By Jonathan Rice

Renewing the Campus

While hope leads to change, change doesn’t necessarily lead to hope. Despite the educational opportunities offered by technology and the greater political influence won by students in recent years, today’s collegians are still in desperate need of hope and their campuses in protracted need of spiritual renewal.

InterVarsity is seeding the campus with hope by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this message is leading to not only the fundamental transformation of individual lives but also to the spiritual renewal of American campuses.

Since the founding of InterVarsity’s first chapter at the University of Michigan in 1938, our Fellowship’s staff, students, and faculty have been faithfully building witnessing communities that bring hope and renewal to campuses. And despite the ubiquitous influences of secularization and anti-Christian rhetoric at many of today’s schools, InterVarsity is still seeing remarkable growth in the number of non-Christians students choosing to become Christians (28% over the past five years).

Such growth may in some part come from our campus staffs’ understanding of the social, moral, and spiritual issues facing college students today—an understanding that gives our staff the ability to empathetically connect with this generation’s students and the compassion to courageously share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sharing the gospel on campus is InterVarsity’s primary mission

Through God’s Spirit, the gospel transforms lives and renews campuses. “We can’t renew campuses by ourselves,” says InterVarsity’s president Alec Hill. “Campuses are renewed only as we cooperate with the Spirit of God.”

InterVarsity renews campuses by reaching out with the gospel to students of every ethnicity. At Harvard University we have eight different chapters, some ethnic-specific, for graduate and undergraduate students. In December 2008, these chapters together sponsored an on-campus lecture series by Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright. During this series, a student from China decided to become a Christian. He now attends an InterVarsity small group Bible study. Imagine how God may lead this Chinese Christian in ministry when he returns to his homeland.

We renew campuses by nurturing healthy relationships between our chapters and the various student organizations, administrative offices, and cultural communities in the academy and by demonstrating our biblical values in those relationships.

At Mesa Community College in San Diego, an InterVarsity staff member invited the college’s president to visit an AIDS awareness exhibit that our Fellowship co-sponsored with another Christian organization, World Vision. The college’s president was so impressed with InterVarsity’s work that she said, “InterVarsity impacted our college and moved it to acquire a heart. InterVarsity’s Impact One tent touched the campus and it touched me. We are not the same.”

We renew campuses through InterVarsity Press books

InterVarsity Press books are respected by even non-religious academicians at every professional level, and our award-winning books, which are honored for engaging social and cultural issues from a Christian worldview, are frequently used for research in many academic disciplines. Without a doubt, InterVarsity Press books are helping to shape not only students’ intellects, but also their professors’ worldviews.

When you visit the InterVarsity Press website, you’ll find that our current publishing program is focused on three imprints:

  • IVP Books offers general-interest publications in categories such as Christian living, discipleship, evangelism, missions, apologetics, and culture.
  • IVP Academic offers books designed for research and classroom use in disciplines such as biblical studies, theology, philosophy, science, and psychology.
  • IVP Connect offers study guides, multimedia curriculum, and foundational resources for churches and small groups.

We renew campuses through our alumni programs, designed to encourage life-long discipleship to Christ

Former InterVarsity students can stay connected to their alma mater’s InterVarsity chapter and to the national Fellowship through our alumni programs. Our Alumni website provides the latest information about alumni conferences, publications, and reunions; and our web library contains ample resources for your ministry in daily life.

The Alumni department encourages former students to pray for their college’s InterVarsity chapter, serve as campus volunteers, and financially contribute to an InterVarsity chapter’s program and our national ministry. Through InterVarsity’s Alumni department, alumni can contribute to spiritually renewing their alma mater and other campuses.

We renew campuses through our faculty ministries

We plan to double the number of our faculty witnessing communities from twenty-five to fifty over the next five years. And we also plan to offer more conferences for faculty. When you visit the Faculty Ministries website, you’ll learn about future conferences for Christian scholars, find easy steps for subscribing to the Lamp Post newsletter, and discover Christian faculty communities in your area (or how to start your own community).

We also renew campuses through our Emerging Scholars Network, which invites Christian scholars (some faculty, others researchers or administrators) to go deeper in their relationships with Jesus Christ. Through the next twenty years, two-thirds of college and university faculty will retire. The Emerging Scholars Network is called to identify, encourage, and equip the next generation of Christian scholars who can be a redeeming influence within higher education, and who thereby help to renew colleges and universities throughout the United States.

For over seventy-five years InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA has followed God’s call to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ among students and faculty. Renewing the campus is integral to our vision of campus ministry.