'Every Campus' Movement Aims to Reach Hundreds of Unreached Colleges for Jesus
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In February, revival at Asbury University in Kentucky made headlines throughout the faith community and beyond. Now, a movement uniting national collegiate ministries for strategic collaboration has the potential to lead to widespread college revival and renewal. Known as "Every Campus," it aims to partner with local churches to reach more than 1,700 U.S. campuses with no organized ministry or Gospel presence.
Shannon Compere, executive director of Cru's U.S. campus ministry, told CBN News it's a significant and strategic movement. "What's so exciting about it is it's not one organization or two organizations but we have rallied over 100 organizations, churches saying, 'We care. We care about reaching this generation with the Gospel.'"
Every Campus started in 2017 when Cru and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship began formally working together and reaching out to other collegiate ministries. InterVarsity vice president Jon Hietbrink remembers an early meeting.
"God took that goodwill and trust and relationship that had been built and said, 'We can do better than just kind of be nice to each other and play well together, we can actually start to collaborate together,'" he said. "Really the driving question was, 'What could we do together that we could never do alone?'"
Since then, Every Campus has led to a new unity and strategy among these ministries.
"It's just such a picture of the body of Christ," said Compere. "This is what God has called us to. It's not about building Cru's kingdom, it's about building God's kingdom."
Thai Lam leads the Collegiate Day of Prayer and says the movement has stretched organizations that previously were somewhat competitive. "It really isn't competition at all, but how can we collaborate around reaching the unreached?" he said. "It really just is the dynamics of a 'we' — there's less of 'us versus them' building our brands."
In April, Every Campus held its first national summit, inviting participating ministries to gather at Cru's international headquarters in Orlando to strategize and pray. Leaders said key developments could pave the way for national revival and renewal, building on data points and growing spiritual hunger.
A new Every Campus collegiate ministry map has revealed for the first time that 1,726 campuses, nearly 40 percent of colleges in the U.S., have no Gospel presence. That includes a large portion of community colleges as well as historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions.
Paul Austin, national pioneering director for Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, says identifying those campuses has been critical. "We've never had the data. We've never been able to see the picture until Every Campus pulled us together, built the trust and we can look at the map together to recognize internal patterns but also actual collegiate ministry patterns and so that information is powerful."
"Before, we didn't really know where we were on campuses, let alone where anyone else is and so what ends up happening then is we end up sort of doubling efforts," said Hietbrink.
Every Campus is strategically partnering with local churches to reach the campuses with zero presence.
In Florida, East Coast Christian Center Pastor Scott Norwood exemplifies the tip of the spear. He oversees youth ministry at his church and leads a Cru student group at Eastern Florida State's Cocoa campus. In the fall, he will lead a team of Cru students and church volunteers to begin a new Cru ministry at a sister campus in Melbourne.
"I look at it going—the harvest is ripe. We just need some workers out there," said Norwood.
"I just saw the need for it to happen at Melbourne," said student Ellie Young. "There's so many lost people here. There's so many people that don't know Jesus."
The Every Campus strategy is harnessing these kinds of collaborative efforts between churches and national ministries to reach the unreached campuses. They're also seizing on what many leaders see as a growing spiritual hunger among college students, many of whom are not affiliated with a church.
"They have no religious background," said Compere. "They haven't stepped foot in a church, but 80 percent of them are spiritually open."
Brian Musser, Baptist campus minister at Drexel University, says he interacts with these students regularly.
"My equipment bag has to be full of more apologetics, more invitational or more just bare bones—what is the basis of Christianity—instead of actually going into the deeper things that life-long Christians or church kids could deal with," he told CBN News. "It's all kinds of the first-level, entry-level conversations and it's a lot messier."
Musser, who attended the Orlando summit, said Every Campus can strategically help to reach these students, via churches, at the campuses where national ministries previously have not placed staff. "There's probably a local church a lot closer than a professional campus ministry staff, so how do we empower those local churches to see the smaller schools in their neighborhoods and equip them?"
Mark Gauthier, Cru's vice president for North America, says there's already signs of fruit among high school students, which could eventually fuel spiritual growth on college campuses. For years, Cru's high school ministry has seen one in twelve come to Christ after a Gospel presentation. Last year, that number shot up to one in six.
"That is an unbelievable demonstration of the openness of this generation," said Gauthier.
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