Every Story Matters to God by Ken Cochrum
Explore with me two big ideas that form the foundation of the theology behind our technology.
Big Idea 1: Equipping 10 Million Disciples to Reach 5 Billion
Where do these large numbers come from? First, we believe that behind every screen is a person with a name. Every name has a story God is writing. In 2010 our organization asked: Where are the remaining people, in what cities and nations, who need to be reached in order to fulfill the Lord Jesus’ great commission? More than 50 missions organizations and church denominations around the world partnered with us in this research.
Here’s what we discovered. Of about 7.5 billion people on the earth today, roughly 2.5 billion claim to follow Jesus Christ. That leaves about 5 billion who don’t know Christ. Extensive global research conducted in 2013, 2015 and 2017 indicates that only 46% of people know a true follower of Jesus. What if, together with all our partners, we could help equip and mobilize two multiplying disciples for every 1,000 people? These disciples would reach out to their family, friends, and workplace colleagues. That would require about 10 million multiplying disciples, or 2 per 1,000, to have a realistic chance to do the work among 5 billion. The great news is that the vast majority of these disciples already live among the people who need Jesus. 10 million reaching out to 5 billion people in their relational networks is possible.
Big Idea 2: Known and Moving
When we formally launched Digital Strategies in 2013, we needed to ensure that our technology was grounded in solid theology. There are so many trends and marketing approaches that come and go. Some of these seek to manipulate people. But “we are not like many, peddling the Word of God,” as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:17, “but as from sincerity, as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”
We chose to anchor and architect all of our digital products and services around the verses central to our calling, Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus, with all authority, commands us to go and make disciples among all nations. Among the 5 billion. He told us two specific ways to do that: to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and to teach them to obey all he commanded. Baptism is a one-time event. Teaching to obey is about ongoing life-change.
Baptize means “to dip.” It is about a change in IDENTITY. In the New Testament, people who heard the good news and wanted to follow Jesus came forward, raised their hand, or in some other way communicated, “Hey, I’m here, and I want to follow this man.” Some of them immediately got baptized, publicly identifying themselves as a new follower. Others may have waited to get baptized. They may have lingered on the fringes of the crowd and listened to Jesus several times before being convinced.
By identifying themselves, they became KNOWN. In Cru’s Digital Strategies, a person is KNOWN when they use an app or a website to tell us their name, contact information, and something about themselves.
In personal ministry, we teach people to obey Jesus, to take the next step of faith with him. We journey together with them in following Jesus. On this journey, their life changes. In theological terms, God working in people to move them to obedience is called sanctification. It’s an ongoing process. In Digital Strategies we call this process MOVING. As in face-to-face ministry, we want to help someone we meet to take the next step of faith as a follower of Christ. Maybe it’s to pray and receive Jesus. Or join a small group Bible study. Or deal with unconfessed sin. Or pray for a neighbor or a nation. Or go on a mission trip. Or share Christ with a friend. Whatever the step, we want to journey together with them in following Jesus.
We use digital tools to help KNOW and MOVE people closer to Jesus. Not only one-on-one but at great scale and scope. Our prayer is that God will use these digital tools for His glory to help mobilize millions of believers to touch 5 billion who don’t know Christ.
Every number has a name. Every name has a story. Every story matters to God.
Shoulder to shoulder with you in the mission,
VP, Global Digital Strategies, Cru Global Advancement
Ken began wholeheartedly following Jesus during his second year as a mechanical engineering student at the University of Texas. After graduation, God led him on staff with a passion to disciple men and build spiritual movements. Ken holds a Masters degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from Bethel Seminary. He served as campus director, regional director and national campus director of Asia Impact before returning to the United States in 2007 to serve with Cru’s Global Executive team. Ken is passionate about the Great Commission and that Christ would be glorified in the places He is not yet known. His heart beats with a desire to worship Jesus as he serves and strengthens His leaders around the world.
Ken and his wife Ann have invested the majority of their 30 years on Cru staff in helping grow student-led movements. In 2010, they agreed to give leadership to Cru’s Global Digital Strategies to accelerate the use of digital strategies throughout the organization. Ken believes that the digital realm is the key to helping fulfill the prophecy from Habakkuk 2:14, which says, “For the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” To that end, in 2013 Ken co-founded Indigitous, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies.
Ken currently serves as Vice President for Cru’s Global Digital Strategies. Ken and Ann have two children, Travis and Amy, who serve Christ in the marketplace. In 2013, Ken published a book on 21st-century global leadership titled CLOSE: Leading Well Across Distance and Cultures. Ken blogs regularly at On Leading Well.