InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at UW-Parkside
Editor's note: This article uses excerpts from a story titled "Different But Similar" written by Gordon Govier for the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship web site.
The group sitting below the big copper sculpture in Main Place of Wyllie Hall stands out. Not because they look different than other students but because they meet on Friday afternoon, normally a quiet time on campus.
The group is UW-Parkside's Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and they are led by Chad Britten. Britten serves in the same capacity at Carthage College. In Govier's article, Britten said the two institutions are different but he likes the ministry potential at both schools.
Govier writes: Carthage is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, so many students have grown up in church-going homes.
"They come to campus and they're trying to figure out who they are and they're also trying to figure out what they believe about God," Chad observed. "They have a lot of foundational teaching but maybe haven't really wrestled with how to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives. I try to come alongside them and help them understand what it is to follow Jesus and have a relationship with Him now that they're entering adulthood."
At Parkside the students usually work 20-30 hours a week off campus and are often the first members of their family to attend college. They are highly motivated but don't have a lot of spare time, except maybe between classes.
"It is challenging to reach them," Chad said. "But when I see students waiting for their next class, I've found that's a great time to have conversations with them."
Basic evangelism, having conversations about God, is one of the things that Chad enjoys most about campus ministry with InterVarsity.
"As a staff worker I think it's a really exciting time to be on campus because more and more students haven't really had significant conversations about the Scriptures and who Jesus is," he said. "Even if they know the right answer and give the bumper sticker response about faith, and you ask them what that means, it seems like more and more students don't know. It's exciting to be one of those people that they can have a significant conversation with."
At Parkside, Chad's goal is to establish a vibrant witness for Christ on campus. The witness can change from year to year, the chapter currently numbers about 30. At Carthage there is a stronger tradition of campus witness and the chapter numbers about 100."It looks different at both schools but I think the desire is the same, to see students encounter God wherever they're at, whenever they come to campus," Chad said. "From that amazing things can happen, and we can be part of that."