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June 15, 2012
Something amazing is happening in InterVarsity chapters across the country. In just seven years, the number of students and faculty who come to faith each year has doubled. Yes doubled. In our 72 year history, we have never seen such a season of fruitfulness.
Praise to the Lord of the Harvest! As staff, we are so fortunate to be part of this remarkable – and mysterious – movement of His Spirit in hearts and minds on campus.
I vividly recall Fall Leadership Meetings 2005. As 50 senior leaders gathered, we jointly acknowledged our lack of focus in proclaiming the Gospel. Calling out to the Lord, we committed to increased vigilance, prayerfulness, and boldness.
Over the past five years, regions have implemented more than 60 evangelism pilot projects. Some of my favorites include:
- Proxe stations (pictured) in the midst of campus, featuring interactive topics such as human trafficking. Conversations about the nature of evil and the need for redemption often result.
- “Pretend You are a Christian Month” in which non-believers volunteer to think like and behave like followers of Jesus.
- A Katrina Relief program to New Orleans draws hundreds of Boston-area students, including many seekers.
- Spring Break Evangelism trips to Florida, Jamaica and Guyana.
- “Sex and Pizza” events that explore the intersection of sex and faith. At the University of Washington, non-believers constituted more than half the theater audience of 120. A guided conversation (and pizza) followed each vignette.
All-campus week-long events have been hosted at a variety of schools such as Michigan State, UCLA, Clarion (Pennsylvania), Northern Iowa, and River Falls (Wisconsin). At Ohio State, over 300 students came to faith. These campus missions take us back to our roots as a movement.
Perhaps most exciting is the precipitous drop in the number of chapters without a new believer. Within two years of refocusing on evangelism, the number of such chapters dropped by a third.
A strategy borne in Southern California – to ask for faith commitments early in fall term – has spread nationally. As students come to faith in the first weeks of the academic year, a level of boldness and momentum builds. Suffice to say, the faith of new believers is contagious.
Several regions – such as New York/New Jersey and Central – now make it a practice to share each conversion story with every staff member. This process results in both celebration and motivation.
Niche ministries – e.g. Greeks, Gospel Choirs, Athletes, LaFe, International Students and Arts – take the Gospel to existing student communities. Greek Ministry alone saw 70 faith decisions at its three national conferences this past year.
As God’s Spirit continues to move on campus, I am very excited about the near future. Major events are currently being planned for New York City, the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
The new Strategic Plan envisions 82 new evangelism projects in the next five years. A second campaign is being launched to resource them.
It is evident that new staff have also been bitten by the evangelism bug. I look forward to welcoming 120+ of them at Orientation of New Staff (ONS) in mid-June. Sharing the Gospel will once again be front and center in the curriculum.
May our Lord continue to reap a rich harvest on campus!