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Beyond the facts and figures of global evangelism lay individual people who God is using in creative ways to transform this world. Many of these people have inspired us as well. We want you to meet them.

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It’s “All Hands on Deck” as Evangelism Becomes a Priority across a Number of U.S. Campuses

A Vision Becoming Reality

Just three years ago the vision to see Wheaton College’s campus infused with an ethos of evangelism was birthed. This became known as the Evangelism Initiative (EI). Today, this vision has not only been brought to life at Wheaton, but is being embraced and integrated on Christian liberal arts college campuses throughout the U.S.

“We must be asking ourselves, ‘What role does evangelism have in the academy?’ says Laurel Bunker, dean of campus ministries and campus pastor at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Bethel is one of 15 campuses embracing the EI vision.

For years, we have been separating academics from our personal witness. We haven’t done ourselves any favors by not thinking critically to engage the culture. We must remember that the people who formed these higher education institutions were the church—we are part of the called-out ones. We’ve become soft in our apologetic. In an effort to provide students with a good liberal arts education, we have sacrificed helping them build their relationships with Jesus and their evangelism calling.

The goal of the EI is to accelerate evangelism in the United States by deploying 50,000 Christian college and university graduates each year who will embrace and value their calling as gospel witnesses. This translates to one million evangelizing graduates within 20 years.

Billy Graham Center Institute for Strategic Evangelism associate director Jerry Root and Wheaton College professor Peter Walters serve as director and associate director, respectively, of the EI. To date, Wheaton’s campus has been deeply impacted by this initiative. Some of the fruit of the initiative include:

  • Developing student mentoring groups which focus on fostering a lifestyle of evangelism
  • Producing an evangelism training component for campus small groups
  • Supporting various forms of evangelism training for campus staff, students, faculty, and administration
  • Supporting various evangelistic outreach opportunities online and in person
  • Establishing the Wheaton Evangelism Group (WEG) to assess, advise, and recommend to the college president on ways the college might be more intentional about creating an ethos that allows the campus community to pick up by both intention and contagion an interest in evangelism that will carry with them wherever they go in the world

Walters, among others, is excited that this passion for evangelism has caught on at Wheaton:

For those at Wheaton, it can be particularly challenging to share your faith with others since you may not interact with non-Christians on a regular basis. The question is, how do you keep spiritually alive when you don’t interface with non-Christians? Unfortunately, this particular area has dropped off many people’s radar screens so we have been focused on getting it back on. We need to be trained in our fishing tactics—in how to be the light of Christ in our world. God has been doing some wonderful things on this campus in this area.

Spreading the Vision

Since seeing great success at Wheaton, the vision to see this implemented on other campuses became more pronounced. A year ago, Root started meeting with other Christian liberal arts campus leaders to investigate ways EI could be integrated on their campuses. These efforts culminated this past fall, when 53 campus leaders from 15 campuses (including Belhaven, Biola, Cornerstone, Gordon, Taylor, and more) gathered to explore how to better integrate evangelism on their campuses. The result was astounding—nearly 100% indicated a desire to create a committee or task force which could provide leadership for an evangelism initiative at their institution.

Since the Dallas gathering, ongoing follow up has been occurring to ensure these campuses adopt the EI and set up committees to give oversight to the EI on their campus. Walters has been supervising this follow-up endeavor. 

Campus-wide Participation

The Dallas gathering was an eye-opening experience for Bunker, and one which sparked new ideas for seeing the EI on Bethel’s campus. “It was thrilling to hear from college presidents that evangelism mattered to them,” she shares. “I was stunned at the brilliance, gentility, humanness, and love for God that Jerry [Root] displayed. It was a statement that Jesus is Lord in the lives of brilliant people who have somehow found a way to address the concerns of the academy. I am committed to seeing this blend of the academy and our calling as Christ-followers be realized here at Bethel.”

Bethel already partners with a number of evangelists and organizations focused on evangelism; however, for Bunker there is something uniquely special about the EI. “It is bringing together curricular and co-curricular faculty and staff and other parts of the campus for a specific goal which will bring clarity as to why we exist. With a campus-wide effort, our students will be prepared to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ now and after they graduate. It’s all hands on deck.”

Walters also explains that there is something very powerful in a top-down approach: “What the leadership is doing, so will the people. It’s a general behavioral principle that what the leadership deems important will rise to the top of the priority list. Getting all parts of campus involved in something like this creates a sense of priority, importance, and excitement.”

As Walters and others continue to meet with Christian campuses around the U.S., their hopes are high. Their vision is that within the next five to ten years 100 different colleges and universities would join this initiative. That’s one million students deployed to be effective witnesses where Christ has called them.

 

It’s “All Hands on Deck” as Evangelism Becomes a Priority across a Number of U.S. Campuses

A Vision Becoming Reality

Just three years ago the vision to see Wheaton College’s campus infused with an ethos of evangelism was birthed. This became known as the Evangelism Initiative (EI). Today, this vision has not only been brought to life at Wheaton, but is being embraced and integrated on Christian liberal arts college campuses throughout the U.S.

“We must be asking ourselves, ‘What role does evangelism have in the academy?’ says Laurel Bunker, dean of campus ministries and campus pastor at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Bethel is one of 15 campuses embracing the EI vision.

For years, we have been separating academics from our personal witness. We haven’t done ourselves any favors by not thinking critically to engage the culture. We must remember that the people who formed these higher education institutions were the church—we are part of the called-out ones. We’ve become soft in our apologetic. In an effort to provide students with a good liberal arts education, we have sacrificed helping them build their relationships with Jesus and their evangelism calling.

The goal of the EI is to accelerate evangelism in the United States by deploying 50,000 Christian college and university graduates each year who will embrace and value their calling as gospel witnesses. This translates to one million evangelizing graduates within 20 years.

Billy Graham Center Institute for Strategic Evangelism associate director Jerry Root and Wheaton College professor Peter Walters serve as director and associate director, respectively, of the EI. To date, Wheaton’s campus has been deeply impacted by this initiative. Some of the fruit of the initiative include:

  • Developing student mentoring groups which focus on fostering a lifestyle of evangelism
  • Producing an evangelism training component for campus small groups
  • Supporting various forms of evangelism training for campus staff, students, faculty, and administration
  • Supporting various evangelistic outreach opportunities online and in person
  • Establishing the Wheaton Evangelism Group (WEG) to assess, advise, and recommend to the college president on ways the college might be more intentional about creating an ethos that allows the campus community to pick up by both intention and contagion an interest in evangelism that will carry with them wherever they go in the world

Walters, among others, is excited that this passion for evangelism has caught on at Wheaton:

For those at Wheaton, it can be particularly challenging to share your faith with others since you may not interact with non-Christians on a regular basis. The question is, how do you keep spiritually alive when you don’t interface with non-Christians? Unfortunately, this particular area has dropped off many people’s radar screens so we have been focused on getting it back on. We need to be trained in our fishing tactics—in how to be the light of Christ in our world. God has been doing some wonderful things on this campus in this area.

Spreading the Vision

Since seeing great success at Wheaton, the vision to see this implemented on other campuses became more pronounced. A year ago, Root started meeting with other Christian liberal arts campus leaders to investigate ways EI could be integrated on their campuses. These efforts culminated this past fall, when 53 campus leaders from 15 campuses (including Belhaven, Biola, Cornerstone, Gordon, Taylor, and more) gathered to explore how to better integrate evangelism on their campuses. The result was astounding—nearly 100% indicated a desire to create a committee or task force which could provide leadership for an evangelism initiative at their institution.

Since the Dallas gathering, ongoing follow up has been occurring to ensure these campuses adopt the EI and set up committees to give oversight to the EI on their campus. Walters has been supervising this follow-up endeavor. 

Campus-wide Participation

The Dallas gathering was an eye-opening experience for Bunker, and one which sparked new ideas for seeing the EI on Bethel’s campus. “It was thrilling to hear from college presidents that evangelism mattered to them,” she shares. “I was stunned at the brilliance, gentility, humanness, and love for God that Jerry [Root] displayed. It was a statement that Jesus is Lord in the lives of brilliant people who have somehow found a way to address the concerns of the academy. I am committed to seeing this blend of the academy and our calling as Christ-followers be realized here at Bethel.”

Bethel already partners with a number of evangelists and organizations focused on evangelism; however, for Bunker there is something uniquely special about the EI. “It is bringing together curricular and co-curricular faculty and staff and other parts of the campus for a specific goal which will bring clarity as to why we exist. With a campus-wide effort, our students will be prepared to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ now and after they graduate. It’s all hands on deck.”

Walters also explains that there is something very powerful in a top-down approach: “What the leadership is doing, so will the people. It’s a general behavioral principle that what the leadership deems important will rise to the top of the priority list. Getting all parts of campus involved in something like this creates a sense of priority, importance, and excitement.”

As Walters and others continue to meet with Christian campuses around the U.S., their hopes are high. Their vision is that within the next five to ten years 100 different colleges and universities would join this initiative. That’s one million students deployed to be effective witnesses where Christ has called them.