The beginning of the new academic year is a great time to revisit our core commitments and be renewed in our excitement about them. ESN is a ministry of InterVarsity’s Graduate and Faculty Ministries (GFM). We encourage students and faculty to live out GFM’s Four Commitments for ministry: Spiritual Formation; Community; Evangelism and Service; and Integration of Faith, Learning, and Practice. Today, GFM Campus Staff Member David Suryk shares his vision for how these commitments work out in the context of campus ministry in the university. Thank-you David. To God be the glory! ~ Tom Grosh IV, Associate Director, Emerging Scholars Network
Some of the Contexts include:
- “In Christ” together as part of God’s One New Humanity
- In the University and academic disciplines as Christian communities
- In relationship with the other of our GFM Ministry Commitments: The Gospel is a royal announcement. It is the good news that the Jesus revealed in the Scriptures has been raised from the dead and reigns now as the world’s true Lord and King over everyone and everything. God thus summons all the peoples of the world—including all those at every university—to give allegiance to this Lord Jesus and to begin re-ordering their lives accordingly as members of his Church, as part of God’s One New Humanity in Christ for the sake of the world. This same Lord Jesus returns to Judge the world with justice and to renew all things “in heaven and on earth.” The Gospel is Good News because this Jesus is King.
1. Christian Spiritual formation. We continuously are being spiritually formed and shaped as persons by the many cultures that have made us who we are to this point in our lives. Our graduate and professional school education and our academic disciplines continue to shape us, consciously as well as unconsciously. Christian spiritual formation requires learning how we are being spiritually formed in ways that shape our loves and desires toward and away from the kingdom of God, toward and away from the love of God and our neighbors. Christian spiritual formation thus has a telos or final goal, which is Christlikeness in all that we are and do as members of God’s New Humanity. And so, it requires thoughtful intentionality in “putting on Christ” or the “new self” which is being re-created in the image of God’s Son as members of his One New Humanity.
2. Christian Community. We seek to establish Christian community among graduate and professional students, and among faculty members at the University. Our Christian fellowships are neither replacements for the local church nor are they para-church ministries. Rather they are para-academy Christian communities within the University that live out the new and alternative way of life in Christ together. We also seek to provide welcome space for both followers of the Lord Jesus and for those not yet his followers so that we might better learn who Jesus is and what it means to follow him as Lord. And so, we seek to be faithfully present in the University as distinctly Christian communities that bear witness to the good news that Jesus is Lord and how to follow him in a life of growing faithfulness.
3. Integration of faith, learning and practice. Lifelong following Christ requires bringing all aspects of our lives under Christ’s lordship as members of his One New Humanity and not least our teaching and scholarship. We are interested in doing evangelism largely in part so that those who study, do research and teach at the University will begin to integrate their faith, learning and practice “in Christ” as his followers. We might say that this means taking off the old academic self and putting on the new academic self. We are also interested in doing Christian scholarship that participates in bringing flourishing to the university and academic disciplines to participate in God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. And so, integration of Christian faith, learning and practice is a crucial aspect of who we are as followers of Christ in every academic discipline and calling.
4. Christian Witness. Christian witness involves being faithfully present in every corner of the University as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God is already at work in the lives of many of our colleagues and friends who are not yet followers of the Lord. We also believe that he desires to use us to help them learn who Jesus is and what it means to follow him as Lord in all aspects of life. Evangelism is thus an essential practice for God’s people at the University. And so, we seek to join the spiritual journeys of some of those in our departments and research groups with the goal of helping them become followers of the Lord Jesus for the first time with a view to being lifelong members of his Church, of his One New Humanity.
David Suryk [Rev. 08-09-17]
About the author:
David Suryk has served InterVarsity with Graduate and Faculty Ministries (GFM) since 1991 at the University of Illinois at Urbana where he also did his graduate work in philosophy. He says he’s a recovering analytic philosopher. He seeks to help GFM be faithful to our calling to the University among graduate students and faculty and especially in the area of the Gospel, Jesus and evangelism. He enjoys woodworking and home remodeling as well as using graduate students to help with these projects.