One of the things I love about Urbana is the opportunity to connect with many brothers and sisters serving in IFES student movements around the world. But often I am asked, “Why do we need IFES, and why does InterVarsity need to be part it?”
I just finished writing a report on Collegiate Ministries’ work last year for our Board of Trustees. It was a great joy to write that many of our measures were at record highs. Most notable: 150 new chapters were planted, student and faculty involvement broke 41,000 for the first time, and the number of people accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior was well over 4,000. It is exciting to participate with what God is doing and see this fruit. Thank you to the many of you who invested in the lives of others on campus!
My son just turned 26, and I often wonder if he sees me. He’ll stop by for a visit and a nice conversation precipitated by my non-intrusive questions. Then as he is leaving, I say with a tinge of sarcasm, “So how was your week, Dad?” He’ll glance up sheepishly, “Oh right… how was your week Dad?” I know he has to go, so I laugh and say, “Next time.” I’m just trying to remind him that I am an actual person too, not just his “parental unit.” In a similar way, it is easy for students to see faculty as figures rather than full-orbed human beings.
Have we just left the ‘good ol’ days’? You know, the days we will look back on and realize how relatively stress-free it was to be a Christian on campus, when the only things standing in the way to speak freely about our faith were our own fear of rejection and sense of inadequacy.
Jesus’ crucifixion, His death, the excruciatingly long Saturday, His bodily resurrection and some unspecified moment of return all say “why would I follow Him?” If Matthew, Mark, Luke and John pitched this on Shark Tank, there would be no hope of venture capital from Mr. Wonderful.
We’ve just celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus and now we’re invited to extend our celebration for the seven weeks that make up the season of Easter in the Christian Year. We could fruitfully dwell on a variety of Easter themes: the “newness of life” that comes from dying with Christ (Rom 6:1-4), the “new self” being shaped in each of us by God’s Spirit (Col 3:9-10) or the hope of eternal life in the “new heaven and earth” (Rev 1:1-7). Here’s another one: the gift of shalom.
We read from tweets and news feeds that reconciliation and justice are gospel issues, but rarely do we use the gospel narrative to actually disciple people in practicing justice. James Choung’s Big Story gospel diagram gives us a tool to explain what is wrong with our world and why Jesus is the ultimate solution to the pain, suffering and injustice we see all around us.
The blog is an avenue for staff and student leaders to hear from the visionary leaders of Collegiate Ministries about theological formation, discipleship, chapter planting, chapter growth, and other key ministry themes for campus work.