InterVarsity is a student led organization. So why have staff on campus? The students do the Bible studies and lead the meetings right? So where does the staff member fit in? Well, a Campus Staff Member (CSM) undertakes a wide variety of tasks to make sure that students hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. CSMs teach and encourage students, guiding them in their spiritual lives. They create opportunities for spiritual and personal growth. They keep in touch with supporters who undergird the entire endeavor in prayer. CSMs do a lot.
Sometimes the ministry is very tiring. Erin Murray, Northern California CSM knows this. “I come back from a typical day at Modesto Junior College emotionally and spiritually tired after leading a Bible study in a loud cafeteria, listening to some one tell me their life story, engaging in an evangelistic conversation and talking with a woman possessed by a demon.” Then sometimes the ministry is more fun, as Carrie Moorhead, New York CSM, tells us. She arranged to visit with friends of an InterVarsity student during a study break. “I arrived bearing baked goods, praying that even through this simple story–I read You Are Special to them– these women would have a better picture of how much God loves them. With a pink tiara on my head, I read books, served cookies and had a great time”
Student contact can take the form of one-to-one meetings, small group training sessions, or large group activities. Such contact can be dramatic or it can be whimsical. It is, however, the outward expression of the spiritual ministry the staff has embarked upon. Marquite Barton, a graduating senior from the University of Tennessee, said it well in a recent letter. “I see them as pastors on campus… The staff workers provide crucial guidance to students.” The spiritual maturity of the campus staff provides support to the students as they grow in Christ.
The CSMs also present the Gospel and the work of InterVarsity to the general public. Many CSMs carry on an active ministry of teaching and speaking at churches and to community groups. At times someone asks a CSM to give an account of his or her faith and ministry. Tim Ballard, CSM from western Illinois had just such an experience. “A phone call came on a Monday afternoon. The voice identified herself as a reporter from the school newspaper, The Western Courier. She wanted to get my reaction to a situation with the chapter at Rutgers University…. I answered the reporter’s questions, afraid of the uproar I could create by explaining that we would not permit an actively gay or lesbian person to serve as a leader in our chapter. I hung up the phone praying for the best…. On Wednesday, the story appeared in The Western Courier. It represented InterVarsity fairly, and we did not see any adverse reaction on the campus.”
The public ministry must also be supported administratively and financially. The Area and Division Directors take some of the burden for this area of the ministry from the CSMs. Don Everts, is a new Area Director in Colorado. He is learning that there is more to the work of InterVarsity than meets the eye. He is now responsible for accounting, human resource forms and other paperwork. But it is all part of the ministry. As he says, “The word ‘administration’ means ‘before ministry.’ I don’t think I ever knew how much went on behind the scenes to make our InterVarsity ministry possible.”
The major share of raising the financial support for campus ministry is the responsibility of the CSM. For many, this is a challenging part of the job. Rising to that challenge, Patrick Langan, CSM from Southern Illinois has come up with a creative approach. “I am enclosing a brochure for a special fundraising event I am going to attempt. In brief, I am trying to round up donors to sponsor me for every mile that I cover at an upcoming triathlon here in town. I am no tri-athlete. In fact, I most likely weigh the most out of everyone who will be competing. However, I am optimistic and I am up to the challenge! If only raising money were as easy as running in a triathlon!”
So, InterVarsity is a student run organization, but the staff members play a crucial role maintaining spiritual continuity, leadership and support to those learning to be the leaders of the next generation.