t call it our DNA, but I
would say that as a strategy it is central to our sense of who we are. I don’t want to rid us
of Win, Build, Send, but rather to contextualize the approach so that it gets new life in this
new and radically different environment that we find ourselves ministering in today.

The Tension
In an increasingly postmodern world, Win, Build, Send feels very distinct, linear, and
sequential. In a modern world, the world in which Campus Crusade developed and
thrived -- separating, systematizing and quantifying was the right and normal way to
understand and do ministry. It made sense. It fit the context. But as the world around us changes, particularly the North American context that I’m in, our ways of being and doing ministry feel increasingly irrelevant to all but those deeply entrenched in our Christian subculture. For the culturally savvy evangelist, our “brick and mortar-ness” becomes more and more apparent each time we attempt to do evangelism.

Distinct and Narrow
Win, Build, Send feels too distinct. My Win activities are clearly defined and shape how I
relate to others. I approach people as lost. I treat them as non-believers. They are the
“world” that we should venture out into only for evangelistic safaris hoping to win some
to the Lord. We can hold this adversarial posture until they become believers. Until they
become believers, we hold them at arms length.

When they pray a prayer to accept Christ, they move into a new category, which dictates
a different sent of relations. Now we love them because we are Build-ing them. They are
one of us. They are “in” and need caring and nurturing. I’ve no objection to loving and
caring for new believers. My objection is that we have viewed Win, Build, Send as very
distinct categories such that my loving and nurturing posture is reserved for those who
have prayed a prayer, and not often applied to those who have yet to pray.
There is also a narrowness of our categories. When we talk of Win, I believe we are
talking about a narrow view of evangelism, which is primarily to get people to pray a
prayer. However, the gospel that will change the world must be a message that invades
and transforms every area of life and society. It will certainly include salvation, but it
must also be good news to the poor, oppressed and marginalized.

Furthermore, our tradition, for the most part, sees evangelism as primarily an event. Only
recently, with some resistance, have we begun to appreciate the dimension of the process.
A contextualized Win needs to embrace both the process and event of evangelism today.

Build needs to be more than simply training people to simply do ministry, but must
include a dimension of personal life transformation in the context of community.
Send must represent more than just more winning. The missionary nature of our faith is
not simply for the purpose of collecting more people into heaven. It is not to recruit more
into your organization. It must include a transformation of the communities and cities in
which we find ourselves.

Linear and Sequential
Win, Build, Send is also very linear. It suggests that you cannot really proceed in the
journey toward Christ with someone unless they first come to a certain intellectual
understanding of the atoning work of Jesus. The unspoken assumption has been that you
can’t really teach or disciple someone until a person makes an intellectual assent to a set
of propositions.

It is also assumed that you cannot really mobilize a person into kingdom work unless
they have reached a certain level of maturity in Christ. In the best Campus Crusade
tradition, we have placed people in points of service well beyond their abilities and watch
them grow through it. But often, our methodical and systematic approach toward building
requires certain competencies before moving someone along to the next point of service.
This linear nature of Win, Build, Send certainly prevents us from inviting non-believers to
join us in kingdom work. This is due in part to our nearsighted understanding of our
mission, but also to our sequential view of developing believers.

The Proposal
I would like to preserve the feel of Win, Build, Send, but introduce categories that might
be more useful to reach and minister to the pagan, postmodern world in which I find
myself in North America (though I think it will be a useful approach in other parts of the

I would like an approach toward ministry that understands evangelism as both a process
and an event. I need an approach that extends the generous loving posture of the
shepherd to those who have yet to “pray to receive Christ.” I want a gospel that is as
much good news to my community and city as it is to me personally.
My thought is to take the notions of Win, Build, Send, and translate them into three
“components” of healthy ministry. The similarity of these three components will be
apparent, but should not be considered sequential steps but constitutive elements of
healthy kingdom ministry.

Believe, Belong, and Bless
As we move into a new era of life and ministry, I think it will be more useful to use the
terms: Believe, Belong, and Bless. Believe shares the evangelistic thrust of Win. Healthy kingdom ministry by definition must include the bold proclamation of the gospel. Like Win, Believe concerns itself with the proclamation of the gospel.

The difference however lies in a couple of places. First, the evangelistic approach for
today’s lost has been written on extensively and I’ll not address it here. I think Ed
Stetzer’s Evangelism Journey provides helpful insights in viewing evangelism as both an
event and a process.2 Second, the content of this gospel must be more holistic. The gospel
of Jesus is certainly concerned with saving souls, but it is at least equally as concerned
with those who are hungry, abused, hungry and sick. The gospel of Believe recognizes
that our good news is both word and deed.

There is another reason to prefer Believe over Win. Win immediately frames the task of
evangelism as a contest of sorts. We can begin to view our task as a competition or a
debate where one cannot allow a happy coexistence. We must “win.” While the word
Believe might not be the best term, but was chosen because it is not combative and better
reflects the invitation to belief that one would expect from a God that does not force
himself upon us.

Belong roughly correlates with Build or the discipleship aspect of our work. Here we are
focusing on the spiritual formation and other developmental aspects of our faith. Belong
was chosen to reflect the importance of doing spiritual development in the context of
community (and, I confess, partly for the alliteration).

More importantly, discipleship must be more than a mere impartation and acquisition of
knowledge. We must return to a notion of discipleship that develops people into wellrounded
followers of Jesus who experience life transformation in the context of a
community of believers.

Bless is an attempt to capture the nature of the mission we are sent on. At times it felt as
though Send was too narrowly defined as go and make converts (as opposed to making
disciples). Or worse, Send was misunderstood as a command to go and create more staff.
Our strength of being a movement with its shared values, dreams, and commitments has
led us at times to a myopic view of our mission. This results in a focus on building our
own ministry or kingdom.

The gospel of Jesus was the arrival of the Kingdom of God. While the forgiveness of sins
and the salvation of souls is a central piece of this gospel, Jesus demonstrated a richness
to the gospel that we have lost. Jesus’ gospel demonstrated what God’s Kingdom, His
reign, would look like if the Lord’s Prayer was made operative in this world. “Thy
kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus showed us that the
good news was that poverty, oppression, and social injustices were also realms that the
gospel had the power to redeem.

To Bless, captures a fuller understanding of what Jesus’ disciples have been called to
participate in as his followers. The gospel that calls people to repentant of their sins, also
calls us to care for the sick, the hungry, the homeless, and the marginalized. It is the
gospel that Jesus modeled for us.
A “New Circle Diagram” (this is what didn't transfer)

What I find most useful about the Believe, Belong, Bless approach to ministry is that it
need not be linear and sequential, it allows for broader categories and allows for better
contextualization into various situations and cultures.

These benefits are more apparent if Believe, Belong, Bless were not placed on a line, but
drawn into a circle. This diagram better illustrates the many different “angles” that may
serve as entry points for people to enter into the discipleship of Jesus.
In many parts of the country and world where Christendom still has a foothold. It may
very well be that the best way to introduce people to Christ would be through traditional
means like the Four Spiritual Laws, evangelistic campaigns and the like. In environments
where rationalistic approaches are well received, our ministry would do well to use our
tried and true materials.

In postmodern contexts where claims to absolute truth do not inspire inquiry but suggest
intolerance, we intuitively seek a different approach. The Relational Incarnational
approaches to evangelism have recognized the importance of loving relationships that
function as bridges. They must be genuine or they will be sniffed out immediately.

Increasingly, the church has been renewing its understanding of service to the community
as a tangible means of expressing good deeds, which leads to good will, which open
doors for the good news.3 For many today, seeing the church once again return to a
posture of being a blessing to the world, is a powerful argument for Christ.
The point is that evangelism in different contexts, cultures, and with different people in
the same contexts, will require an approach from different directions. Or perhaps it is
best to say that we need to approach the task of evangelsim with some combination of all
three directions at the same time.

Final Thoughts
I’ve tried to take the best of Campus Crusade’s win, build, send tradition and update it for
the new postmodern time in which we find ourselves. I have only been able to capture
some of the larger thoughts and many are yet half-baked, but this is a work in progress. I
hope this may spur some thinking and if it does, please sharpen my thinking by sending
me an email at geoff@thehsus.com.

Subsequent versions of this paper will:
- Contain a discussion of Kingdom theology to shape our understanding of mission
- Apply a centered-set vs. bounded-set paradigm to evangelism and discipleship
- Discuss the three conversions: To Christ, To community, To mission
- Discuss the usefulness of this approach for cities


At Monday, February 05, 2007 1:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

E ~

This is a GOOD article. You know some smart people.

Thanks for the book reviews.

deb h

At Tuesday, February 06, 2007 4:55:00 AM, Anonymous Bobby D. Hopper said...

I am the author of the Nationally known book "Win, Build and Send". It is a Christian living book based upon the Great Commission. I think it may fall into your structure. Feel free to email me @ hopperbc@tds.net and check out the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble's websites.

At Wednesday, February 07, 2007 9:35:00 AM, Blogger Steve Van Diest said...


This is where we need to be. Send this on to the powers that be. we need a clear identity and right now we are missing it. This is where I want to live and serve. It is holistic. Thanks for posting it.

At Tuesday, February 12, 2008 5:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Yes, and Yes! somebody put some of the things I've wrestled with into writing, and far better than I would have done. I need a copy of this immediately! I have also heard somebody use three "E" words, Express was one of them. Anyone know any of the others?

At Wednesday, April 02, 2008 1:17:00 PM, Blogger Dan Didriksen said...

Alright, I've answered my own questions:


Kudos to the Univ. of Florida-CRU for this!

At Monday, March 09, 2009 11:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

enjoyed and also got what I was looking for .......Bobby D. Hoppers web site. I am in that very book. p.t. houston


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