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IVCF on Campus: Does it Even Matter? (02/15/2012)

I want to share something I came across today. InterVarsity posted this link today as the establishment of christian fellowships on university campuses is being challenged.

“This past year, InterVarsity’s ministry has been challenged on 41 campuses (most recently at the University of Buffalo and Vanderbilt University). And while InterVarsity does not enjoy such disagreements, they do provide an opportunity to showcase the value of having an InterVarsity chapter on today’s campus.

So InterVarsity would like to know: Do you believe that InterVarsity makes a difference on today’s campus? If so, how is InterVarsity a positive influence in the university world?”

It got me thinking back to a conversation I had with a student leader back when I was a freshman on campus. We were talking about InterVarsity, its purpose, and the future of our fellowship. We got to talking about our presence as a body of Christ on campus in the present and started dreaming about what it would look like if InterVarsity became such a presence on our campus so much so that if we ceased to exist here our absence would be mourned.

Why? Because maybe..

The people in InterVarsity were the ones who cared. They were the ones who were active in student life on campus. They responded to the needs of the campus, they were in tune with relevant issues on campus, whether a death in the student body or a natural disaster halfway around the world, InterVarsity students were the first to respond. Maybe the people in InterVarsity were the ones pushing the envelope of reconciliation on campus and doing justice. Maybe they were the ones who were not just relevant in their own little pockets of campus life, but they engaged the whole campus. They were the ones who cared.

So the above page from InterVarsity really has me thinking. Does our campus need InterVarsity? Are we a positive influence on campus life? As a ministry, what do we exist for?

In my understanding and in my time in InterVarsity, IVCF exists as a ministry to the university not a ministry who happens to be on a college campus. We are on campus on purpose. InterVarsity is not a place of escape for the Christian from the world. It is a place where transformation and spiritual formation happen to go deeper and engage more holistically with the world around us. We are called to be a redeeming influence among university people, ideas, and structures. God said He was making all things new, not all new things. So, we do not exist as a ministry for the sake of ourselves, but we exist for the sake of His purposes for the world around us: the campus. We are called to be partners in God’s plan of redemption, renewal, and restoration of a broken world.

So if InterVarsity ceased to exist on our campus, would it matter just for the members or would campus life suffer a significant loss? On campus or not, does it make a difference?

For those of you still on campus, this is not a critique but an invitation to dream with me and the student leaders who have gone before you. Does it matter if we’re on campus or not?

Brothers and sisters still on campus, may I humbly submit to you a request: do better than us. If we believe that this dying world needs Jesus, may we live out that radical kind of love and life that the campus can’t simply live without.

When this vision was first presented to me as a freshman, I remember being so enamored by the idea of it all. What a wondrous vision: The kingdom of God advancing into Geneseo. I hope and pray that it would fill you as well with such awe and wonder. That it would be fuel for these dreams to be brought into fruition.

I love the Geneseo campus, down to every last bit of brick and mortar. It’s been a blessing that God has entrusted the campus and its people to me to love for a short while. I believe He makes us caretakers of this place while we are called to be there as students. With each new class of freshmen, I am blessed and encouraged to see future leaders and disciples of Christ who will be the hands and feet of Jesus on campus. As a former caretaker of the campus, I am delighted to leave it to such wonderful people. And I humbly ask of you again: do better than us.

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Phil. 3:12-14

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