Re-creating Campus Ministry
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA Forced to Find New Ways to Operate in California after University System Ruling Requires Permitting Non-Christians to be Chapter Leaders
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries
MADISON, WI (ANS) — The California State University (CSU) system has issued a “nondiscrimination policy” that requires InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, which has been active on U.S. college and university campuses for more than 73 years, to allow non-Christians to be chapter leaders.
InterVarsity students enjoying life on campus
Mike Uhlencamp, director of public affairs for the California State University system, explained, “For an organization to be recognized, they must sign a general nondiscrimination policy. We have engaged with (InterVarsity) for the better part of a year and informed them they would have to sign a general nondiscrimination statement. They have not.”
So now the group based in Madison, Wisconsin, has described how it plans to “re-create” its campus ministry.
“InterVarsity has always required chapter leaders to agree to our Doctrinal Basis, a summary of basic, historic Christian beliefs,” said a news release from them that was monitored by the ASSIST News Service.
A group of students involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
“While InterVarsity invites and welcomes all students as participants, we believe a Christian group should have the right to expect and even require their leaders to be Christian — just as any student group, club or Greek organization should be able to require their leaders to be like-minded.”
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA says that it is now developing a new style of campus ministry on CSU campuses where we have been banned from participating in campus life as a recognized student organization.
“In order to maintain a ministry presence with 23 chapters on 19 CSU campuses, InterVarsity is introducing creative new ways to connect with students and share the gospel message—though doing so as an ‘unrecognized’ student group will prove considerably more costly,” said the news release.
“Because we are no longer allowed to participate in campus organization fairs, InterVarsity will make contact with students by deploying new tools such as mobile banner stands, interactive displays, social media, and other techniques that don’t rely on established campus structures.”
Greg Jao, InterVarsity’s National Field Director, said, “Our campus access challenges give this generation of students an opportunity to reinvent campus ministry. Even as we use new tools and techniques, we remind students that effective ministry is ultimately relational. It’s about students inviting other students to follow Jesus.”
Building on Success
On most of the 616 college campuses across the U.S where InterVarsity has 949 chapters, the group states that its student ministry work will continue as it has for more than seven decades.
“Overall our annual reports from staff indicate that InterVarsity is sharing the gospel message with more students and faculty than at any other time in our 73-year history,” added the news release.
Girl students on campus
“During the 2013-2014 school year, 40,299 core students and faculty were actively involved with InterVarsity across the country, our highest participation rate ever. People professing faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord for the first time numbered 3,517, almost double the same number from 10 years ago. Approximately 50 percent of students active in our chapters are members of ethnic minority groups, in California the number is closer to 70 percent.
“Students from every conceivable background still come to college seeking answers to life’s larger questions in order to find meaning and significance. And InterVarsity is committed to sharing with them the message of the gospel, a message that has been revolutionizing lives for 2,000 years.”
InterVarsity is affiliated with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), and is a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Its website is www.intervarsity.org.