Cru22 and Covid19

Cru22 was held in downtown Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Center

Jen and I were cautiously anticipating our trip to Milwaukee for Cru22 as it’s been 3 long years since the staff of Cru have convened together for a large staff gathering.

About a week before the conference, we started getting text messages and emails from friends telling us they were sorry that they wouldn’t be able to see us in Milwaukee and sharing their hopes and prayers that we would get better.

We were a bit confused until we realized that another Dave Lowe who is on staff with Cru (FamilyLife) had posted on a work forum that he was going to have to miss the conference due to having Covid. Our friends who saw that post had mistaken the other Dave Lowe for me.

I assured our friends and colleagues that the news of my demise had been greatly exaggerated and that we were indeed planning on attending this much-awaited event.

The “Bronze Fonz” is a popular Milwaukee tourist photo opp that was just minutes from our hotel. Are we dating ourselves by saying we grew up watching “Happy Days” before re-runs?

The mood and the atmosphere of the conference was much different than years past. 

Not only has it been several years since being together, but our location, which was the same for nearly 50 years, was completely different.

There have also been quite a number of leadership changes in the past two years. Cru has a new Global president (only the 3rd in our 70+ year history), a new U.S. Ministries Director, a new Campus Ministry Executive Director and a new City Executive Director (the division we work in).

Still, it was great to be together with friends and co-workers, many whom we haven’t seen either in person or even virtually for at least 3 years.

The emphasis was on revisiting our roots and reaffirming our calling, which is to help fulfill the Great Commission by Wining others to Christ, Building them up in their faith and then Sending them out to do likewise.

Jen shares a personal ministry story to our Cru Embark colleagues

We spent the first few days with our specific ministry where our leaders crystallized our unique calling and mission to 20-Somethings: to transition, holistically form and launch 20-Somethings to find their place in God’s story.

Jen had the opportunity to share a story about her friend Grace (whom we highlighted in last month’s letter) and how Jen has helped Grace to uncover some of her unique gifts and discover her passion and calling for ministry within the art community.

Our large group sessions took place at the nearby UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, adjacent to the Wisconsin Center.

As our conference shifted from smaller gatherings among the different Cru ministries to the large group sessions with all of our staff together, we started to get reports that people whom we had been in close contact with early in the conference had gotten sick and tested positive for Covid.

Sure enough, I (Dave) started feeling some mild cold-like symptoms after the first full day of large group sessions. As a precaution, we stayed in our hotel room the next day and watched the sessions online. 

We were able to watch many of the Cru22 sessions online from our hotel room.

We were able to secure a Covid test that next day and I tested negative. I assumed I just had a cold. Still, not wanting to get others sick, we isolated ourselves and finished out the conference by watching online in our hotel room.

While we were encouraged by the speakers and the different reports about how Cru ministries are reaching people around the world with the good news of Jesus, we were a bit bummed that we weren’t able to connect with as many of our friends and fellow Cru staff as we had expected.

After returning home, I suspected I might be developing a sinus infection, so I went to an Urgent Care where I took another Covid test. This time I tested positive. Jen then tested positive as well. 

Fortunately, our Covid symptoms were mild and never too serious. We’re glad to share that we’ve both recovered from our Covid experience, though perhaps I should’ve taken the work forum post from my namesake (Dave Lowe) more seriously!

As our summer winds down and we transition to the Fall, we would appreciate your continued prayers as we seek to transition, holistically form and launch 20-Somethings to find their place in God’s story!

LinkedIn, CBMC and Helping Young Adults Embark

I was recently invited to attend a quarterly breakfast for the Orange County Chapter of CBMC (Christian Businessman’s Connection). 

Marc Ottestad, the coordinator of the group, had connected with me via LinkedIn, thinking that our similar interests and passion for coaching, mentoring and seeing men make an impact for Jesus in their jobs might make for some natural opportunities to collaborate.

When I showed up at the breakfast, I noticed that most of the men were my age or even older. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how this breakfast might directly help me.

At one point, we were asked to shuffle tables to meet some new people and discuss what we heard from the speaker.

I found another table and ended up sitting next to the only guy in the room who was younger than 30.

I introduced myself to Alec and learned that he had recently graduated from Biola and was working at expanding a website business.

When Alec asked what I do, I shared that I help Young Professionals thrive spiritually and live with purpose.

Alec is a recent graduate of Biola University who is seeking biblical community while working to build and expand his website business.

I explained that my wife and I had spent many years ministering to college students but we made a shift in our ministry focus a few years ago because we had seen a void in Christian circles in serving the needs of Young adults, who are often struggling to find the kind of community and support that they need when they are undergoing the biggest changes and most stressful transitions of their life.

Alec’s response was both sad and affirming at the same time. He said, “you pretty much just summed up my current life situation.”

It’s sad that there seems to be so few resources and support for young professionals like Alec. I’ve spent many hours thinking through this issue, trying to determine why this is the case. 

My conclusions are not researched…they are just opinions, yet it makes sense to me.

If you think about it, most churches are built around a family model. Nearly every church serves the needs of families – from kids programs to youth events as well as support for parents and marriages.

This is an extremely good thing because, if you haven’t noticed, the traditional family unit, with biblical family values is under attack in our culture. The church may be the last bastion of hope to salvage a biblical understanding of the family unit.

But that same model works against Young Professionals, who are in a season where they have often left their family of origin and are yet to start a family of their own. They are in an in-between season of life – living on their own, learning to live as an adult with real-life responsibilities.

In this in-between phase, which is lasting longer for current 20-Somethings than it has for previous generations, they are looking for others like them with whom they can experience the struggles and transitions of becoming an adult.

Jen and I regularly connect with Young Adults who share their frustrations with attending churches where they struggle to find other Young Adults.

I have heard a number of church leaders tell me that a specific ministry meeting the needs of Young Adults is unnecessary. Citing the benefits of inter-generational worship and community, they contend that Young Adults should simply get involved in the life of the church,.

I believe this view is short-sighted. Research demonstrates that Young Professionals DO want mentors and they DO want to be involved in the life of the church. So in one sense, the idea of inter-generational worship and involvement makes sense. But a weekly men’s group cannot fill the void that’s lacking for many Young Adults – the need for a family-like experience with peers while they are in the season of single-ness.

We don’t have all the answers and we’re still learning best practices as we seek to minister to this audience. But we are seeking to fill the gap in various ways. 

After meeting Alec for lunch, I was able to connect him to a Leadership Development group that I recently launched. One of the guys in the group is also a Biola grad with whom Alec was acquainted. 

We’re also exploring the benefits of coaching. It may not meet all of Alec’s needs, but our hope is that it will provide a few missing elements that will help Alec, and others like him, to thrive spiritually and live with purpose during this season of life!