Although InterVarsity has 949 chapters on 616 U.S. college and university campuses, there are approximately 4,600 degree-granting institutions in the United States. Many of those other schools still have no Christian witness on campus. That’s why, for the past nine years, InterVarsity has been intentionally planting more than 100 new chapters and developing momentum to reach even more campus communities with the gospel.
Planting new chapters is hard work and takes a lot of creativity. This year, our chapter plant at Saginaw Valley University, near Saginaw, Michigan, has gone very well with a creative new approach. Regional Director Fred Bailey credits the quick growth to chapter planter Mike Petersen’s partnership with Kareem, a local pastor and InterVarsity alumnus.
“Kareem and Mike share a vision for a multiethnic ministry that will reach out to the whole campus,” he said. “The chapter plant combines Kareem’s strong preaching and leadership gifts with Mike’s strong networking, and evangelism gifts, both of their strong relational gifts, and Mike’s InterVarsity planting and Bible study training.”
Mike is surprised and pleased by the strong start. “Things are moving faster than I expected,” he said. The first three weeks of large group meetings saw attendance grow to almost 100. Eleven students made decisions to follow Christ, and more than two dozen more rededicated their lives to Jesus Christ.
InterVarsity is eager to find better ways of partnering with local churches to reach more campuses in the U.S. “The work that Mike and Kareem are doing is exciting to see, and I hope we can establish more partnerships like this,” said Shawn Young, InterVarsity’s director of chapter planting.
To continue to build momentum and help staff and students see opportunities to start new chapters, InterVarsity is sponsoring a conference called Ambition, which will be held in Tampa, Florida, January 15-18, 2015. Students, faculty members, and InterVarsity staff will gather to discover innovative ways to collaborate in order to start new outreaches on campus.