While August is often referred to as the “dog days of summer,” it is anything but a relaxing month for campus staff. Four out of five universities operate on a semester system and most open their doors this month. Consequently, staff are already engaged in a variety of activities including preparing for New Student and New Faculty Outreach.
And what a year it promises to be – with the largest freshman class ever. All told, universities will enroll over 18 million students and employ more than 600,000 faculty.
Simply put, we love students, faculty and the campus. For nearly 70 years, InterVarsity has been sending missionaries to universities, colleges, community colleges and institutes. We seek to discern what the Lord is already doing on a particular campus and then align our activities with His. We believe that the best way to reach a university community – after prayer and “scouting out the land” – is identify as many “missional” Christians as possible and then equip them to impact others for the Kingdom.
As I meet with alumni from diverse decades and parts of the country, I am struck by how often I hear the phrase, “I was developed as a leader.” One of our central values is to place primary responsibility for the health of chapters into the hands of those we serve. In a nutshell, the role of campus staff is to coach emerging leaders.
We currently have 862 chapters on 562 campuses. A little know fact is that we have staff physically present on twice as many campuses as any other national ministry. Last year, our chapters included 33,049 “core” students and faculty. “Core” is defined as those who participate in 50% or more of a chapter’s activities. For every core student or faculty, we estimate that many more are being significantly impacted by the Gospel.
I also give thanks for this past year:
- the Lord of the harvest brought in the second largest number of new believers in our history
- core participants increased by 4%
- students and faculty of color now constitute over 40% of total participants.
One of our most exciting initiatives is to launch 100 new chapters over a five year period. To date, over 60 chapters have been planted. The 2009 cohort includes the following:
New Chapters on New Campuses
- University Missouri at St. Louis
- Cal State Long Beach
- University of Iowa
- Jacksonville University
- Pasadena City College
- East Carolina University
- Rutgers – New Brunswick campus
- University of Massachusetts at Boston
- Western Connecticut State
- Creighton University
- Babson University (MBA)
New Chapters on Campuses Where We Already Have a Presence
- UCLA (international students)
- University of Michigan (international students)
- University of California at Irvine (grad/faculty)
- Carnegie Mellon (faculty)
- University of Illinois (grad chapter)
- University of Central Florida (South Asian)
- Yale (African American)
- North Carolina State (Greek)
- Washington State (Greek)
- University of Pennsylvania (Greek)
- University of Oregon (international students)
We are also nurturing existing chapters – the vast majority of our ministry. Last month, I was thrilled to see forty staff participating in a course focusing on the principles of chapter building. This initiative is being led by a strong team that has adopted a more nuanced strategy (depending on the size of a chapter). Our hearts yearn for the thousands of unreached students and faculty on campuses where we already serve.
Currently, 808 core faculty are part of 179 chapters. As new staff are added, I am very hopeful that more will be impacted. Of particular note, faculty conferences were held this summer at Cedar Campus in Michigan and Campus by the Sea in California, the latter underway this week. This follows our graduate student/faculty conference in Chicago last winter.
For most of our staff – unlike most Americans – summer is over. But don’t feel sorry for us. To the contrary, we live for this time of year. New students. New faculty. New campuses. New opportunities. This is our mission and passion. Thanks be to God!
Alec Hill talks about InterVarsity’s year-end numbers following “the best year we’ve ever had” in terms of campus evangelism. This talk was presented in a chapel service at InterVarsity’s National Service Center. Click here to listen to the talk or right click to save for later listening. Time: 19:22