Who Are We as a Movement?

Years ago, I was challenged to draft a personal mission statement. In doing so, I had to articulate my life’s purpose, key values and core commitments. It was a difficult but highly significant exercise that has helped shape my life choices, including my decision to join InterVarsity. In the same manner, a ministry like InterVarsity charts its future by clearly articulating its self-identity.

In InterVarsity’s early days—more than 70 years ago—a handful of staff covered huge geographical areas. In some cases, they were only able to visit each campus once a year. Needless to say, student leadership was critical. It wasn’t until 1971 that we had one hundred staff on campus.

When we had few staff, it was relatively easy to maintain a tight, albeit implied, sense of key commitments—factors that describe our DNA. When students asked about InterVarsity’s distinctives, I suspect that the common response was “evangelism, discipleship and missions.”

As the Fellowship has grown and become more diversified, the need to commit our oral history to writing has become more apparent. Our purpose statement is outlined in more details through our core commitments. Both students and staff should benefit from this clarity; it will help anchor us to the essentials of our campus mission.

Most of these commitments have been with us since the beginning. Others, such as ethnic reconciliation, justice and community, have evolved over time. Since the gospel has serious implications for how we live out our lives with regard to other ethnic groups, the poor and the Body of Christ, we regard these additions as healthy developments.

My series of articles amplifies and illustrates the meaning of each of these commitments. I hope that as you read them, your reaction will be, “of course, that’s InterVarsity.” Otherwise we have more work ahead than I realize!

It is my prayer that these commitments will become:

  • The aspirations of each campus chapter.
  • The standards by which student leaders are selected.
  • The measures by which we evaluate our impact upon graduates.

These aspirations are high indeed. May the Lord grant us the grace to grow in him.

—Alec Hill

(from Student Leadership Journal, vol. 15:1)