InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
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|Type||Non-profit 501(c)3 organization|
|Focus||U.S. college and university campuses|
|1025 chapters on 695 campuses in USA; and international partnerships|
|Tom Lin, president|
|1,696 (June 2018)|
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is an inter-denominational, evangelical Christian campus ministry founded in 1941, working with students and faculty on U.S. college and university campuses. In the 2017–2018 school year, 1,326 campus staff members served 36,742 students and faculty in 1,025 chapters on 695 campuses in the United States. InterVarsity is a charter member of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, a network of similar campus ministries around the world.
InterVarsity is governed by a board of directors. Tom Lin became the eighth president of InterVarsity on August 10, 2016. The president works with a team of four Executive Vice Presidents. InterVarsity is a tax exempt organization under the provisions of Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In the fiscal year ending 30 June 2017, InterVarsity had $103M in revenue (with over 70% coming from charitable donations) and $106.4M in expenditures.
InterVarsity is a charter member in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), and uses more than 85% of its revenue for staffworker salaries and other on-campus work. InterVarsity has been rated 4 stars (out of 4) by Charity Navigator for eight straight years. Michael Thatcher, the president of Charity Navigator, reported: "Only 3% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 8 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA outperforms most other charities in America."
InterVarsity strives to maintain the highest level of accountability with its ministry partners and is also rated by sites such as Guidestar and MinistryWatch. InterVarsity (as of 2015) fell short of the Better Business Bureau's "Standards for Charity Accountability".
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA became an official organization in November, 1941. But it traces its roots to a movement of British university students, starting at Cambridge University in 1877. The movement spread to Canada before reaching the U.S. In 1938 Stacey Woods, the Canadian Inter-Varsity director, met with students on the University of Michigan campus. As an immediate result of that visit, students formed the first InterVarsity chapter in the United States. InterVarsity's first three staff members came on loan from Canada, and Stacey Woods served as the organization's General Secretary (CEO). In 1947 InterVarsity USA became one of ten founding members of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, a federation of national Christian student movements. By 1950 there were 35 staff workers serving students in 499 InterVarsity chapters and by the early seventies, the on-campus staff had grown to more than 200.
Statement of Faith
According to InterVarsity's official website, their purpose statement is the following:
In response to God's love, grace and truth: The Purpose of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is to establish and advance at colleges and universities witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord: growing in love for God, God's Word, God's people of every ethnicity and culture and God's purposes in the world.
Through the 20th century, InterVarsity used a brief statement of faith, called the Basis of Faith, which in January 1960 was supplemented by a unanimous National Staff Conference with what was called the Bear Trap statement, which defined the faith in terms of general Evangelical convictions. On October 20, 2000, the board of Trustees adopted a modified version of their previous statement of faith:
In 2016, InterVarsity clarified its requirements for staff, asking that they affirm traditional, orthodox views of sexuality that are shared by most evangelical denominations. Staff are asked to affirm a twenty-page document which affirms the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament sexual ethic that limits sexual expression to marriage between a man and a woman. However, this change in policy has prompted controversy, especially from LGBTQ Christians and their supporters.
Of the 695 campuses where InterVarsity is present, many have multiple chapters which focus might individually on Greek life students, international students, nursing students, graduate students, athletes, artists, and members of ethnic minorities, or be more generalized depending on the campus. These include 71 ethnic-specific chapters ministering to Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Filipinos, and Latinos. Of the 34,750 active InterVarsity students, 15,198, or 44%, identify themselves as ethnic minority or multiracial students.
InterVarsity also ministers to international students on many campuses, including 68 campuses with specific international student fellowships. Graduate & Faculty Ministry staff work with 192 chapters dedicated to graduate students, professional students, and faculty.
Nurses Christian Fellowship (NCF) is unique among the ministries of InterVarsity; it is a professional organization as well as a student ministry. In addition to campus ministry, NCF offers continuing education courses and the professional publication, Journal of Christian Nursing, to practicing nurses.
InterVarsity activities on campus are varied. Weekly large group meetings include student-led worship, a presentation on a topic of spiritual interest, and a social time. Small group Bible studies are organized around a dorm setting, or like-minded people such as members of a sports team or those interested in a particular topic of study. These are student-led and foster a sense of belonging that today’s students desire. Some of the Bible studies are specifically designed for people interested in spirituality but who may not call themselves Christians. Known as GIGs, Groups Investigating God, these studies allow interested students to explore the claims of the Bible in an open, accepting atmosphere where their questions are taken seriously. In the 2017-2018 school year through its various outreach activities, large group meetings, and Bible studies, chapter leaders reported 4,199 first-time professions of faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. That's a 93 percent increase over ten years ago.
Bible study has always been an important part of InterVarsity's campus ministry. InterVarsity staff worker Paul Byer is credited with developing the Manuscript Study method of inductive Bible study, a useful tool for inductive Bible studies. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in architecture, Byer became one of the leading forces in InterVarsity, as both a campus staff worker and as the West Coast Regional Director, and was the developer of the Manuscript Study method. Through his innovative approach to Bible Study, extensive mentoring, and long tenure he helped shape the theology and culture of the entire movement. The Manuscript Study method continues to be used heavily by InterVarsity as one of many tools to help students investigate and learn from the teachings of the Bible.
Other early staff members laid more of the foundation for InterVarsity's commitment to Bible study. Jane Hollingsworth learned inductive Bible study in seminary and in turn trained staff members in the 1940s. She wrote the first Bible study guide published by InterVarsity, Discovering the Gospel of Mark. In the 1960s, veteran staff member Barbara Boyd developed what became the Bible and Life Training Courses, experienced by decades of students.
InterVarsity students regularly participate in both long- and short-term missions projects. During each summer several hundred students participate in a "Global Urban Trek," working in some of the poorest cities of the world, or "Global Programs," lingua-cultural or service ministries overseas. InterVarsity also sponsored "Urban Programs" in more than two dozen cities in the United States, helping students understand God’s love for all people by working alongside existing ministries in the inner city.
InterVarsity, as a member movement, participates in the global student ministry network, the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), by sending staff and recent graduates to work under the authority of local IFES staff in countries around the world.
InterVarsity, Inter-Varsity Canada, and Groupes Bibliques Universitaires et Collegiaux of French-speaking Canada co-host Urbana Missions Conference, a triennial student missions convention, named for the campus town where it was held for many years. Since the first Convention in 1946, nearly 269,000 attendees have heard the challenge to participate in God's global mission. In December 2006, approximately 22,500 attendees participated in the convention as it was held for the first time in St. Louis, Missouri. Of the approximately 16,000 attendees at Urbana 15, 9,416 said yes to serving in a global or cross-cultural setting—short-term, mid-term, and long-term combined, 9,254 said yes to regularly praying and interceding for the global church, and 5,418 said yes to continuing with others their Bible study of Matthew’s Gospel that began at Urbana.
InterVarsity operates several training centers, Campus by the Sea Catalina Island, CA; Toah Nipi, Rindge, NH; Cedar Campus, Cedarville, MI; and, until recently, Bear Trap Ranch, Colorado Springs, CO. These camps are used for weekend conferences during the school year, week-long training sessions at the beginning and end of summer break, and faculty and alumni retreats. Cedar Campus is the site of the InterVarsity Leadership Institute, a month-long summer program of Bible study, prayer and evangelism training. In 2015, a total of 20,800 people attended events at InterVarsity's training centers.
In conjunction with InterVarsity’s missions program, the training centers offer Student Training in Missions, STIM. This program seeks to prepare students for cross-cultural missions through a series of weekend programs that offer lecture, discussion and cross-cultural simulations.
In 1947 the InterVarsity/USA Board of Trustees determined that the Fellowship should develop its own publishing arm. With this action, InterVarsity Press (IVP) became an official part of InterVarsity’s ministry, overseeing the publication and distribution of books, booklets and Bible study guides in support of the campus work. IVP's Purpose statement is:
As an extension of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, InterVarsity Press serves those in the university, the church and the world by publishing resources that equip and encourage people to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord in all of Life.
For almost 70 years, IVP has published works by many important Christian authors including Francis Schaefer, John Stott, and Phillip Johnson. The IVP publication list includes many strong academic volumes, an excellent collection of titles dealing with racial reconciliation and a New York Times best seller. Over the years, many of the IVP books have received recognition by Christianity Today, the Canadian Word Guild and Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, among others.
- International Fellowship of Evangelical Students
- Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada
- Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (United Kingdom)
- InterVarsity Press
- "A Brief History Of The International Fellowship Of Evangelical Students" by Douglas Johnson, Lausanne, Switz.: IFES, 1964.
- "The Day of His Power" by Pete Lowman, Leicester : Inter-Varsity, 1988, ISBN 0-85110-794-X.
- "From the Campus to the World: Stories from the First Fifty Years of Student Foreign Missions Fellowship" by Alice Poynor, InterVarsity Press, 1986, ISBN 0-87784-947-1.
- "Student Power in World Missions" by David M. Howard, InterVarsity Press, 1979, ISBN 0-87784-493-3. (Brief history of North American students in mission beginning with the Haystack Movement through the SVM to the SFMF.)
- "The Growth of a Work of God" by C. Stacey Woods, InterVarsity Press, 1978, ISBN 0-87784-741-X. (Early history of InterVarsity/USA)
- Hunt, Keith & Gladys (1991). For Christ and the University: The Story of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship of the U.S.A. 1940-1990. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-4996-3.
- LePeau, Andrew; Doll, Linda (2006). Heart. Mind. Soul. Strength. An Anecdotal History of InterVarsity Press, 1947-2007. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-3369-2.
- "Annual Report". InterVarsity.org. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- "Executive Team". InterVarsity.org. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- "Financial Info - About". InterVarsity.org. June 6, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
- "America's Largest Charity Evaluator | Home". Charity Navigator. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
- "Better Business Bureau - Charity Review | InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA". Better Business Bureau. April 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
- The statements of faith are reprinted in Keith Hunt and Gladys Hunt: For Christ and the University: The Story of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the USA - 1940-1990 InterVarsity Press, 1991.
- Dias, Elizabeth (6 October 2016). "Top Evangelical College Group to Dismiss Employees Who Support Gay Marriage". Time Magazine. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
- Merrit, Jonathan (7 October 2016). "InterVarsity's Move on Gay Marriage". The Atlantic. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
- "Our Ministry". InterVarsity. 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2017-12-20.
- "History". Madden.customer.netspace.net.au. 1986-10-27. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
- "Inductive Bible Study Hints - Bible Studies". InterVarsity.org. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
-  Archived March 5, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Manuscript Bible Study Method | Bible Study Lessons | Free Inductive Study Guide, Topics & Tools". Bibleseo.com. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
- For Christ and the University by Keith and Gladys Hunt, InterVarsity Press, 1991
- "Beginnings The Forties and Fifties" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
- "About InterVarsity Press". Ivpress.com. Retrieved February 24, 2012.