By Jonathan Rice

Preparing New InterVarsity Staff for Ministry

InterVarsity prepares new staff for campus ministry. This year from June 22 through July 1 nearly one-hundred staff appointees are gathering in Madison, Wisconsin, the location of InterVarsity’s National Service Center, for orientation and training.

Orientation for New Staff (ONS) is a multi-faceted introduction to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. For ten days, new staff members confirm their callings to campus ministry, hear about InterVarsity’s history and mission, gain skills for establishing witnessing communities, and learn ways for building relationships with donors.

New campus staff members come from diverse educational backgrounds across the United States. Most staff appointees, however, are typically recent graduates from four-year liberal arts colleges and universities. Some of these new staff members have earned graduate degrees. And a few are beginning second careers. But nearly all of these appointees became acquainted with InterVarsity’s ministry through participation in the witnessing communities at their alma maters, where they were recognized by their peers and InterVarsity’s staff as mature Christians and wise student leaders.

New staff members come from varieties of ethnic backgrounds too. “Colleges across this country are ethnically diverse,” said Keith Hirata, ONS director. “And the ethnic distribution of our new staff reflects that diversity.”

Jovin Adjeitey has a heart for ethnic students. She was from Ghana studying in the United States when she first learned of InterVarsity. Today she is an InterVarsity staff member ministering with international students at the University of Houston in Texas. She remembers her experience of ONS with fondness. “ONS was like a big and friendly family gathering,” she said. “I made new friends and got a better vision for how God is using our generation to advance his kingdom on campus.”

During ONS new staff members share in worship, prayer, and Bible study, and through the plenary sessions and the seminars, they gain a larger vision of how InterVarsity campus ministries are helping to transform students and faculty, spiritually renew campuses across this country, and prepare student leaders for careers that help change the world through the gospel.

Training staff in biblical and culturally relevant ways to advance the gospel on campus is a primary component of each ONS. “We train staff in the best practices of evangelism to this student generation because our primary mission on campus is calling students and faculty to a relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Terry Erickson, InterVarsity’s national director of evangelism.

Training staff in biblical values and relational approaches to developing financial and prayer partners is also integral to ONS. “We help staff see that fund development is an opportunity to practice scriptural mandates to live in recognition of our dependence on God and interdependence on the Body of Christ,” said Donna Wilson, director of training and staff fund development.

Affirming a staff member’s interdependence with prayer partners and financial donors is also integral to the ONS experience. Through a Bible study at an ONS, Amy Schoepf, now an InterVarsity staff for colleges in Des Moines, Iowa, discovered that through fundraising she was offering Christians opportunities to partner with her in ministry. “Through fundraising we are blessing other people. If you look at your donors as partners in ministry, you realize this is God’s ministry, not my ministry,” she said.

New staff are passionate about serving God through the campus ministry of InterVarsity. Every year these staff shape their passion for service through the inspiring educational programs of ONS. Being passionate about the gospel and well prepared to minister with students and faculty is why InterVarsity staff are so skilled in both planting and building witnessing communities on campuses around this country.

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