For the past four days I’ve been with a group of 30+ Evangelism Champions here in New Orleans. I was selected to be an Evangelism Champion (yes that’s the official title) for my region in Grad and Faculty InterVarsity. We’ve been exploring ways to intensify and improve evangelism in our movement in light of a renewed commitment nationally to planting new groups. Staff from all over the country are here – staff from a variety of ministry groups (Greek, Undergrad, GFM) are at the table.
Yesterday we took a break from all the analysis and conversation to actually make campus visits. E-champs divided into three groups and headed out for a day of interaction on campus using a tool called a Proxy Station (a visual, interactive Gospel communication station positioned in a visible, high-traffic area on campus). One group went to UNO (University of New Orleans) another went to Tulane and the third was sent to Louisiana State – up the road in Baton Rouge.
I got to be with the LSU group. An outdoor proxy near the student union. Most of the team made contact with students passing by the proxy or took off for fraternity row looking to connect with greek students. My teammate and I headed across campus to connect with a Christian faculty member in the Department of Mass Communications.
By the end of our day at LSU we’d had a really helpful conversation with our faculty member who was delighted to learn that InterVarsity would be coming to her campus. The groups reaching out to undergrad students had generated over 40 contacts and visited 17 fraternity/sorority houses. Before returning to NO, every student we made contact with was invited to a vision casting follow-up session at the campus chapel. A small but promising group of students gathered to explore next steps for launching Greek IV at LSU.
I’m really grateful for my Regional Team freeing me up to be a part of E-Champs. The idea this tactical team is to join E-champs, get oriented to what they do then engage in an assignment that’s funded from national resources. Tools, strategies, groups, events are all generated in a climate of careful experimentation and development. More on E-champs in a future post. My last morning session is about to get started.
E-Champ Team of IV staff at the end of our planting-day at LSU.
I came to this event 12 years ago when I was first contemplating a change in direction with InterVarsity. At the time I was nearing the end of seminary and nearing the end of my first 19 years with IV. I was a guest that spring.
This spring was my first experience with GFM National Staff meetings as an appointed staff member. It was great connecting with some familiar faces. Several staff I once knew from undergraduate ministry are now with GFM. By far the nicest surprise was bumping into Marcia Wang- a member of one of my Downstate Illinois staff teams way back in the day. Marcia is now the Associate National Director of the ministry division I work for.
Mundelein was also the first National Staff gathering since the announcement of the 2030 Calling. The 2030 Calling is the outcome of InterVarsity’s most recent National vision campaign and it reads like this:
Longing for revival, we catalyze movements that call every corner of every campus to follow Jesus.
Numerically, 2030 aims to see movements raised up at 2,500 campuses across the U.S. by the year 2030. Three broad initiatives undergird the vision -1) Become a thriving organization of thriving people (a great work of God should start with staff who are flourishing and growing from the inside out – not just people who generate more work) 2) Mobilizing more effective ministry partnerships (this won’t be solely InterVarsity’s thing – the scope is just too great) and 3) Planting exponentially (not additive, not incremental – based in the past decade of planting cohort work).
At Mundelein GFM was able to unpack 2030 and begin wrestling with its implications for reaching grad students and faculty. GFM can be thought of as a IVs top shelf contextual challenge. The true test of a vision aimed at reaching every corner of every campus may ell be: “Will it connect at the Grad-Faculty level?” Every corner includes every department, every program, every professional student, every researcher, every professor, every instructor, every adjunct. Every administrator? The whole university as a community and as a structure. That’s overwhelming to think about. The claim of the Gospel is that Jesus is Lord over everything – what does it look like to scale our mission comprehensively?
I’m excited to help my team grab a hold of 2030. I think some of our craziest stories are ahead of us. Do we really know what we’ve gotten ourselves into? If 2030 is genuinely from the Spirit of God of course we can sink our hopes into remarkable happenings in the days ahead.