I was sitting at my computer checking off tasks when my phone started buzzing. Looking at the number, I knew it was a conflict, and I knew the conversation would be long and messy. My chest constricted. My mouth went dry. I rejected the call.
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’ve been in some pretty demanding full time ministry settings for most of my adult life, so I guard my time off with careful intentionality. But sometimes I fool myself into believing that rest means I’m entitled to be off duty from the universal calling to Christian obedience. A recent encounter at 30,000 feet reminded me that the Holy Spirit never goes on vacation and that this life of service presents opportunities no matter where I am.
There was that question again, only this time it was from a fraternity student who had rededicated his life the week before at our fall conference. After his first five minutes ever in a posture of listening prayer, he turned wide-eyed and exclaimed: “I grew up in the church, why has no one ever taught me how to listen to God before?”
“What is your group’s view of homosexuality?” I sat across the desk from the Vice President for Student Life as she asked me this direct question in the midst of a campus access issue in 2010. To this day, I’m not sure if my answer was a dodge, or sheer inspiration, or just fumbling.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus never hurries? That he never seems stressed out? Angry, yes. Grief-stricken, yes. Rolling his eyes at the latest dumb-headed disciple mishap, yes. But stressed, hurried, anxious? Never.
InterVarsity’s Doctrinal Basis says that “we believe in the unity of all believers in Jesus Christ, manifest in worshiping and witnessing churches making disciples throughout the world.” Sounds awesome, right? Who doesn’t like the unity of Christians? At face value, we’re drawn to this ideal of Christians worshiping and working together for the gospel. But it’s in the details of what that looks like where we begin to struggle. What do we do when we have to focus on the specifics of unity?
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!
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.