By Dave Collins

Getting Official Approval

Being a Christian organization on a college campus can be controversial. Earlier this month the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an injunction against Southern Illinois University on behalf of the campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society. Although legal action is always an option, InterVarsity works to cooperate with campus administrators to avoid going to court. InterVarsity’s chapter at the University of Michigan provides a good example.

For the past two years, the University of Michigan has been developing a new process to formally register and recognize student groups. Though InterVarsity had a staff member on a university advisory committee, our staff and student leaders were still concerned about how school administrators would officially respond to a constitution that expressed our distinctively Christian doctrinal and behavioral expectations for student leaders. InterVarsity chapters at other schools across the country have faced significant hostility and even expulsion in the past few years when chapter standards were perceived to conflict with university rules.

With a great deal of prayer, our student leaders worked throughout the year to learn the university’s new protocols for campus organizations. Drawing from their experience in student government, as well as their convictions about Christian belief and lifestyle, our student leaders wrote a new constitution.

We received more than a simple approval from the university. The administrator who reviews and approves student groups said that our constitution is so well done it should be a model for others to follow.

By God’s grace, with a lot of prayer and gentle spirits, we’ve seen doors for ministry open with a number of strategic administrators throughout the entire process. We’ve moved from asking the question, “How will we get through this?” to “Who will God let us talk to next?” We are thankful for God’s powerful but quiet work over the past 24 months to lead us past potential barriers into a new relationship with the University of Michigan.

Dave Collins is a former area director and campus staff member. After 17 years on staff, he left InterVarsity at the end of June. He is now an associate pastor at the Huron Hills Baptist Church in Ann Arbor. Like many InterVarsity staff before him, he has found campus staff work good preparation for church ministry.

Angell Hall © Photographer: Steven Pepple | Agency: