By Nigel Pollock
A Generational Longing
Through the pandemic, we have observed a spiritual hunger among young people. A new EFC survey of 3,025 Canadians reinforces this, revealing that Generation Z (young people between 9 and 24 years of age) attended online church most often during the pandemic, exceeding that of traditional middle-aged and senior churchgoers.
At our camps this summer, we witnessed the joy and excitement of some 4,000 children and youth engaging with one another in community, creation and spiritual conversations. On campus, first and second year students have been seeking us out as they return to in-person learning. We praise God for this!
In my 30 years in student ministry around the world and in Canada, I have heard hundreds of stories from people who became Christians and grew as faithful disciples partly through involvement with InterVarsity. Many of you reading have shared such stories and we love hearing them. We long to share new stories of young people growing in faith and making an increasingly positive difference in their communities.
Our ministry with emerging generations is anchored to these five aims:
This reflects our commitment to evangelism. We are unashamed of the gospel. We help young people discover Jesus in the Bible, in creation, in community. Culture continues to evolve but the good news of Jesus-centred on the cross, resurrection and future return of Jesus-does not change.
This captures our commitment to whole-life discipleship. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it and the Bible has application to every area of life. Following Jesus is an all-encompassing call that includes relationships, studies, work, money and leisure.
This reflects our commitment to Christian thinking. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds. It is vital that we engage with universities as centres of teaching, research and consideration of ideas. We help young people relate faith to culture and integrate faith with studies. Post-graduate study and teaching are examples of missionary callings.
This speaks to our commitment to the worldwide mission of the church. We are a founding member of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students where we continue to contribute and partner in global initiatives. We show hospitality to international students. We pray for and actively pursue social justice, reconciliation between peoples and solutions to global issues.
This affirms our commitment to leadership development. We invest in student leaders at camp, in high school and university and as they enter the workforce. We provide training, support and mentorship, encouraging young people to explore God’s calling and to be salt and light at home, at work and play.
Aims in Action
At our best, these aims run through everything we do. Children at a campfire discover Jesus in the beauty of creation. Through weekly Bible studies, students challenge and support each other to lead undivided lives. Post-graduate students discuss how faith informs their research while dining in a professor’s home. Canadian students pray with another IFES movement for International Day of Prayer. A young grad applies leadership skills learned at camp and campus in their new job.
In spite of continuing COVID restrictions, all of these things are happening. Again, we praise God!
Embracing Small Things
“What is the kingdom of God like?” asks Jesus. “What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19)
I, too, believe in small things. I believe as you add your little bit of faith to ours, we will see something remarkable take shape in young lives under the good hand of the Lord. As we unite around our five aims and imagine fresh ways of planting, watering and harvesting, we need your partnership. Without your prayers, service, encouragement and financial support InterVarsity would not be here today.
Will you stand with us in this season as we work at Growing Faith?