Thursday, December 26, 2013



Pitons are tools used in rock climbing to anchor the rope as a climber goes higher and higher off the ground. Pitons are placed by pounding the metal into cracks in the rock. At a recent CCO training, Francois and Joy each received a piton from our staff as a thank you for our work of propelling the ministry of XD into higher places.

These pictures are not mistakes. Nor are they the latest in snail mail openers. They are engraved Charlet Moser pitons made in Chamonix, France in 1970's.

It was a moving gesture because Chamonix has come to mean a lot to me (Francois) in our work these last few years and because it reminded me of another meaningful piton I have. Soon after I started with the CCO 14 years ago, I went on my first lead climb with some CCO staff. 
(Technical interlude)
Lead climbing is contrasted to top rope climbing by where the anchor is in relationship to the climber. In a top rope climb (below, left) the anchor is above the climber, thus upon falling the climber will only drop the distance that the rope stretches when fully weighted. But in lead climbing (below, right), the anchor (or protection) is below the climber which means when the climber falls, they will travel twice the distance between them and the anchor plus the stretch of the rope! You can imagine the danger and fear factor is much greater in lead climbing.


(Technical interlude over)
Being the lead climber is sometimes called being on the sharp end of the rope (some of you may recognize this term as the name of our blog). Joy and I really got to know each other by climbing together on our days off away from students. So when we got engaged, I tied the ring to a wire statue of two climbers on lead to signify the trust our continued adventures together would require. 
Last month we learned that our adventures will take on an additional responsibility as we are looking to welcome a new member into our family this spring.
It is with excitement and a bit of trepidation that we are sharing this news. We are blessed by God's gift of another child and we are pushed to trust in his providence for our family through folks like you. God has provided some amazing gifts this year and we are grateful. If you are the praying type, please keep Joy and the baby, due in late May, in your prayers.

Francois and Joy

Why we do what we do?

Why We Do Campus Ministry from CCO Campus Ministry on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Reports from Faith and Work 2.0

 We had a great time of learning and fellowship last weekend with some fantastic participants. Throughout the internets, reports are coming in about the weekend. Here is a review from PNC Park architect, David Griesel, in Fieldnotes Magazine and another from artist Scott Erickson. 

Gideon Strauss, executive director of the Depree Leadership Center, also has a couple articles in Fieldnotes Magazine in Part One:
 and Part Two:

Lisa Slayton, President of Serving Leaders, the host of the Faith and Work 2.0, reflects on the conference:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Faith and Work 2.0

Last winter when I (Francois) led Crossings, the CCO XD trip for college seniors, I invited Katie Tarara from Serving Leaders to join the instructor team. During our time with the students, Katie, a CCO alumni, shared with the group some of the great tools Serving Leaders uses in its work with professionals seeking to be faithful in their vocation. What a unique and rich opportunity it was for the students!

During the trip Katie and I had several conversations about the role of experiential learning in leadership development and how XD and Serving Leaders might collaborate in the future. Little did we know that an opportunity was right around the corner!

While Katie has moved on from Serving Leaders (and my brother-in-law has taken her place!), XD was asked a few months ago if we would help them design an experiential conference around the theme of integrating work and faith. Sean Purcell and I took on the project and we have really enjoyed working with Serving Leaders' Lisa Slayton and Rick Wellock to create Faith and Work 2.0: Moving From Theory to Practice, a unique working conference that opens tomorrow in Pittsburgh.

Attending the conference will be some great thought leaders and practitioners from around the country representing various industries: finance, design, manufacturing, and entrepreneurship. The conference is designed to offer deeper conversations between lead practitioners and conference participants looking to wrestle with what the Gospel might mean for their work.  You can check out the schedule and if you are around the area, please come join us. Registration is online or in person.

Traveling Family

We are back in Pittsburgh after many miles of travel this summer. And, we are excited to fill you in on all the great stories we have of the good work of which we are so privileged to be a part.

The summer started as Joy and two other XD staff led an overnight retreat for 20 CCO staff who were finishing their 1st year in ministry. They created some exercises to help the staff put some words to the successes and challenges they experienced during the year on campus as well as to articulate some goals as they look ahead to next school year. Here are two goals captured on the post-its around the room.

goal 1goal 2

The participants describe one take-away from the retreat as: "There is nothing back on the boat".  Just as Peter stepped out onto the water to walk towards Jesus, we also have the promise that Jesus is there to sustain us as we step out in faith. This kind of bold faith is evident in our campus staff. They are constantly challenged to be grounded in their relationship with Jesus as they serve their campuses. There is a beautiful dynamic at work as our staff submit their lives to be transformed by Christ's love that their ministries exude that love more vividly.

There is more to come! Stay tuned for more stories. Thanks for your love and prayers.

Francois and Joy

p.s. Lots of folks ask how Annelise does on our trips. She is a natural-born traveler. She has her 2 year old moments which are to be expected, but she also carries on conversations with anyone and everyone. Her favorite memories are the merry-go-rounds and swimming in the pool. She discovered her love for olives on this trip! Funny kid.

Milestones in Ministry

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CCO Logo CCO Ministry of Francois and Joy Guilleux with Experiential Designs

Summer 2013 | Milestones in Ministry

We continue our summer stories with the first installment of stories from Summer Institute, the CCO's yearly training week at Robert Morris University. Francois and Sean Purcell taught a day long class on Situational Leadership for CCO staff completing their first year. This is the same group whom Joy facilitated in June for their end of the year retreat. We were excited for our department to contribute more formally to the CCO's training curriculum.
A much more important event at Summer Institute was the yearly Honoring Banquet where milestones in service are recognized. This year Joy was honored for her 15 years of ministry with the CCO. Like Ebenezer stones for the Israelites, such moments of recognition help us remember God's faithfulness in our lives. We were especially moved by the way God offered for those 15 years to be celebrated. 
Many of you know that Joy's back problems have made it difficult for her to do much adventure activities during these past five years. The result of years of carrying too heavy a backpack while leading students on mountains around the US has taken a severe toll on her body. Yet this spring as a result of the restorative yoga practice of our neighbor and former CCO staff, Katrina Woodworth, Joy began seeing some incredible improvements. Not wanting to get her hopes dashed, she faithfully pursued her exercise regimen as well as continued chiropractic therapy with another strong supporter of our ministry. By mid-spring we were talking as if she could actually be an instructor on the mountaineering staff training we were planning for summer. As the trip approached two other issues needed to be resolved for her to be able to go into the field. One, after six years in the closet, her outdoor gear needed some serious updating; and two, we needed someone to watch Annelise for nine days. The first problem was resolved through the kinds of surprising coincidences that we can only attribute to God's faithfulness. For pennies on the dollar we were able to outfit Joy with the kind of  professional grade gear she needed. The second was overcome when our friends, the Bilchers who now live in Idaho just a couple hours from where our training was going to be held, agreed to watch Annelise while we were both in the field. So Joy found herself laughing and crying at God's numerous gifts (generosity and faithfulness) as she stood at the Trail Lake trail head ready to shoulder her pack and lead the CCO's XD staff into the Wind River Mountains. It had been nine years since she had been to this place as instructor and 17 since she as a student had first encountered this area which would become a place where God would reveal himself powerfully and shape her to minister to college students. 
Stay tuned for stories from our time with 11 CCO staff in Wyoming. Today we ask that you would join us in praising God for his faithfulness over the 15 years of ministry and particularly evident in Joy's life this spring and summer. Whether you recognize it or not, you have also been part of God's faithfulness to our family and ministry. Your prayers and contributions are constant reminders of God's love and faithfulness. Thank you for your commitments over the years.

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New students are back!

What do we do to make a college orientation hit a home run? It's not the number of free hot dogs or sundae bars... although that helps. It begins by training student leaders. They are key to helping freshmen transition into their new school.

Once trained, these student leaders guide the freshmen through orientation activities and discussions that get them thinking about big questions regarding  success in college:
  • Who am I?
  • Where am I going?
  • What company will I keep?
  • How do I get there?
This is what Francois did when he spent three days training the RA's of Lancaster Bible College to facilitate the freshmen during their orientation weekend. It was a fantastic time where students wrestled with stepping up to the challenge of being the leaders God asked them to be. Josh Beers, the VP of Student Enrollment at the college, had this to say about the training:

"I have not seen such transformation among the students in the first three days of this retreat in the last seven years as I did this year."

To read a student's perspective and a college president's reflection, visit our blog.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

They're baaaaack!

It's orientation time again! 
West Virginia Wesleyan College Bobcat Outdoor
Orientation Trip (BOOT) 

While CCO staff were preparing to welcome students back onto campus, XD resource staff were criss-crossing the tri-state area in a record number (for us, at least) of orientation events.  We know anecdotally and through research that orientation experiences can be key in setting the tone for students' college experience. They have gotten even more interest with demonstrated links to college retention. It is a privilege for us to have colleges entrust that experience to us.

Let me share a story of one of the many events XD staff facilitated this month as an example.  

A small college in Pennsylvania approached us this spring for help thinking about  the way new students transitioned into the school. After sharing the model for orientations we have been using over these past few years, they invited us to redesign their Weekend Of Welcome (WOW). 

The model we are currently using is built on the work of Steve Garber found in his book, The Fabric of Faithfulness, where he describes his research with professionals on how they maintained a relevant faith after college and Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton's seminal book on worldviews, The Transforming Vision. During the three or four days of orientation, the freshmen as guided by student leaders through activities and discussions that get them thinking about the following big questions about success in college:
  • Who am I?
  • Where am I going?
  • What company will I keep?
  • How do I get there?
So a couple weeks ago, Paul Harbison and I spent three days training the RA's to facilitate the freshmen during the weekend. It was a fantastic time where students had to wrestle with stepping up to the challenge of being the leaders God asked them to be. Josh Beers, the VP of Student Enrollment at Lancaster Bible College, had this to say about the training:
"I have not seen such transformation among the students in the first three days of this retreat in the last seven years as I did this year."
Lancaster Bible College student leader debrief

Paul returned the following week to lend support to the student leaders as they facilitated the Weekend Of Welcome for 250 freshmen. The event was a huge success and below is a letter from a LBC staff about the fruit from that weekend: 

"I just wanted to share with you some statements shared with me today by a new student. I applaud your successful efforts and praise the Lord, for without Him, we would not hear these kinds of remarks:
'I planned to be guarded with all the new people when I got to campus. But, I have never had so many people intentionally reach out to get to know me. I love this place! This is what I have wanted all of my life – a place where I am accepted and people care about me. I have never had that in my life. I feel like a turtle out if its shell. I plan to make the most of every opportunity here.'

Praise God!
Below is a list of the orientation events and their staffing:
  • Geneva College Trek.  August 6th-10th. Patrick Emery and Jamie Zackavitch.
  • Allegheny College Student Leader Training. August 9th. Steph Wessel and Adrienne Willhoft.
  • Allegheny College Pre-Orientation. August 11th. Adrienne Willhoft.
  • Lancaster Bible College RA retreat and student leader training. August 12th-14th. Paul Harbison and Francois Guilleux.
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College Student Leader Training. August 13th. Kelly Ozelski.
  • West Virginia Bobcat Outdoor Orientation Trip (BOOT). August 14th-16th. Kelly Ozelski, Jamie Zackavitch, Andy Harlan, Joy Guilleux, Adrienne Willhoft, Sam Van Eman, Francois Guilleux, Krista Purcell.
  • Ohio Wesleyan Student Leader Training. August 17th-18th. Kelly Ozelski.
  • Ohio Wesleyan University Fresh X. August 19th-21st. Kelly Ozelski, Jamie Zackavitch, Andy Harlan, Adrienne Willhoft, Sam Van Eman, Francois Guilleux.
  • Lancaster Bible College Weekend of Welcome (WOW). August 22-24th. Paul Harbison.
  • Shippensburg Fellowship Retreat. August 23rd. Sam Van Eman.
  • Geneva College Freshmen Day. August 23rd. Patrick Emery.
  • Geneva College Freshmen Service Day. August 24th. Patrick Emery.
  • Durham Academy Orientation. August 25th-29th. Jamie Zackavitch.
  • Pulse House Orientation. August 26th. Adrienne Willhoft and Patrick Emery.
  • Wilmington Area Schools Staff Retreat @ Westminster College. August 26th. Francois Guilleux.
  • Portersville High School Senior trip. September 19th-22nd. Paul Harbison.
  • Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades First Year Orientation. October 3rd-4th.  Kelly Ozelski, Jamie Zackavitch, Andy Harlan, Adrienne Willhoft, Sam Van Eman, Paul Harbison, Jeremy Stoltzfus.

I am grateful for such an amazing team of staff who really did a great job this year.
Some took notice of this good work, as seen in this note from Rock Jones, the president of Ohio Wesleyan University whose pre-orientation we facilitate, sent to the CCO staff on OWU's campus:

"Can you send me a list of students who served as FreshX [Freshmen eXperience] leaders (and the correct title for their role?). I want to send them thank you notes. I have heard nothing but excellent reports from those who participated. Thank you for your leadership in this strong program." 

Did you ever receive a thank you note from your college's president when you were a student!? 

Lancaster Bible College WOW introductions

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

15 Experiences Everyone Should Have in College?

Caught this on the interwebs. It reminded me of how narrow a view of what it means to be human students encounter in college.

For some alternative views of making the most out of college, check out these resources by former CCO staff Don Opitz and Derek Melleby:

Friday, May 24, 2013

The importance of campus ministry

Some very interesting findings from the recent report from the Veritas Forum. Another reason why the CCO continues to meet college students where they are. CCO stand in the gap described by the figure below, building relationship with students and walking with them through one of the most formative periods of their lives.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Teaching Leadership in and out of the wilderness

We love all of you who have been praying and supporting us over these last 14 years of ministry with the CCO. We love you all the more because sometimes I know it's not all too clear what it is that we do and yet you have remained faithful. Thank you! 

So imagine how excited I was when I came across an article in last month's Harvard Business Review that may be helpful in articulating one of the many services our department of the CCO offers to our students, staff and partners. 

The CCO's core purpose is Transforming College Students To Transform The World. Joy and I and the folks in our department which is called CCO Experiential Designs (or XD for short) use adventure, service and travel to design and facilitate moments of transformation: moments when students or CCO staff come to know Jesus and as a consequence, themselves and how they lead and love, little more deeply. 

The HBR article describes the kind of leadership that can be learned on wilderness expeditions and its direct application in the work world. The article is about the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) which was founded by the grandfather of American mountaineering, Paul Petzold, who also founded the Wilderness Education Association (WEA). The WEA has just accredited the CCO as an Outdoor Educator Certification program (Remember all that work we did a year ago to complete the organizational self-study for accreditation?). The curriculum used in NOLS and WEA are very similar since both organizations trace their roots to the same man. CCO students who go on XD summer transformative opportunities are receiving the same teaching, character development and preparation to go and lead wherever God calls them as described by the authors.

The brief summary is that on wilderness expeditions participants learn to: practice leadership, lead from everywhere, behave well, keep calm, and disconnect to connect and these are skills and dispositions that are incredibly valuable in today's work world.
If you want to read the whole article with the work world application examples, here's a link to "HBR Wilderness Leadership.pdf" in my Dropbox:

These principles of leadership are also at the heart of a lot of the professional development work we have been offering in the offices of CCO partners and other organizations. If you have any questions about the leadership development programs and consultation XD has been doing or if you are looking for help with your company's leadership training, feel free to contact Joy or I. We'd love to dream about ways we can help you.


Monday, April 29, 2013

The Passing of Brennan Manning

A few weeks ago, Brennan Manning passed away. Listening to him speak once again as I (Francois) was driving across Pennsylvania, I was brought to tears (again!) by his insight and gentleness. I came to know Manning when I first read his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel,  in the 90's as I was attending graduate school. Shortly thereafter I had the chance to hear him speak at a church. While I had been a Christian for almost 10 years at that point, his message of Grace and God's love was unlike anything I had heard before. During more than 20 years of writing and speaking, Manning used his own life story of success and failures as an example to teach about God's furious love:"Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion." 

For college students who are in the midst of defining their identities, Manning's exhortation often strikes a deep cord. The chapters from his book, Abba's Child, on our belovedness and our attempts to hide from God and others have been staples on CCO trips for many years. The conversations these two chapters open go to the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. The grasp of our belovedness and the power of our impostor (as Manning called our false self) are also central to the assumptions from which we build our leadership. We often assign these readings on CCO trips during a time of solitude for students to really chew on Manning's words and let the Holy Spirit bring to mind the experiences of the trip which speak to when they encountered their belovedness and their shadow self. For many these are powerful moments of reflection and learning.

For those of you who are familiar with his work, you know what a loss this is. And yet we cannot help but celebrate because Manning is now with his Abba whose love he has sought and shared with so many.  For those of you who have not read any of his work, here is 45-minute video from one of his many speaking engagements:

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Bible Center Church staff and students
While CCO staff are out and about the country leading students on Spring Break trips, I wanted to share with you a new project that I have had the privilege to work on this year. SUMO (Summer Urban Mission Opportunity) is joint program of the Bible Center Church in Homewood and the CCO. Professor John Wallace who holds the Phillip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice at the University of Pittsburgh and pastors the Bible Center Church wanted to offer college students an opportunity to experience first hand the issues facing many urban communities and how one church is seeking to bring about shalom, or flourishing, to its neighborhood. Working with Dr. Rodger Woodworth, the CCO's director for multi-ethnic ministry and Kerri Clauser Landes, the CCO associate staff at Bible Center Church who runs the discipleship house for college students, Dr. Wallace has been planning a week-long life-transforming immersion into the community of Homewood. I was invited to come alongside this group of visionary leaders to help shape and design this learning experience for the college students who will arrive in May. 

The theme of the week is food insecurity or the reality of hunger in a historical yet poor neighborhood of Pittsburgh where no grocery chain will open a supermarket. During the intensive week of SUMO, a group of students will experience the challenges and opportunities that many residents of urban neighborhoods face. They will meet with people for whom following Jesus has meant taking their skills and expertise and serving the church as it seeks to be an agent of God's Kingdom in the restoration of the community. Along with classroom teaching and panels of speakers, the students will serve in the community of Homewood and in the church by working at the food pantry, helping with the after-school program and going on home visits. What an opportunity! 

If you want to find out more about SUMO, check out the following links:   

If you want to learn more about the work of Bible Center Church, check out this article in the Post Gazette:

If you want to learn more about food insecurity, check out this brand new documentary:

and if you know a college student who would benefit from attending SUMO, please let me know.

Thank you for your prayers and support which allow us to continue our work with the college students and the CCO. Please pray for all the students returning from Spring Break this week may they be able to apply what God has shown them this week back on campus.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

What students are saying...

Why does the CCO exist? The CCO exists to join God in Transforming College Students To Transform The World. Bonnie Liefer and Peter Chase have put together an inspiring series of what students in the CCO ministry are saying about how their faith intersects with their studies and gifts. Here are a few examples:

Jubilee 2013

Here is a fantastic short video from this year's conference. Put together by the talented Peter Chase, it captures some of the highlights of 2,000 college students spending a weekend together to think and pray about how their faith influences their calling to join God in his restoration of his creation. What a weekend, what an opportunity!

Jubilee Conference 2013 Highlights from CCO Campus Ministry on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Jubilee 2013

It's that time again! Just 10 days until the CCO's Jubilee Conference at the David H Lawrence Convention Center. We are looking forward to some amazing speakers and learning and for God to move powerfully among the 2,000 people who will attend. Check this year's conference schedule below.
or by clicking here: Jubilee Conference program.
Registration are not closed so if you know a college student who would benefit, let them know about Jubilee. Also on Friday, spaces are still open for Jubilee Professionals, a gathering of business leaders interested in integration of faith and work.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Helping colleges and universities transform college students to transform the world

It's not everyday you find your work in the pages of US News and World Report.  The article on Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) mentions the Fresh X orientation program. CCO staff Scott Gabriel started that program in the late 90's and CCO has been running Fresh X for the university for the last three years.
Check it out: