When Dan Finfrock arrived on the University of Redlands campus in southern California, at the start of his senior year, he was the president of the InterVarsity chapter. However none of the other seven members of the small chapter, who had elected him the previous spring, returned with him. He was not only the president, it looked like he was the entire chapter.
“I was a little dismayed, but I thought I’d put up some signs to see if I could stir up some interest,” he said. Dan had just spent a week of preparation at chapter camp with the leaders from other campuses and his staff worker, Paul Byer; he wasn’t going to give up.
He’s not sure why, but the signs worked. When he arrived at the meeting room at the appointed time, he was surprised to find it was packed with students. “I thought I was in the wrong place.”
Incredible Growth in campus ministry
The chapter soon averaged 35-40 students at the weekly meetings, and 50-60 by the end of the semester. The growth continued the following semester, the last semester of his senior year, as prayer meetings were held on a nightly basis. Fifty students gave their hearts to Christ during those meetings.
“We were praying but it was like the Lord was leading them into that room,” he said. “I had never seen anything like it, it was quite powerful.” Today he’s still in touch with some of those students. Some of them, like Dan, became pastors.
While prayer was one factor in the rapid growth of the Redlands chapter, Dan believes Bible study was another important factor. He had learned how to do inductive Bible study under one of InterVarsity’s best teachers, Paul Byer, who developed the manuscript Bible study method.
“He led us in the Gospel of Mark study, going through it inductively,” Dan recalled. “It was just amazing. I learned so much. I just couldn’t get over the depth of teaching that I was getting through this kind of a study.”
When Dan graduated, Paul Byer invited him to come on staff with InterVarsity. Dan remained at Redlands for six more years and saw the chapter grow to as many as 400 students, which was a sizable portion of the 1500-member student body. He was also invited to serve on the Redlands football coaching staff during that time.
Inductive Bible study remained a major focus of his work with students. “That was what it was all about, getting them into God’s Word and letting the Word transform their lives,” he said.
Sharing Bible study lessons
After he left InterVarsity staff in 1977 he pastored several churches in southern California. He was invited to speak at a pastor’s conference in the Philippines in 1984. The next year he was invited back.
“It was at that time God began to show me the great need for training pastors how to study the Word,” he said. “I discovered that the majority had no system. I knew inductive Bible study was perfect for these guys who had no commentaries, lexicons or dictionaries. They had a great hunger for the Word but didn’t know how to get into it. So I wrote down a course, a system of inductive Bible study. Anybody who has been around InterVarsity will recognize the way we’ve done it in InterVarsity circles for years.”
Dan moved his family to the Philippines and lived there for six years, developing an organization called Intensive Care Ministries, in order to help equip pastors and Christian workers with Bible study skills. The ministry is now based back in the Redlands, California area and Dan regularly travels to Asia, Africa and South America to train local staff, and to lead seminars himself.
“We have bases in multiple countries from which teams go out to conduct inductive Bible study seminars,” he explained. “We do Level 1 and Level 2 seminars over 3-4 days. Level 1 teaches them how to study inductively and Level 2 teaches them how to prepare Bible studies and sermons. We often get pastors walking many miles to attend one of our courses.”
The InterVarsity Bible study skills that Dan developed as a student leader and staff worker at the University of Redlands are now being passed on to Christian leaders worldwide in more than 30 languages.