Crosswise Institute | Christ College | Concordia University Irvine

Who is Crosswise?

Crosswise Summer Experience

The Crosswise Institute of Concordia University Irvine endeavors to engage high school students in meaningful dialogue on contemporary cultural issues that challenge their worldview and that calls them from comfort to something risky, but rewarding.

Together, students are invited to develop their ideas, refine their thinking, and examine how the church community might respond to current and relevant topics as informed by Scripture. Ultimately, we want to bring these conversations to bear on the real lives of friends and neighbors as students go out with a thoughtful Christian perspective on current events, ethical concerns, and social trends.

Crosswise Summer Experience

2019 Theme: FRIENDS AND ENEMIES

Crosswise Institute is an intensive six-day summer experience for high school students who are willing to grapple with the most remarkable issues confronting our communities both now and into the future. The 2019 theme will explore what it means to have meaningful relationships in an uncertain world. What kind of risks are you willing to take to get to know someone? Are you willing to be known? Come be a part of the conversation!

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What Happens at Crosswise?

Crosswise Leadership

The Crosswise Institute at Concordia University Irvine is made possible by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment. Our vision is to invite high school students to think critically and biblically about trending cultural topics. By participating with others in this way, they might expand their understanding of the world while growing in wisdom.

We believe in interesting conversations, deep questions, breaking bread, and hearty laughter. Crosswise seeks to inspire students to be the conversation-starters in their own neighborhoods, families, sports teams, and schools. In short, the Crosswise team hopes you will join the effort to think biblically about our culture’s most pressing issues.


Joel Oesch, PHD

Executive Director

Preferred Super Power: Teleportation
Day Job: Director of the Graduate Programs in Theology at Christ College, Concordia University

I would appreciate the power of teleportation. One, I can teleport to Dallas every Sunday afternoon to watch the Cowboys play. Two, I can finally fish the world's greatest trout streams without spending a dime on travel. Three, if I found myself in a sticky situation...I could get the heck out. I suppose you could do all these things by flying as well, but I have to wonder, wouldn't flying like Superman leave you with an incredibly sore neck?

Rebecca Duport, MA

Associate Director

Preferred Super Power: The Force
Day Job: Assistant Professor & Director of the Director of Christian Education Program of Christ College, Concordia University

I would like the power of the force. It would be awesome to be a Jedi, of course, and use my powers for the right cause: protection. I would not be swayed by the Dark Side.

Daniel Deen, PhD

Program Director

Preferred Super Power: Cyberpathy
Day Job: Assistant Professor of Philosophy, specializing in the Philosophy of Science at Christ College, Concordia University, Irvine

The ability to control software with your mind. The world will be in dire trouble from two post-apocalyptic sources: zombies and killer robots. When, not if, those two threats to humanity merge as zombiots nobody will be ready for what follows. In such an environment computer-programming skills to deprogram the zombiots will be key to survival. Thus, my desired superpower is the ability to program computers with my mind, aka cyberpathy. But wait! If biological zombies do not have minds, will zombiots not have a functioning CPU to run software?

Jeff Mallinson, DPhil

Team Member

Preferred Super Power: Animal Telepathy
Day Job: Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Concordia University, Irvine

The ability to control animals with telepathy to fight as an army against the coming robot apocalypse.

Rev. Jonathan Ruehs, MA, MA,Th

Team Member

Preferred Super Power: Flight
Day Job: Assistant Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Church Leadership

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to have the superpower of flight. I'd love to soar in the sky, fly through the clouds, and take in the sights and sounds of the world around and below me. Teleportation on the other hand are for those who are in a hurry and just want to get from point A to B without really taking time to experience the wonder and beauty of the created world around us. The power to fly would provide the chance to de-stress and decompress in the midst of a busy life. ​

Dana Burkey, DCE

Team Member

Preferred Super Power: Time Travel
Day Job: Director of Local Mission & High School Youth at Christ Lutheran Church & School, Costa Mesa, CA

The ability to move through time

Rev. Mark Manning & DCE Heather Manning

Community Life Leaders

Mark's Preferred Super Power: The ability to eat a whole roll of cookie dough in one sitting
Mark's Day Job: Communicator of truth specializing in biblical content

Heather's Preferred Super Power: Memorizing teenagers' names
Heather's Day Job: Youth specialist with an emphasis on belching

How is God calling you to serve?

From its founding, Concordia University’s Christ College has equipped students to carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. As you seek to discover your unique calling, Crosswise offers you an opportunity to explore your questions and collaborate with like-minded students.

Learn more about each of the Church Work Programs offered at Concordia University Irvine:


Want to know more about preparing for a vocation in church work at Concordia University Irvine? Please contact the Christ College Program Coordinator, Carrie Donohoe, at carrie.donohoe@cui.edu or (949) 214-3389.

Ways to Support

By Contributing Your Ideas

This innovative and exciting new think tank for high school students offers today’s youth an opportunity to lend their voice to contemporary issues and engage these ideas within their sphere of influence to shape culture. Select faculty and scholars will be invited to facilitate these conversations.

Contact Crosswise

By Continuing the Conversation

The carefully articulated, gospel-centered ideas that result from these gatherings will become available to students and their communities as resources for continuing the conversation. Read articles, watch video, and listen to audio of our recent gatherings.

By Giving

Invest in Concordia University Irvine’s Crosswise Institute today.

Crosswise offers high school students a unique opportunity to engage in learning spaces that emphasize inquiry, critical thinking, collaboration, and authentic, "real world" problem solving as they tackle culturally relevant topics. We believe these students are capable of sparking meaningful change in their communities.

Supported with a generous grant from:

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