Faculty Ministry Catalyst Portfolio

By Thomas Trevethan

Introduction

Welcome to an array of resources we believe can be used in the initial steps in establishing an InterVarsity faculty community on your campus. These resources are focused on communicating the mission, vision, and core values of InterVarsity’s Faculty Ministry. Finding a core of faculty who share this vision for faithful Christian discipleship and mission in the academy is the single most important resource for faculty ministry. We hope you will be one of those faculty choosing to join us in our mission: “to identify, encourage, and equip Christian faculty to be a redeeming influence within higher education.”

You Are Here.

We suggest that you begin by surveying the items in Section A. These are specially chosen for you, as a Faculty Ministry Catalyst, to establish a common foundation in our shared vision and articulate a way to proceed as you move onto campus and into relationships with faculty. Please ponder these items carefully. We are not suggesting that you follow them slavishly, by any means. But we do think there are some foundational ideas and methods you should embrace and apply to your particular circumstances. We hasten to add that these resources are also aimed at the faculty to whom you will relate. If you find any of them valuable for yourself, certainly sharing them with people you are inviting to become partners in ministry with you is a natural and important step to take.

**Take special note of the place of disciplined, missional prayer in the “Establishing a Faculty Community” article. Our task is socially and spiritually challenging, a sometimes lonely front in the struggle for the Kingdom of God. To fulfill our vision and mission requires divine and spiritual resources. You are not unfamiliar with these spiritual resources. Draw on them as you seek to relate to and form ministry partnerships with faculty.

A. Foundations: Resources for the Catalyst

1. Faculty Ministry Purpose: Mission, Vision, and Core Values

2. A Redeeming Influence? The heart of the vision.

3. Establishing a Faculty Community (PDF, 109 KB)

4. "How Religious are America’s College and University Professors?" (PDF, 185 KB)

A recent survey of faculty religious view by Neil Gross (Harvard University) and Solon Simmons (George Mason University). Available online from the Essay Forum on the Religious Engagements of American Undergraduates, a project of the Social Science Research Council.

5. Attending to the Ecology of the Pond

A bibliography of reading on the University and Christian faith.

Let's Go!

Now that you have surveyed the "map" and acquainted yourself with the journey ahead, we invite you to dip into the other resources in the portfolio. They are offered as models. As you go forward in faculty ministry we are trusting that you will create other and better resources to share with your colleagues. Please share with us what you create and think usable by others. Your first-hand knowledge of faculty work is valuable to us and to many who seek to join you in serving. Thank you for your service to faculty and to the Kingdom.

B. Some Ideas for Initial Gatherings of Faculty

1. A Dinner Party at Vanderbilt

InterVarsity staff and two professors at Vanderbilt hosted a simple dinner for Christian faculty and their spouses, leading to broader connections and the beginnings of community.

2. A Breakfast for New Faculty at Harvard

At the beginning of the academic year, Jeff Barneson and the other InterVarsity staff in the Boston area invited newly-arrived Christian faculty to gather for coffee and breakfast. This simple act of hospitality is a great way to welcome new faculty to your campus and help them connect to other Christians and the university. Jeff describes the breakfast in the context of other activities at the start of Harvard’s academic year.

3. Coffee and Discussion at Bradley University

At Bradley University, Christian faculty and their spouses gather for coffee once per semester, leading to stronger relationships and deeper conversations about following Christ in a university context.

4. Forming Faculty Prayer Groups

Four University of Michigan faculty report their experience of meeting together for prayer weekly over the last several years and offer advice for Christian faculty seeking to begin their own prayer group.

C. Bible Study Discussion Guides for Faculty

1. Jeremiah 29

“Seeking the Peace and Prosperity of the University”

2. Colossians 1

“There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!’”

3. Hebrews 1 and 2

“On the Doctrine of the Incarnation.”

D. Short Articles for a Reading Group

1. “Faculty Clubs and Church Pews” by William Stuntz Originally published Nov. 29, 2004, in Tech Central Station

William Stuntz, Professor at Harvard Law School, argues that churches and universities have much to learn from one another.

2. “The Place of Personal Faith in the Classroom” by John D. Barbour. Chronicle of Higher Education, January 25, 2008. Link (Subscription required)

John D. Barbour, professor of religion at St. Olaf College discusses what role personal religious faith should play in the college classroom.

3. “The Dawkins Confusion: Naturalism ‘ad absurdum‘” by Alvin Plantinga. Books & Culture, March/April 2007. Link

Alvin Plantinga, John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, reviews Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 2007).

E. Discussion Guides for a Book Reading Group

1. C. John Sommerville, The Decline of the Secular University (New York: Oxford, 2006). Discussion guide prepared by Dr. Sommerville

2. George Marsden, The Outrageous Ideas of Christian Scholarship (New York: Oxford, 1997). Discussion guide prepared by former IVCF Faculty Ministry National Director.

F. Two Common Objections by Sympathetic Faculty

1. “Not enough time.”

“How To Be Busy, Productive, and Happy: Time Management for the Christian Academic,” a lecture by Calvin B. DeWitt (University of Wisconsin, Madison). An mp3 of this lecture is available for download.

2. “This might work on some other campus, but it would never work here.”

“A Baker’s Dozen of Ideas for Faculty Ministry”

Thank you for including us in your chapter planting. We hope these resources have been helpful and we look forward to hearing about your work. Please let us know how it goes and how we can help you move forward on your campus.

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Thomas Trevethan is one of InterVarsity’s most gifted Bible expositors. He has also authored the books The Beauty of God’s Holiness (InterVarsity Press) and Our Joyful Confidence: The Lordship of Jesus in Colossians (DILL Press). Tom holds an MA from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife Barb live in Ann Arbor where we are sure he continues to affect all he encounters as he enjoys retirement from InterVarsity after many years as the staff worker for the University of Michigan.

We value the contribution of writers who are not employed by InterVarsity, some of whom may not necessarily agree with all aspects of InterVarsity's ministry, doctrine, or policies. These writings are the words of the writers and may or may not represent InterVarsity. The same is true of any comments which may be posted about any entries. Submitted comments may or may not be posted at the writer or the editor's discretion.