By Emily Baez, Hannah Keziah Agustin, Ashlye Elizondo Vanderworp and Drew Larson
Why You Should Join InterVarsity
As people who Jesus has deeply shaped through InterVarsity, we believe that InterVarsity is just the best. InterVarsity is fun, it helps you grow, it introduces you to lifelong friends, and it turns you into a certified biblical scholar in just four years! (That last part might be a tiny exaggeration.)
In all seriousness, we really do think there’s something for everyone in InterVarsity. If you haven’t checked us out yet, here are five reasons we think you should.
1. InterVarsity is Holistic
Emily: When I first met InterVarsity, I knew almost immediately that this group was different from other groups on campus. We didn’t just interact with each other when we absolutely had to. Instead, we were a part of each other’s lives in a holistic sense.
One night after small group Bible study, my friend Sara shared very suddenly that she’d been stressed out for months about having to declare a major. She still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life and it was keeping her up at night.
In other groups it might’ve been perfectly acceptable to respond with a “good luck with that, but I gotta go.” After all, we were just meeting for Bible study, it was getting late, and we didn’t have to stick around. But we stuck around anyway and talked to Sara for hours. While she didn’t come to a conclusion that night, I’d like to think that having friends who cared about her life beyond her role in the organization helped.
This was the case so many times in my InterVarsity community. We studied Scripture, worshipped, and prayed together. But we also studied for finals together, met each other’s families, attended each other’s concerts and soccer games, helped each other move, etc. And we talked about everything — mental health, justice, ethnic identity, calling, big life decisions (like how to pick a major!) — you name it. In that process, we met the spiritual, relational, and physical needs of each of the members of our community.
InterVarsity cared about me as a multidimensional person with real needs both spiritual and not spiritual. Because of that, I could bring my whole self to my community.
2. InterVarsity Offers Friendship
Hannah: InterVarsity gives you a community of friends that will last beyond the walls of the university. The friends I made in my chapter have shared so much of their lives with me. We saw each other not as acquaintances who met up for formal organization meetings but as friends who did life together. InterVarsity gave me a place to be seen, known, and loved.
I met my friend Mitch on the worship team when I was a freshman. He helped me with music theory homework and had dinner with me in between choir practice and large group rehearsal. When we both became Bible study leaders, we encouraged each other to be faithful in serving our community. When we were both seniors, we sat with each other and discerned where God was calling us in the next season of our lives. Now that we’ve both graduated and have 9-to-5 office jobs, we FaceTime once a week to talk about After College, a book on how to navigate the transition from the university to the workplace. Even though we don’t see each other as often as we did in college, we still pray for one another and stay connected.
These are the types of friendships you make in InterVarsity. I’ve met many soul friends who support me through the highs and lows of life and continually pray for me even when we live far away from each other. My friends in InterVarsity embody God’s palpable love for me in places I never expected.
3. InterVarsity is Fun!
InterVarsity is a college ministry, which means we have college students who know how to have fun! In our chapter we held movie nights, played beach volleyball, and went on long drives to the gas station in the town fifteen miles away to get three-dollar cheeseburgers and talk about life. We had game nights, boba runs, and corn maze campfires. We grabbed meals together as often as we could because it was the perfect way to incorporate fellowship into eating (something we needed to do each day despite the busyness of our schedules). Our times were filled with the joy of the Lord!
InterVarsity taught me that being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy and stoic all the time. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom,” says Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:17. We are liberated to be joyful in hope and also follow Jesus faithfully. They’re not mutually exclusive. I could joke with my life group friends in the dining hall about difficult classes and the papers I had to write. I could also theologize with them and reckon with questions I didn’t have answers to in Bible study. I learned in InterVarsity that even laughter can be holy in the presence of brethren in Christ.
We have a God who rejoices over us with singing in Zephaniah 3:17. This then sets us free to have fun! Whether fun looks like sharing stories over coffee, baking cookies in the dorm basement, or hiking the trails near campus, InterVarsity provides the space to have fun and the community to do it with.
4. InterVarsity Explores Faith and Scripture
Ashlye: Before college, I don’t know if I’d ever experienced a Christian space where it was okay to ask questions or express doubts. Disagreeing with others who were nice and friendly and seemed like they knew more than I did seemed taboo. But InterVarsity was different.
My Christian experiences up to that point were centered around hearing pastors give sermons. They’d often share one small verse from Scripture and use that to expound for an hour on a topic or point they were trying to make. I thought this is what the Bible was –– a book with some good, encouraging insights on life –– not a love story about a Creator’s work to reconcile his people back to him and renew all things.
The way InterVarsity studies the Bible and talks about faith is deep. We dig deep into history, context, the audience it was written to, the culture at the time, word choice, and questions we have. We don’t ignore what most Christians know and are sometimes afraid to admit: the Bible is difficult to read and understand. Instead, we hear from each other’s perspectives to see that there may be more to the passage than what it seems on the surface.
We also end Bible studies figuring out how to apply what we’ve read to our lives. In my InterVarsity chapter, we all came from different backgrounds and had different experiences. We learned from each other and helped each other figure out how God was speaking to us through Scripture, like if the Lord was calling any of us to reach our individual majors, dorms, etc.
I never knew before InterVarsity that there was nuance to faith and Scripture. I never knew that there were stories and analogies and poetry and characters that could always be showing me something new –– about myself and about God. Even now, as I’m nearly a decade out of college, the way I learned to study the Bible in InterVarsity shapes how I read Scripture and how I experience Jesus. It’s life-changing, and I hope you’ll experience it too!
5. InterVarsity Helps You Grow — As a Person and Leader
Drew: I’ve sometimes described the essence of InterVarsity’s ministry as “Contact and Capacity.” Our chapters, Bible studies, prayer meetings, outreaches, mission trips — all of it, and everything else, are about putting people in direct, personal contact with God, his Word, his love, and his kingdom purposes. And through that contact (and our obedient, trusting response to it), Jesus transforms us and grows our capacities: for love and forgiveness, service and obedience, maturity and leadership, and more.
This is part of the great hope of Jesus that InterVarsity helps students experience: that by trusting your life to God’s ways and your heart to his shaping touch, he will grow you into someone with emotional, spiritual, and practical capacities that you could never achieve on your own and that are, frankly, beyond even your wildest dreams for yourself. That’s good news!
Following Jesus is the most potent investment you can ever make in your potential as a human person. He’s not necessarily making you into a Winner or an Alpha or an Influencer or a Very Healthy and Nice Person. He’s making you into something different and better: a disciple and leader, one whose depth of trust in God and capacity for his kingdom ways are equally immense.
Doesn’t that sound like the best life you could ask for?
Convinced by our list? Join an InterVarsity community on your campus by clicking this link!
Emily Baez is a writer on InterVarsity’s Communications Team in Madison, Wisconsin. She enjoys long hikes, watching movies, and overly competitive game nights with friends. You can support her ministry at donate.intervarsity.org/donate#22836.
Ashlye works as the Managing Editor for InterVarsity's Communications Team in Madison, Wisconsin. She enjoys deep conversations with friends and adventures with her husband (a Video Producer for InterVarsity) and their corgi, Penny. You can support her ministry here: donate.intervarsity.org/donate#21368.
No one would have thought that Lucas, the freshman drained by the church, would become Lucas the senior who would lead his chapter in studying Scripture, having a heart posture of worship, and creating a community that reflects the love that Jesus has for each of us.