The Wondering Eagle Reviews the December 2017 and January 2018 Cru Winter Conferences. Some of the Speakers Include Jim Davis, Sam Allberry, Tim Muehlhoff, Kirk Brower, and D.A. Horton

The Wondering Eagle reviews all the Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) Winter conferences for 2017 and 2018. Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Denver have became healthier. Meanwhile Cru’s SE Winter Conference has some concerns which I explain in the post. 

“I’ve seen many friends makes bad choices in their 20’s. For some, regular partying quickly turned into alcoholism; for others, prescription drugs led them into dark places. For me it was religion.”

Mike Anderson formerly of the Resurgence at Mars Hill Seattle

“To experience true life, we must continue the Christian journey the same way we began it – by faith.”

Bill Bright

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
    indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
    you are from all eternity.

Psalm 93:1-2 NIV 

Video for the Winter Cru Conference in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

The Wondering Eagle is reviewing the Winter Conferences held by Cru for 2017 and early 2018. This is an annual event at this blog as this writer is concerned about the direction of certain aspects of Cru. I was involved in Cru both in Fresno State and I planted a Cru chapter with five other people at Marquette University in 2000 and 2001. I still have a number of deep friendships with people who were involved in Cru at Fresno State, Marquette University, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, of those I have met through conferences that I attended. While I believe Cru can be a positive and good experience, I am also deeply troubled that Cru is struggling with Neo-Calvinist fundamentalism. I am worried that Neo-Calvinism is being presented in ways that could be harmful or spiritually damaging. Especially if that is presented as the only way to have Christian faith. Cru in many ways is a hodgepodge of beliefs. I have heard of Cru chapters in the United States that really tote the Neo-Calvinist hard line and reinforce that with reading material from individuals like Matt Chandler, John Piper, David Platt and others. While I planted a Cru chapter and dedicated a number of years to my life in the organization after I moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to the Washington, D.C. area I learned that Cru is different in different locations, and thus my deep concern. Here in the Washington, D.C. area I am less than impressed with George Mason University Cru as led by Brett Miller. This Cru chapter is hardcore Neo-Calvinist and pushes its students to attend Redeeming Grace Fairfax (formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries [SGM] Fairfax) which is hemorrhaging stories of child sex abuse and other forms of spiritual abuse. These include situations where a father is allegedly molesting his own daughter and the SGM pastor tells the wife to put a lock on the door and to have more sex with her husband and not go to law enforcement. You can read he stories in “What Matt Larson, Anthem Thousand Oaks, Anthem Ventura, and Anthem Camarillo can Learn from Taylor, Noel and Sovereign Grace Fairfax/SGM “Family of Churches” The #MeToo movement needs to move into evangelical Christianity next. If that happens I would like George Mason Cru to be the point of discussion about issues regarding Cru. This post looks at all the Cru Winter Conferences and gives the thumbs up or why I do not recommend the individual conference. For greater context you can compare this post with previous posts to see a track record with certain conferences. The two previous posts are down below. 

  1. “A Comprehensive Overview of Cru’s Winter Conferences for December 2015/January 2016 … Paul Tripp, Curtis Allen, Kenji Adachi and Scott Nickell are Some of the Speakers”
  2. “Cru Winter Conference Review 2016-2017: David Platt, Matt Smethurst, Jackson Crum and J.D. Greear are Some of the Main Speakers


Winter Conference – Baltimore, MD

The Winter Conference in Baltimore is being held from December 28, 2017 until January 1, 2018. It is for Cru students in the mid-Atlantic region meaning that students from Virginia, West Virginia, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware and New Jersey. Some of the schools that attend this conference are Virginia Tech, George Mason, University of West Virginia, Penn State, and Rutgers to give you a sampling. To see how a campus chapter can promote it I will use Brett Miller’s George Mason Cru which you can see right here.

The speakers for the Baltimore conference are Sam Allberry, Daryl Smith, Mark Hough, and Nicole Lewis. Here is some background on each speaker and any issues I find as I research them on social media. Sam Allberry is a pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Maidenhead, United Kingdom. He is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and works for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Sam also deals with same sex attraction and speaks and talks about it. He has published “Is God Anti-Gay” in 2013. Daryl Smith is the National Director of Cru’s high school ministry. Previously he served as the Cru Director in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the Southeast Regional Director. He has served on staff with Cru since 1996. Mark Hough joined with Cru in 2006. They were on staff with Cru at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania for five years. Mark graduated from Penn State as well as the University of Oregon. Mark is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary. He is currently on staff with West Chester Cru and he also does high school ministry at Providence Church in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The last speaker is Nicole Lewis who is based out of London and works for International Cru staff. Nicole Lewis began her career with Cru in 1996 when she graduated from Oregon State University. She spent several years working on Cru staff at the University of Washington. Afterward she spent ten years in Florence, Italy working as the campus director at the University of Florence. She then went back to the Pacific Northwest to work for the Northwest Regional Global Missions Team for four years while based in Portland, Oregon. In 2016 Nicole moved to the United Kingdom to work with Agape UK and to serve as the Associate Student Director for the UK. She works with Cru in London. After the way the Baltimore conference was in the past two years I am encouraged. I will explain why down below, but let’s look at the next Cru conference.


Encounter – Greensboro, NC 

Encounter is the winter conference for Cru for students from Tennessee, Kentucky and North and South Carolina. Its being held at the Sheraton in Greensboro from December 28 until January 1, 2018. The speakers and worship leaders include the following individuals: Leonce Crump Jr, Matt Papa, Andy Mineo, K.A. Ellis, Claude Hickman, Paul David Trip, and Thomas Weakley. I do not know what the theme of the conference is, and I poked around and checked various parts of social media.

The first speaker is Leonce Crump Jr. Leonce Crump Jr wrote the bookRenovate: Changing Who You Are by Loving Where You Are.” The forward is by Matt Chandler. Leonce is the senior pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta, Georgia, which is Acts 29. Leonce is a former professional football played having played for the New Orleans Saints. Leonce is currently obtaining his Masters of Divinity. Matt Papa who is a worship leader is also at this conference. Andy Mineo is a recording artist who does a lot of hip hop. K.A. Ellis is a writer on theology and human right, African-Americans, understanding Islam, and the persecuted church. She writes at Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition . K.A. holds an MFA from Yale University and Master of Art in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary. Currently she is a doctoral candidate at Oxford Center for Missions Studies at Oxford. She writes a blog you can read here. Claude Hickman is the Executive Director of The Traveling Team. The Traveling Team describes itself as a missions conference on wheels aiming to hit campuses on all 50 states. Claude went to Dallas Theological Seminary. Paul David Tripp is a well known Neo-Calvinist speaker. The next speaker is Paul Tripp, who leads Paul Tripp Ministries. Paul Tripp is known for pastoral counseling. He was also involved in Mars Hill Seattle and served on the Church Board of Advisors and Accountability before he resigned in July 2014. However there is also a lot of controversy about Paul Tripp’s departure from Mars Hill according to Warren Throckmorton. You can read more about Paul Trip’s involvement in Mars Hill here and here. Plus, I personally like the questions Rob Smith asks in this post here. One thing that was good about Paul Tripp is when Tulian Tchvidjian engaged in extra marital affairs Paul Tripp was the one individual that told him that he needed to repent and clean things up. You can read that blog post here.  The final speaker is Dr. Thomas Weakley. He joined Cru staff at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in 1982 and has served as the team leader since 1985. He coaches Cru movements at the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, and the University of Tennessee. Weakley earned his doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and has worked as an adjunct professor at WKU. He has also taught at Lindsey Wilson and SBTS. Dr. Weakley has spoken at conferences in Europe and Asia. The Encounter conference I have deep concerns about and do not recommend people attend this one, I will explain more down below. 


Southeast Winter Conference – Atlanta, GA

The Southeast Winter Conference is being held at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel from December 28 until December 31, 2017. This conference is for college students from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  I do not know what the theme of the conference is. But the main speakers or individuals are Trip Lee, Vivian Mabuni, and Jim Davis. Trip Lee is a pastor in Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been doing rapping since the age of 12. He helped found a Christian hip-hop collective 116 Clique in 2005. He has also published tow books “The Good Life” and “Rise.” Vivian Mabuni has served with Cru for 27 years and currently serves with the Epic National Executive Team. Epic is the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Jim Davis comes from Grace Bible Church in Oxford, Mississippi. Grace Bible is a 9 Marks church. Jim grew up in Orlando, Florida and he graduated from Florida State University. He spent 9 years on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, with 5 years in Italy and 4 years working at Mississippi State University. He is currently working on a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary from Orlando. This conference gives me concerns and I do not recommend people should attend this event. I will explain more in the comments below. 


Indy CC – Indianapolis, IN

The winter conference in Indianapolis is in the downtown Marriott from December 28 until January 1. This conference is for college students in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. The speaking line up includes Jake Abraham, Candice Siewert, James White and Mike Donehey. Jake Abraham is from India and raised in the Philippines. He served with Cru in India, Australia, and the United States. He is one of the executive directors of Cru’s City Ministry and is currently moving to Washington, D.C. Candiece Siewert as I recall used to speak to TCX when I attended. Candice earned her BST from Minnesota State Mankato where she got her Physical Education and Coaching. She also obtained a Masters of Arts in Christian Education from Bethel Theological Seminary.  James White is the Pastor of Christ Our King Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. James went to Howard University in Washington, D.C. You can read about James in this Raleigh News and Observer article. The last person at the event is Mike Donehey. Mike is one of the singers for the band Tenth Avenue North. He is both singing and speaking at this winter conference. This conference is fine and The Wondering Eagle recommends it. 


Twin Cities Experience (TCX) Minneapolis, MN

The Cru Winter conference in Minneapolis is known as TCX. It is for Cru students in North and South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It will be held from December 28 until January 1, 2018 at the Minneapolis Hilton. The speakers for this conference are D.A. Horton, Laurel Bunker and Nick Hall. Here is a break down of each speaker. 

D.A. Horton is a Neo-Calvinist member of the Southern Baptist Convention. He lives in Los Angeles, California where he planted Reach Fellowship Church. He is the national coordinator of Urban Student Missions for the North American Missions Board. Horton pastored in Kansas City, Missouri for six years. His bachelor degree is in Biblical Studies at Calvary Bible College. His masters is in Christian studies from Calvary Theological Seminary. He is working on his PhD in applied theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Horton has written several books to include “Bound to be Free“, “Letters of the Revelation“,”G.O.S.P.E.L“,”Enter the Ring” and “DNA Foundations of Faith.”  You can read what Trevin Wax has to say about D.A. Horton here. Laurel Bunker is the Dean of Campus Ministries at Bethel University in St. Paul.She has held key positions in YMCA and Young Life. Nick Hall is the final speaker it appears. Nick Hall who created and led Together 2016 here in the Washington, D.C. area. I wrote about Together 2016 in “1968 vs. 2016 and Against Conflict and Uncertainty Together 2016 is Held in Washington, D.C.” Nick is the chief communicator for PULSE and he and his wife today live in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. While I have concerns about D.A. Horton, especially as he is into Neo-Calvinism I am encouraged that he is balanced with other individuals. For 2017 this conference doesn’t worry me as much. 


Denver Christmas Conference – Denver, CO

 The Cru Winter conference in Denver is at the Hyatt Regency and held from December 28, 2017 until January 2, 2018. This conference is for college students from Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado. There are three speakers on the line-up and they are Jackie Hill-Perry, Dan Allen, and Propaganda. Jackie Hill-Perry. Jackie Hill-Perry writes for Desiring God, The Washington Times, 700 Club, and The Gospel Coalition. She writes about how she was saved from homosexuality. You can read her love letter to a lesbian here. She writes a lot of poetry as well. Dan Allen  has been on staff with Cru since 1990. He holds a B.A in accounting from the University of Missouri and a MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Dan went to Romania shortly after the Romanian revolution in 1989. He has worked in Cru at the University of Missouri, then the St. Louis area before he moved to California. Propaganda is a poet, political activist and does Christian hip-hop. He also is speaking and probably doing a performance or two at Denver’s Winter Conference. Despite a slight concern The Wondering Eagle finds this year’s Winter Conference a step up from the previous two years. Its not as Neo-Calvinist and more balanced. 


Winter Conference – Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

This Winter Conference is being held at the Omni Fort Worth from January 1, 2018 until January 5. This conference is for college students in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The speakers at this event are Trip Lee, Vivan Mabuni, Rich Perez, David Daniels and Kari Kennedy. Here is a look at the speakers. Trip Lee is a pastor in Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been doing rapping since the age of 12. He helped found a Christian hip-hop collective 116 Clique in 2005. He has also published tow books “The Good Life” and “Rise.” Vivian Mabuni has served with Cru for 27 years and currently serves with the Epic National Executive Team. Epic is the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Rich Perez studied film at The City College of New York. He also studied Biblical theology at Elim Institute Rich spends a lot of time speaking about family, faith and Hispanic-American culture. He recently published “Mi Case Uptown: Learning to Love Again.” Christ Crucified Fellowship in New York City was planted by Rich and he serves as the Senior Pastor. David Daniels is the Lead Pastor of Pantego Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Dave has a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a M.D. from Denver Seminary and a D.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary.  Beta Upsilon Chi (Brother Under Christ) was co-founded by Dave. He has done a number of short term missions in Cuba, India, United Arab Emirates, Burundi. Rwanda, Ethiopia, China, Spain, Russia and the Ukraine. Dave has published “Next Step Discipleship: The Christian Handbook for Walking the Pathway to Missional Living” and “Next Step Church: A Pastor’s Handbook for Leading their People Along the Pathway to Missional Living.” Dave calls Arlington, Texas home. The final speaker is Kari Kennedy. Kari comes from Bossier City, Louisiana and graduated from Louisiana State University. Kari worked with Cru in Texas and Oklahoma. Kari did a STINT in Ethiopia and also worked with the Jesus Film Project. Today she calls Atlanta her home. The Wondering Eagle has no concerns about the Winter Conference in Dallas/Fort Worth and recommends it. 

Northwest Cru Conference – Portland, OR

The Portland Winter Conference occurs in the Doubletree by Hilton in Portland, Oregon from December 28, 2017 until January 1, 2018. This conference is for college students in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Idaho. The speakers at the event are Kirk Brower, Michelle Jones, and Jonathan Gibo. Kirk was involved in Cru in college and worked on staff at the University of Idaho for nearly 17 years. Kirk became the senior pastor of Bridge Bible Fellowship in Moscow, Idaho. Kirk is married to Jill and they have four kids. Michelle Jones is a pastor at Imago Dei Community Church in Portland, Oregon. Michelle a writer and you can follow her work in her blog which you can access here. In her past she helped write sitcoms which include “In the House”,”Parent Hood” and “In Living Color.” The final speaker is Jonathan Gibo is the Director of Global Missions Mobilization for Cru on the West Coast. Jonathan was born and raised in Southern California. His focus and passion is in missions work. He also enjoys basketball, golf and movies such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. The Wondering Eagle has no concerns about this Winter Conference. 

Radiate Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA

The Cru Winter conference for Los Angeles takes place at the Los Angeles Marriott at the Burbank airport on January 12 until January 15, 2018. This conference is for college students in California, Arizona, and Hawaii. The speakers are Adam Edgerly, James Choung, Aziz Moris, Vivan Mabuni, and Tim Muehlhoff. Here is the breakdown of who these people are.  Adam Edgerly is the CEO of Culture Consultants. He holds an M.A. from intercultural studies from Biola University and a Masters of Business Administration from Emory University. Adam is the lead pastor of Newsong Los Angeles Covenant Church. Prior to that he served in the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination. The Evangelical Covenant Church has similar roots to the Evangelical Free Church of America. James Choung is the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He has published “Real Life: A Christianity Worth Living Out” and “True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In.” In IVCF James oversees evangelism, discipleship, planting, growth, missions and multi ethnic initiatives. He is ordained with Vineyard USA, and served on the pastoral staff of a Boston area urban church, and a megachurch in Seoul. Aziz Moris is involved with Cru in Egypt. He was a student with Cru in 1993 and joined staff afterward. Today he spearheads Cru’s North Africa Middle East (NAME region which overseas evangelism in 19 counties in the North Africa, and Middle East area.  Vivian Mabuni has served with Cru for 27 years and currently serves with the Epic National Executive Team. Epic is the Asian-American ministry of Cru. The final speaker is Tim Muehlhoff. Tim has been on staff with Cru for 30 years. He has a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tim teaches at Biola in Los Angeles, California where he teaches about gender, conflict resolution, apologetics and family communications. He has written numerous books to include “Winsome Persuasion: Christian Influence in a Post Christian World“,” Authentic Communication: Christian Speech Engaging Culture“,”I Beg to Differ: Navigating the Difficult Conversations with Truth and Love”, “The God Conversation: Using Stories and Illustrations to Explain Your Faith” and “Marriage Forecasting: Changing the Climate of your Relationship One Conversation at a Time.” He also does a lot of work for Focus on the Family. Radiate as a conference is not bad and The Wondering Eagle holds no reservations about this Cru event.


Minneapolis, Denver, Baltimore Have Improved… While SE in Atlanta, and Encounter Greensboro Should be Avoided

Three Cru Winter Conferences have actually improved in content and theological health. Baltimore has become healthier in the view of The Wondering Eagle. Its less Neo-Calvinist, much more balanced and more solid. In the past Baltimore featured people like Kenji Adachi, who is with Acts 29 today. You can read an open letter I wrote Kenji here. Likewise Denver also appears to have improved substantially. The past couple of years they had Scott Irons from Flatirons Church speak. Flatirons is hard core Neo-Calvinist. This writer is greatly relieved that the agenda has become more balanced. Also Minneapolis has improved. A couple of years ago TCX had Bob Thune from Acts 29 Coram Deo Church in Nebraska. When I saw that I was puzzled and asked why would Cru have someone from Acts 29 speak? After all Acts 29 has such a narrow view of para-church ministry that the organization doesn’t believe they should exist. It goes back to how they view the “local church.” But why would Cru have such a person speak? For Cru to have someone from Acts 29 (or 9 Marks for that matter) speak is akin to someone who is Jewish in 1930’s Germany voting for the National Socialists. Knowing what happened why would you vote for your extinction? 

The one conference that The Wondering Eagle is discouraging people from attending is Southeast Winter Conference. This blog is deeply concerned that Cru is putting a 9 Marks pastor front and center. Why do that? Especially with what 9 Marks believes about para-church ministries. I wrote about this topic in “Garrett Kell, the Role Campus Crusade for Christ Played in his Coming to the Christian Faith; Plus the 9 Marks Elephant Standing in the Corner.” If organizations like 9 Marks believe that Cru should not exist as it competes with the local church, then why is Jim Davis speaking? As I said in the previous paragraph isn’t that like someone who is Jewish voting for the National Socialists in Germany in the 1930’s? Whoever put together  SE Winter Conference has some substantial problems with discernment and critical thinking skills. Or they are Neo-Calvinist and have an agenda. To read more about Jim Davis I wrote an article about what Davis believes about college students and church membership. That article is called, “Responding to Jim Davis of 9 Marks Grace Bible Church in Oxford, Mississippi on College Students and Church Membership” When it comes to Greensboro Encounter The Wondering Eagle is concerned about Acts 29 being promoted. Paul Tripp should have come clean about the issues in Mars Hill Seattle and Mark Driscoll. That is also problematic. But my main concern is Acts 29 being put promoted. That is the reason why Greensboro is not being recommended this year. That is an overview of all the Winter Cru conferences being held in December 2017 and January 2018. If there are problems or issues and you would like to write about it or explain your experience The Wondering Eagle will give you a platform. Have a great day, and Cru I love you guys!


One thought on “The Wondering Eagle Reviews the December 2017 and January 2018 Cru Winter Conferences. Some of the Speakers Include Jim Davis, Sam Allberry, Tim Muehlhoff, Kirk Brower, and D.A. Horton

  1. To me, it will ALWAYS be Campus Crusade or CCC.
    “Cru” is just Trendy Textspeak, and nothing gets old-fashioned faster than over-relevance.

    In my experience (Cal Poly Pomona in the Seventies) Campus Crusade chapters could vary widely in attitude from one campus chapter to the next. For instance, when it came to FRP gaming (Dee & Dee), the Cal Poly Pomona chapter had no problem with it (I first learned about the LARP “Killer” from a staffer there) but the Cal State Fullerton chapter at the other end of Brea Canyon was in a state of constant Holy War against the Satanic Occultism of D&D, to the point the gaming club there had to screen new members for “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing” infiltrators.

    Though one thing constant in all Campus Crusades was the pressure for Making Converts to the point of bait-and-switch advertising of CCC-sponsored events and high-pressure salesmanship training. I was NOT surprised when I found out much later that Bill Bright had started out in Sales & Marketing.


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