The streets around our nation’s college campuses are now jammed with cars full of boxes of household items, books, and clothing as students move into apartments and dorm rooms.
Decisions that students make during their first few weeks on campus often set a trajectory for their entire college experience; that’s why InterVarsity invites new students into our witnessing communities on campus through New Student Outreach (NSO). Staff at the National Service Center, staff at both the regional and local levels, and student leaders all work together to make NSO successful.
This summer, the Staff Development and Training department at InterVarsity’s National Service Center in Madison, Wisconsin, taught staff from across the country how to establish chapters on campuses where InterVarsity does not have a presence and trained them in ways to increase the size and develop the spiritual life of existing chapters.
InterVarsity’s Twentyonehundred Productions graphics team developed a series of banners, posters, flyers, and invitation postcards that chapters can use during their NSO activities. These materials will give the chapter publicity a more unified, professional, eye-catching look.
Staff have organized Chapter Focus Weeks, gathering student leaders from schools across a region together before the academic year begins for a time of prayer and planning. Several New England schools spent a week at Toah Nipi, InterVarsity’s training facility in New Hampshire. Staff led the students in Bible studies, showing them the vision of God’s call to make disciples of all people. Staff also taught students how to share their faith and lead a small group Bible study. When they met in their school groups, some student leaders made plans to apply these ideas to their individual campus, while others prepared for NSO by stuffing welcome bags to be given to the students when they arrive on campus.
When the new students arrive on campus the InterVarsity student leaders are the ones who actually extend the welcome during NSO. They help the new students move into the dorms. They also host picnics and game and movie nights, and give away cookies baked by local church members. But most of all they offer friendship and the love of Jesus to a young person who is making some very important life decisions.
Joanne, a third year student at Wellesley College, responded to the invitation that InterVarsity students extended during NSO. She says of her experience, “InterVarsity sent me cookies my first-year, so when I wanted a Christian fellowship junior year, after going through some rebellion against God, they were the group I knew of. You guys value things I now know are important to God.” Joanne will serve on the chapter leadership team this year.
Everyone at InterVarsity, donors and supporters, staff at the National Service Center, field staff, and student leaders, had a role in her transformation into a child of God.
Watermelon, pizza, burgers, ice cream, soda – they all have been used to get the attention of students at NSO events. For ideas on what some campuses are doing, check this article at StudentSoul.org, InterVarsity’s website for students.