USA (MNN) — A college ministry is seeing growth despite recent troubles.
Jim Lundgren of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship says they’re celebrating record numbers at their annual Orientation of New Staff (ONS).
“I think it’s a sign of the health of our work on campus,” Lundgren says. “It’s a 10-day program that involves training in developing mission partners and the work they do on campus.”
This year, a record 138 new staff members are attending the event in Madison, WI.
“We put them in small groups; we do a lot of interactive exercises, and try to get them ready for service on campus this fall,” he explains.
Lundgren further explains that these paid members of InterVarsity staff work together with chapter leaders in developing student ministry on-campus. A large part of their work will include raising support; new staff members learn how to develop these key relationships at ONS.
“We want to involve these people (mission partners) in our work in very integral ways,” says Lundgren.
Part of that means showing mission partners they can do more than give and pray.
“These folks want to be involved with us in all kinds of ways,” Lundgren says, “whether it’s helping with a barbeque on campus, or discipling a student, or being an advisor to the staff member and the student leadership team.”
This spring, restrictions in the name of non-discrimination caused trouble for InterVarsity. In March, schools began banning InterVarsity chapters from their campuses. Many held to a claim that InterVarsity’s use of religious criteria when choosing student leaders discriminated against non-religious students.
“These staff and their student leaders are thrown right in the middle of negotiations with university administrators on that whole issue,” Lundgren states.
In addition, Lundgren says some schools are questioning InterVarsity’s requirement of student leaders to agree with the organization’s doctrine.
“We’re seeing the university question whether an InterVarsity chapter should be on-campus,” he says. “They’re threatening to remove our ability to meet on-campus as a result.”
Pray for new staff this week as their training continues.
“The fact that the (new staff) numbers are growing is allowing us to grow in reaching new campuses, and in reaching more students on-campus,” says Lundgren.
“We would really love to see you pray that our access to the campus would continue.”
Are you headed off to college this fall? Get a jump start on the school year and connect with an InterVarsity chapter.