Movement Aim #2: Strategic Mobilization

By David Burns, CO Indianapolis

It is hard to believe that Campus Outreach has existed for 40 years. I love telling the story of how it all started, a few men and women with a commitment to God’s Word, prayer, and the promises of God. The heart of Frank Barker to see the gospel go forth. The conviction of Curtis Tanner to multiply his life. The sacrifice of Brian Lewis to live in his car for a semester while on staff at Montevallo. The strength of Sandra Herron to move to Carrollton, GA, in her first weeks of marriage without knowing a soul. We stand on the shoulders of great men and women of vision. I was not around in the earliest days but was reached and discipled because the commitment of Briarwood and the leadership. I write this brief article with much gratitude to God and to so many faithful laborers before me.

Over the last two years, the CO Directors have been working to clearly define CO’s movement priorities for the next five years. I have been asked to write about the need and importance of Strategic Mobilization. When asked what we do, we often share the four E’s. Evangelize, Establish, Equip, and Export. Our vision statement, “Glorifying God by Building Laborers on the Campus for the Lost World,” is a daily reminder of what we do and why we do it. We are not only building laborers on the campus for the campus. Our vision is much bigger, the World! Our prayer is always to reach the campus to reach the world!

In 1995, I was part of pioneering the ministry at Murray State University. The spring before we moved to Murray, five of us packed in a small Nissan Stanza and began visiting campuses in Kentucky & Tennessee. I still remember pulling up at 11pm to the MSU campus, my heart was pounding with excitement. We spent the next hour circling the campus, asking God to raise up laborers from the harvest (Matt 9:36-38). The next fall, we launched the ministry and God did an amazing work that continues today. There are hundreds of mobilized laborers all around the world today from MSU and the work continues. As the years have passed we have seen the need not only to mobilize equipped laborers, but to have strategic partners in churches, cities, regions, and countries.

Over the years CO Indianapolis has been sharpening our vision for mobilization and strengthening partnerships locally and abroad. Acts 1:8—“And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” has guided our vision for local, regional, and global impact.

CO Indianapolis has been committed to four places: our church, our city, our region, and SE Asia.

We are committed to our Church:

Eight years ago our hub church located in the suburbs of Indianapolis realized the 80+ percent of our alumni were moving to the city. To capitalize on the equipped laborers, we started a church in the city and hired a CO alumnus as pastor. The church has been growing and has at the core a commitment to evangelism and discipleship.

We are committed to our City:

Indianapolis is a city of 1.8 million people with all the amenities of a major city as well as the challenges of a bad school system and generational poverty. As a ministry we have been able to mobilize dozens and dozens of graduates into the inner city context, seeking to make a difference in the community. We have public school teachers, social workers, youth mentors, public safety offices, and so much more. We have many non-profits in the city who have employed our alumni. More and more alumni are moving to hard places to shine the light of Christ.

We are committed to our Region:

CO Indianapolis has a partnership with New City Church in Detroit, MI. Two former CO staffers are leading a church planting movement in Detroit, and we are sending equipped laborers each year to join the work. Our vision is to bless the church, city, and cultivate the relationship for future CO expansion.

We are committed to the World:

Ten years ago, through a personal relationship, CO Indianapolis decided to send a CCP team to SE Asia. It seemed like a big step at the time to go to a communist country. Since then, we have sent students every year upon graduation to take the gospel to people who have never heard. We are excited to expand our international partnerships through LEAD and other network opportunities.

Strategic Mobilization always begins with that first conversation in the dorm room, intramural field, Greek house, cafeteria, etc. One lesson I have learned in 24 years on staff, “there are no small conversations.” We never know what God may due through that student that we are sharing with, praying for, and investing in. Thank you for your faithful labors! Press on!

David Burns
COI Director