InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

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For the Canadian organization, see Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship-USA
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship-USA logo.jpeg
Founded 1941 (1941)
Type Non-profit 501(c)3 organization
Focus U.S. college and university campuses
  • Madison, WI
Area served
985 chapters on 649 campuses in USA; and international work
40,219 (2014-15)
Key people
Jim Lundgren
$96.5M (2013-2014)
1,623 (2013-14)
Mission Evangelistic Christian community

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 2014-2015 school year, 1,137 campus staff members worked with 40,219 students and faculty in 985 chapters on 649 campuses in the United States.[1] 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. Jim Lundgren is the interim president of InterVarsity/USA, replacing Alec Hill, who stepped down for medical reasons. The president works with a nine-member cabinet.[2] It 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 2014, InterVarsity had $96.5M in revenue (with over 70% coming from charitable donations) and $93M in expenditures. InterVarsity is also a charter member in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), uses more than 85% of its revenue for staffworker salaries and other on-campus work, and is rated 4 stars (out of 4) by Charity Navigator.[3][4] InterVarsity nevertheless fails (as of 2015) to meet the Better Business Bureau's "Standards for Charity Accountability".[5]


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 Secretary General. 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[edit]

According to InterVarsity's official website, their purpose statement is the following:

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.[6] On October 20, 2000, the board of Trustees adopted a modified version of their previous statement of faith:


College ministry[edit]

The opening plenary session at Urbana 12, InterVarsity's 2012 Student Missions Conference, in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Of the 649 campuses where InterVarsity is present, many have multiple chapters which focus individually on Greek students, international students, nursing students, graduate students, and members of ethnic minorities. These include 69 ethnic-specific chapters ministering to Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Filipinos, and Latinos. Of the 38,410 active InterVarsity students, 16,444, or 41%, identify themselves as ethnic minority or multiracial students. InterVarsity has 219 Asian American staff, 80 Black/African American staff, 63 Hispanic/Latino staff, six American Indian or Alaskan Native staff, four Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander staff, and 38 “two or more races” staff.

Twenty-nine campuses have a ministry specifically for sorority and fraternity members. InterVarsity also ministers to international students on many campuses, including 69 campuses with specific international student fellowships. Graduate & Faculty Ministry staff work with 189 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 serving 1,109 students, NCF offers continuing education courses and the professional publication, Journal of Christian Nursing, to practicing nurses. A total of 348 professional nurses were involved with 24 Nurses Christian Fellowship local nurse chapters.

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 2014-2015 school year through its various outreach activities, large group meetings, and Bible studies, chapter leaders reported 4,269 first-time professions of faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. That's a 21 percent increase over the previous year, and 172 percent increase over ten years ago.

Bible Study[edit]

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,[7] a useful tool for inductive Bible studies.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]


InterVarsity students regularly participate in both long- and short-term missions projects. During the summer of 2015, 331 students participated in "Global Urban Treks," working in some of the poorest cities of the world, or "Global Projects," lingua-cultural or service ministries overseas. InterVarsity also sponsored "Urban Projects" in 32 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 held in St. Louis, Missouri. The Urbana 09 conference took place from December 27–31 in St Louis, Missouri and had an attendance of 15,800. Urbana 12 was held in St. Louis December 27–31, 2012. Of the approximately 16,000 attendees, 3,850 committed or recommitted their lives to following Jesus. More than 13,000 committed themselves to going to the mission field, either short-term, for 1–2 years, or longer than 2 years.


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 2013, a total of 21,211 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.

InterVarsity Press[edit]

Logo of InterVarsity Press.

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.[11] IVP's Purpose statement is:

For over 60 years IVP has published works by many important Christian authors including Francis Schaefer, John Stott, Philip Johnson, and Bill Hybels. 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vital Statistics - About". Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Executive Team". Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Financial Info - About". June 6, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  4. ^ "America's Largest Charity Evaluator | Home". Charity Navigator. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Better Business Bureau - Charity Review | InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA". Better Business Bureau. April 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "History". 1986-10-27. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Inductive Bible Study Hints - Bible Studies". Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  9. ^ [1] Archived March 5, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Manuscript Bible Study Method | Bible Study Lessons | Free Inductive Study Guide, Topics & Tools". Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Beginnings The Forties and Fifties" (PDF). Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  12. ^ "About InterVarsity Press". Retrieved February 24, 2012. 


  • "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. 

External links[edit]