Population: 313.9 million (2012)
Capital: Washington DC
Major religion: Christianity
IFES movement: InterVarsity/USA
Historically Americans have enjoyed a great amount of religious freedom. However, tension over conflicting values has resulted in a small but growing number of cases of intolerance toward Christian values on some campuses and elsewhere in society. Christians’ faith is also challenged by ubiquitous materialism and a culture of entertainment, which can easily distract them from their faith foundation.
- approximately 4,000 tertiary institutions, groups on 590 campuses
- 1021 full-time staff, 582 part-time, 605 volunteers
- established graduate ministry: 380,000 alumni
- largest chapter is at James Madison University, 694 students
- average campus group size is 69 students
The greatest strength of InterVarsity is the fellowship expressed between the 1,600 staff and around 40,000 core students; there is a clear and relatively unified doctrinal agreement, purpose and vision.
The movement has also experienced a new excitement about evangelism. Many chapters are using Proxe stations, artistic displays designed to initiate conversations, which lead to discussions about spiritual issues. Through the use of these and other outreaches, the number of conversions recorded in 2013 was the highest ever.
One challenge facing InterVarsity/USA is the longer term issue of increasing numbers of American students studying online, or commuting to campus each day and returning home. Leaders are considering how to alter their ministry model to meet these students where they are.
View from the inside
Tom Lin is InterVarsity/USA’s President. He says, ‘In 2010, the top 60 leaders of our movement gathered to seek the Lord’s guidance for strategic direction over the next five years. We fasted, we prayed; the unanimity was incredible. The lord led us to three main areas – growth, discipleship and evangelism.’
Among many scripture passages that have inspired Tom in his ministry is Deuteronomy 8. This chapter reminds him that we must obey God and depend totally on him – it is He who leads and guides us into the ‘good land’.
- for students to hear refreshing stories that feel so different from a dry, cold, increasingly secular world, to see truth and be attracted to Christ;
- for student groups to stand firm in the face of increasing pressure from secular university authorities.