Students at Columbia College, a large and diverse private arts and media college in Chicago, began gender-specific discipleship groups out of a desire to increase accountability as they pursue authentic community within their InterVarsity chapter. Members are discovering what it means to truly care for one another and respond to each other’s emotional and spiritual needs.
“We need to mature in communication together now, so that men and women ministering together can become more of a reality among church leaders in the future,” said Erin Foster, InterVarsity staff at Columbia College.
Chapter members meet for prayer within two of the larger residence halls. Students are using Facebook, a popular social networking website, to connect with interested students on campus. One InterVarsity student began inviting those who join the chapter’s Facebook group to prayer meetings, large-group gatherings, and small-group Bible studies. One of the core members in the women’s group originally got connected through Facebook.
Six women currently meet for discipleship. At one of the meetings, a member shared her determination to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV). The women abandoned their scheduled activities for the evening to pray for her. Next semester the group will study the book Breaking Free by Beth Moore, which uses Scripture to illustrate how Christians can free themselves of the obstacles hindering their relationship with Christ.
Dave, student leader for the men’s group on campus, said, “I think we really need this… a place for men to speak honestly about the challenges of being a Christian man of integrity.”
A few members of the group have attended the discipleship group before finding out about any of InterVarsity’s other activities on campus. As Dave prepares to graduate, several members have decided to co-lead the group next semester because of their powerful, relationship-building experiences as a community.
Next semester, members of both the men’s and women’s groups on campus plan to meet together to discuss gender issues. InterVarsity desires to see students growing in love for God and each other as they mature as disciples of Christ.
You can make a direct financial donation to support InterVarsity’s work at Columbia College by following this link.
pictured: Jeff and Evan, two members of the men’s group