For the NFL, their finest hour is the Superbowl. Companies will pay millions to air a 30-second commercial during this prime opportunity. For NASA, their finest hour is when their robot lands safely on Mars and starts driving around. That moment of victory makes NASA engineers cry. How about for us? What is InterVarsity’s finest hour? What would we spend our top dollar on, or what would make us cry with joy? Our finest hour is the first three weeks of school each autumn and the first two weeks of spring semester. Why?
The first three weeks of a freshman’s life are arguably the most open time of his or her life. Freshmen come to campus in order to seek, to look for new experiences, new friends, new ideas and new ways of living. They expect to learn and expand their horizons. During these first few magical weeks of school, who will influence them? Where will they bond and form friendships? Where will they find their identity?
What if InterVarsity were at our absolute best during the first three weeks of school? The most inviting, the most compelling, the most loving and the most helpful on campus? What if we reoriented our year, our prayers and our planning toward making the first three weeks of school our finest hour?
I believe that we in InterVarsity can shine the brightest in pointing students to the most compelling man in history: Jesus, our Creator, our God and our Friend.
Why does New Student Outreach (NSO) matter to me personally? When I was a freshman, I was not particularly looking for God. A few days before classes began, I walked by the InterVarsity table, and I stopped to sign the interest card. Why? I don’t exactly remember, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Because I signed that interest card, people extended the friendship and welcome of God to me. I tried the InterVarsity small group in my dorm a few times. It was a good discussion, but I was a flake. I always said I would attend, but I often skipped. Nevertheless, they took the initiative to become my friends. They endured with me. By the end of my freshman year, I submitted my life to Jesus. My life would be forever different, thanks in large part to that moment when I signed the interest card. Thank God for that simple little contact card.
But here is the zinger. The back-story is more crucial than my contact card story. If you lift the curtain on my freshman year, there was a InterVarsity community of students who were praying and planning for months before I ever stepped foot on campus. They were preparing their hearts and structures to welcome a super obnoxious and self-absorbed freshman like Doug. Becoming friends with semi-interested freshmen is a ministry of suffering and perseverance. If you have not let God soften your heart, you will be tempted to give up on students like me. Please pray for large hearts. Please pray that you will actually become friends with the incoming freshman, beyond just giving them a flier.
NSO is our opportunity to be a part of God’s redemptive plan for new students and for our campuses. Please lean into this NSO. Please pray and make plans for bigger things from God. Please show our 3 NSO videos (New Student Outreach, Follow-Up, and Bonding) to your team of student leaders and help fire them up to expect more from God this fall. Here’s to Jesus’ anointing on our finest hour!
Doug Schaupp serves as Associate National Director of Evangelism. He and his wife, Sandy, live in Los Angeles, California.