By Carlee Colvard, Staff Writer
One of the nation's largest Christian organizations, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, has announced that it will be leaving the campuses of 19 colleges in California.
Four years ago, the Supreme Court made the decision that a Christian organization had to allow everyone the opportunity to become a leader in the ministry, including non-Christians. Now that the policy is being implemented in California universities, InterVarsity has decided to withdraw from the universities this fall.
InterVarsity is not simply throwing in the towel. It has decided it will have to find another way to approach college ministry. Through avenues such as social media, banners and students on campus, InterVarsity will reach out to students at the universities without being directly affiliated with the college.
Jeff Rankin, Associate Director of Christian Studies at North Greenville University, said InterVarsity's decision to leave the campuses is both positive and negative. He said it is negative that our country does not allow for this freedom of speech and for the organization to make the guidelines of its mission.
Rankin said, "It is going to force the individual students to reach out to their peers more explicitly."
Rankin also stated that the same problems are going on in the church today. He said, "We can easily get used to the organizational power of the church to invite people to church rather than reach out to them and share the Gospel. We tend to fall back on the organization. The call of the Gospel is for us to develop relationships and share the message of Christ."
While InterVarsity will have many obstacles to overcome as it faces the challenge of reaching students with the Gospel even though it will be based off campus, students will have the opportunity to stand up amidst the persecution and become serious about sharing the Gospel.
Rankin stated, "Culture and values are changing and that makes things challenging, but maybe it helps us to be what Christ calls us to be - light. Light doesn't make much of an impact if it's not dark."
Greg Jao, InterVarsity's national field director, said, "Our campus-access challenges give this generation of students an opportunity to reinvent campus ministry. Even as we use new tools and techniques, we remind students that effective ministry is ultimately relational. It's about students inviting other students to follow Jesus."
Rankin said, "I have faith in the younger generation. I've seen positive qualities in students I teach and I believe that ultimately the Gospel wins. Persecution brings out the best in the church."