Celebrating The National Campus Ministry Leaders Summit

This spring, over 70 senior leaders of 35 campus ministries or related organizations met at the Zacharias Institute for the first-ever National Campus Ministry Leaders Summit (NCMLS).

These leaders were invited to the Summit by Steve Douglass (President, Campus Crusade for Christ International), Tom Lin (President, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship), Doug Nuenke (President, The Navigators), Woody White (President, The Day Foundation), and Ravi Zacharias (Founder and President, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) for one purpose: to discuss innovative, collaborative ways to reach every campus in the United States with a gospel movement of God.

“When I first heard about the conference, I thought, ‘This is going to be good.’ But let me tell you, after being here [for three days], it’s been great,” said Steve Douglass. “I learned some things about organizations that I did not otherwise know and that I’m going to benefit from in the years to come; I’ve been [working in campus ministry] for almost 50 years, so you might be surprised by that, but it happened.”

Steve Douglass (Cru) addresses peer leaders at the Summit.

Douglass said his most significant takeaway, however, was the discussions with the participants at the Summit. When it comes to collaboration, both humility and commitment to action are key, Douglass said, both of which were apparent to him among peers at the Summit: “You’ve got to be coming at it in the point of view of unselfish humility. And one of the neat things about this conference has been how much of that I have sensed. In my personal conversations with people, they’ve said ‘Look, whatever I’ve got it’s yours to use.’ I can tell you if that spirit prevails, and I’m sure it will, you will see incredible improvements on college campuses across America.”

The Summit kicked off with a challenging talk from author and global apologist Ravi Zacharias.

“We need each other. There are people out there who want to see the tide of Christendom stop,” Zacharias said. “Ask God one question: ‘What would you have me do for such a time as this?’ No one will replace Billy Graham. But we have the campuses before us. We see the racial tensions and divide, the hurts of people struggling with their own identities. What a powerful message we have with the gospel as the centerpiece. Can we seek God to see what He would have us do?”

Opening address from Ravi Zacharias.

Each day at NCMLS began with worship and included challenging plenaries, topical Q&A panels, intensive small group discussion, shared meal times, and breakout seminars. In these sessions, the peer leaders at the Summit shared their best thinking on topics most relevant to the current cultural climate: sexuality, multi-ethnicity, partnering with faculty, discipleship models, evangelism initiatives, campus access challenges, and more. Throughout, ministry leaders prayed and discussed how their organizations could work together for greater impact.

“The collective impact of all the phenomenal ministries gathered at the Summit is life-changing for tens of thousands of students, faculty, and administrators,” said Carson Weitnauer, a member of the Summit’s steering committee. “But we know there are still hundreds of campuses that lack an active ministry presence. So we’ve come together around a vision to reach every campus and every student through strategic collaboration.”

The feedback during the conference was overwhelmingly positive. Alec Hill, President Emeritus of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said he thought people would retreat during the break times, but was amazed at the palpable energy and the desire for continued conversation after the talks, during breaks, in the elevators, or on the drive from the hotel to the conference in the mornings.

“People didn’t leave. They dove into the conversations,” he said. “I think people are hungry for more because they realize the mission we all do is much too big for any of us to do [alone]. Part of collaboration is simply trust, which is built on relationships and being together and knowing each other’s stories–that’s happened this week.”

“Every one of us, I’m sure, can point to example after example in the history of the church when God empowered a group smaller than ours to turn back even greater challenges,” said Vince Vitale, the Director of the Zacharias Institute. “Remembering God’s steadfast faithfulness to his people excites me, and it leads to a simple question: What would be the result of the Summit if every one of us were fully committed to listening for the voice of God, humbling ourselves before him and before each other, and supporting and working with one another in the most generous ways possible?”

The conversations that began at the NCMLS took place on a scale that has not yet been seen before. After the Summit concluded, the ministry leaders strongly agreed that they want to gather again to build on what God has already stirred in our hearts. We believe that what it has not been possible to do separately can be accomplished as we intentionally collaborate together. Our prayer is to see the advancement of the kingdom of God at every university in America.

Organizations Represented at the Summit

  • The Andringa Group
  • Becky Pippert Ministries
  • Campus Renewal
  • Coalition for Christian Outreach
  • Chi Alpha
  • Claremont Graduate University
  • Congregación León de Judá (Boston, MA)
  • Consortium of Christian Study Centers
  • Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
  • Cru
  • The Day Foundation
  • Fellowship Bible Church (Roswell, GA)
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • The Gospel Coalition
  • The Grace and Mercy Foundation
  • Harvest Bible Chapel (Chicago, IL)
  • The Impact Movement
  • InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
  • Jude 3 Project
  • The Luke 18 Project
  • M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
  • McClellan Foundation
  • Mission America Coalition
  • National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
  • The Navigators
  • North American Mission Board
  • Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics
  • The Pinetops Foundation
  • Radical
  • Ratio Christi
  • Reformed University Fellowship
  • Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
  • University of Virginia
  • The Veritas Forum
  • YoungLife[/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion]

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