Undergraduate Programs

Frequently Asked Questions About Crux

What is Crux?

Crux is North Park’s one-year academic program designed for all first-year students who want to grow in intercultural Christian discipleship through both classroom and extracurricular programming. Through Crux, North Park University’s core values—Christian, city-centered, and intercultural—intersect in a transformational environment, all while fulfilling general educational requirements.

What’s in a name?

The word “crux” refers to the essence, heart, and most vital elements of any topic. The name Crux also comes from the Latin word for “cross” and speaks to the heart of the message of Jesus: namely that God is about liberation of all peoples by means of Jesus’s life, suffering, death, and resurrection on the cross. The Crux cohort is in invitation to follow Jesus in cruciformity—in laying down our own lives that others might have life.

What is the mission of Crux?

We are seeking to become a generation of followers of Jesus who continually:

  1. Reimagines Christianity and discipleship
  2. Restructures relationships more equitably
  3. Reencounters the “other” for the sake of collective liberation

What does the Crux curriculum entail?

Coursework focuses on building a biblical understanding of the Kingdom of God, acquiring the necessary skills to thrive in intercultural relationships, and contextualizing the practice of discipleship to Jesus within the city of Chicago.

How is being in a cohort part of the Crux experience?

Exploring deep formational issues of life and faith requires relationship, trust, and time. The Crux cohort provides an opportunity for individuals who are committed to intercultural Christian discipleship to build these deep relationships through its commitment to follow Jesus together. This happens through:

  • 2–3 classes together as a cohort in both spring and fall semesters
  • Weekly Spiritual Formation Groups (3–4 students)
  • Partnerships with organizations on campus and in the city
  • Large group meetings
  • Immersive experiences in Chicago
  • Community life and fun together
  • Mentorship from Seminary students and Crux staff/instructors

Is there a residential component to Crux?

The Crux cohort includes both commuter and residential students. Residential Crux students are assigned a roommate from Crux to live together in one of the residential dormitories. Because discipleship involves our entire lives, both commuter and residential students process their living situation as it relates to discipleship with their Crux community. This intercultural dynamic is facilitated by experienced former Crux students, Seminary student mentors, and Crux staff.

How will Crux equip me for the work of racial justice?

Discipleship is the work of restructuring relationships where dignity was formerly denied and power was formerly hoarded. Jesus models an altogether different way of subversively engaging power (see Philippians 2:5-11). Crux students, therefore, experience the pursuit of racial justice being woven throughout their curricular and extracurricular commitments, whether in course books, immersive experiences, church visits, prayer times—the work of Jesus is the work of radically pursuing justice.

Beyond this, Crux students all participate in a Chicago Mosaic Experience: three full-day sessions where Crux students examine the histories, communities, and spiritualities that have collectively interacted to form the modern state of this city. It is an opportunity for students to identify intercultural and historical literacy and civic engagement as essential for Christian discipleship. This experience readies our students for the Sankofa Journey (led through University Ministries), in which students travel together throughout the US to historic sites to encounter the real places, stories, and history that has shaped the wider racial injustices that so many Americans face today. These experiences and others like them are meant to help students identify their own role in practicing racial justice both socially and vocationally.

How is Crux different from a typical first-year experience?

Crux students pursue formation together through three commitments: learning together (classes), partnering together (volunteering), and journeying together (city-centered experiences). Life together as a community/cohort provides social and communal supports that many other first-years do not receive. At the same time, commitment to the community of Crux is central for all students who choose to apply to the cohort, which requires time, discernment, relationship, and building of trust. Crux is a deeply enriching experience for many students’ discipleship—one that is worth their commitments and participation.

What is Crux’s discipleship philosophy?

Crux emphasizes discipleship as spiritual formation: Jesus was (and still is!) constantly providing experiences for his disciples to follow him outside of socially and traditionally acceptable spaces in order to reform and transform our way of life to look more like God’s original loving purposes. Because of this, Crux strives to approach discipleship courageously and yet graciously; the disciples didn’t always get it, and neither will we. But nevertheless, we can choose to attempt to listen to Jesus’ voice beckoning us to be transformed by God’s presence in our neighbors and even in our enemies. This makes for quite a dynamic (and powerful) experience, especially as we focus together one what it means to let go of legalistically managing each other’s sins and instead embrace the dynamics of a community of grace.

Our life together, then, is not all-or-nothing. It’s a matter of discerning the sacred question, “What is Jesus saying to me and to us today?” This question helps us recognize that it’s not even the commitments that Crux students make that unite us; instead, it is our mutual pursuit of Jesus as his disciples that makes us one in Christ. Therefore, we focus not primarily on doctrine but discernment of Jesus’ voice, which aids us in becoming a community of grace. This attentive dynamic often sends our cohort to unexpected people and places, much like Jesus’ disciples during his own lifetime.

What type of student is a good fit for CRUX?

A wide array of students have been through Crux: we seek to be a community across any and all social barriers and divides. But we recognize that walking together in an intercultural community with a commitment to intentionally breaking down barriers is difficult work. We are seeking students who are committed to doing this compelling work with one another as Jesus leads the cohort throughout the year. Crux students should also have a desire to partner with organizations on campus and in the city, to humbly learn from a variety of cultures, and a willingness to commit to a lifestyle of discipleship to Jesus. This doesn’t always look like piety or intensity; sometimes it’s just a genuine desire to love and be loved as you follow Jesus in community. That is always enough when our desire is genuine.

What is Crux’s relationship to the Center of Civic Engagement?

After our fifth year, the leadership of Crux decided to come under the leadership of the Center for Civic Engagement at NPU. This was largely because—in the gospels—Jesus spent far more time in the communities around him than at the temple. Crux does not seek to be a protective cloister for those who desire to remove themselves from the wider society; rather, we seek to be in relationship with our neighbors so that the things that hurt them hurt us, too. The messiness of life affects all of us, but together, we can experience collective liberation in Christ. This proximity to the struggles we all face across diverse backgrounds and identities is central to the work of Jesus, so Crux felt it appropriate to join with the work of the Center for Civic Engagement at NPU, which focuses on being a good neighbor to our sister communities throughout Chicago (or even more accurately put, focuses on neighboring them well).

Will it take longer to complete my undergraduate degree?

The Crux curriculum is designed to work in conjunction with meeting NPU’s general education Core Curriculum requirements, so students can remain on track for completing their degree. For STEM and Nursing majors, which tend to be more demanding, we give a lot of grace so that students can prioritize their academic success (which can be part of discipleship).

What other courses can I take?

Crux students fill out the remainder of their course schedule with either additional general education requirements or prerequisites necessary for the major they hope to pursue.

Is tuition higher to be in the Crux cohort?

Crux tuition is commensurate to all of our full-time students. We do not charge students extra to be in Crux; it is simply our hope that students receive the support they get through Crux and discern how to live out those lessons and experiences that intersect with who they truly are. We are committed to helping Crux students participate fully in all formal Crux activities and will make necessary scholarships available if any financial burdens come into play.

What are the admissions requirements for CRUX?

Enrollment in Crux requires (1) acceptance into North Park University, (2) completion of the Crux application, and (3) a reference. Upon acceptance to the University and receipt of your online Crux application, the Crux committee will evaluate applicants for readiness and overall fit. Students should remember to note their interest in Crux when applying to North Park.

Who should I contact if I have more questions?

Please contact Matt Butin, Program Director of Crux (mwbutin@northpark.edu) with any other questions.