Category Archives: InterVarsity

InterVarsity (IV)’s new form of exclusion: age discrimination

“I just recently left IV at my University. I’m an older student nearly a decade older on average with most of the IV members and its been very hard for me to have community with it. I hung in there for two full semsters but ended up leaving durring the summer term. The staff workers were great as where the student leaders and members, but unfortuatly they mostly turned toward each other and often forgot about older students. IV unfortuanly has polices in place that bar students older than 24 from attending events, confrences or even being student leaders. The staff workers while great just said well it would just be werid to have you or another older student there. After a few times of that I grew disillusioned with the IV community (not bibical community however) and eventually when I attempted to reach out people in community either rejected it, played along with it only to dump me and other older students, or raise minor issues to the staff members making older students feel unwelcome. As a result all older students have left IV here, its rather unfortuante.”

InterVarsity (IV) – “some of the most hurtful and painful messages I have ever received”

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“But I also felt like a ticking time bomb and a liability because I wasn’t straight. Even though I have shaped my spirituality around the command to “Seek first the Kingdom of God,” it never felt like a sound enough basis to help me navigate questions of faith and sexuality. Within my chapter of InterVarsity, the ever-present subtext was that anyone who struggled with same-sex attraction needed to concern themselves first and foremost with cleaning house spirituality, lest scandal befall the fellowship.”

“However, my experience has shown me that InterVarsity is scarcely willing to discuss matters of vocation with LGBTQ individuals and would rather hold us at arm’s length. Several years ago, I entrusted parts of my story to the Gay Christian Network when they produced a documentary called Through My Eyes. When I watched the video, I was glad to see that the documentary raised questions about how to provide pastoral care to teenagers and young adults wrestling with questions of faith and sexuality. I had several friends on InterVarsity staff looking for resources that focused on LGBTQ people in the church, so I sent them copies of the film. I reached out several times to see if they would be interested in talking further, but I received no replies. Additionally, I’ve received several emails from IV staff asking for prayer support when students have raised questions around LGBTQ sexuality, and I have replied to those emails only to receive no response from the people who sent them. This pattern continued even after I started blogging at A Queer Calling and sharing my experiences of being a celibate LGBT Christian more broadly.”

“I see an organization clinging to an understanding that being gay is necessarily a “past tense” reality for any Christian and perpetuating some of the most hurtful and painful messages I have ever received as I have done my best to seek Christ.”

InterVarsity (IV) – “telling her that I’m going to hell”, “surrounded her, blocking her exit, and verbally attacking her”

“Then she attended a “small group” Bible study. She realized the others were far more fundamentalist and evangelical than she was comfortable with.

When a disparaging comment was made about non-believers, my daughter spoke up. She told them that her mother is an atheist, and said nice things about me. They responded by telling her that I’m going to hell and, “Other horrible things,” as she put it. She said that at one point, they surrounded her, blocking her exit, and verbally attacking her.

When she was finally able to leave, she belatedly Googled the national organization of which this campus group is a part. She decided that InterVarsityis an organization she wants nothing to do with, and that she should have looked into them sooner. They’re a bad fit for her in dozens of ways.

She ran into a “friend” from the group recently, and when he asked if she would come back, she said that she wouldn’t, and she made it clear why.

I’m just so glad she got out before they brainwashed her or destroyed her self-esteem.”

Excerpt from Reddit post:

InterVarsity (IV) – “I felt ostracized and excluded.”

“I was in Intervarsity my freshman year of Uni. My experience was kind of a mixed bag. IV gets small groups right. Bible study with 4 other guys gave us an intimate level to talk theology and hold each other accountable to our word.

Large group, I hated. The IV group as a whole was very exclusive. Everyone was so tight knit, and wasn’t really willing to step out and interact with you if you weren’t an “insider.” I am very much an extrovert, so I tried making friends and introductions, but no one was really interested in interacting. I felt ostracized and excluded. Hardly what the church is supposed to feel like. After being excluded so many times, I left IV and joined the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, and have loved it ever since.”

A Reddit comment on:

InterVarsity (IV) – “my grandma and aunt’s best friend were convinced the ministry was a cult”

This is an excerpt from a Reddit post titled: Do I Belong to a Cult?

The author details how his/her involvement in InterVarsity (IV) as a leader lead him to become estranged from his/her family, as far as taking up 18-23 hours per week and making the author miss important family events.

“In the comments below, I decided to disclose the name of the organization. I was/am involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.”

“As my campus ministry began to take up more and more of my time and money, my parents became less and less pleased with my involvement.”

In some ways, my campus ministry was a part-time job: the first few weeks of the school year were spent doing outreach, hosting game nights and trips, and having one on ones with the people in my dorm. Between my bible study, bible study prep meeting, large group meeting, and leaders meeting, I was spending about 8 hours a week doing “scheduled” ministry. Another 10-15 hours were spent socializing with non-Christians, attending church, meeting up for prayer, etc. …

“It was around this time that my parents started throwing around words like “cult” and “brainwashed.” I learned that my aunt had been involved in the same campus ministry thirty years ago, and that my grandma and aunt’s best friend were convinced the ministry was a cult. My mom had never gotten along well with my aunt, and was quick to make the same accusations about my involvement.”

“Again, I wanted to try to involve my family in the decision. I had several tumultuous phone conversations with my parents. They believed that my staff workers were using me for their own gain, and that they had no concern for my academics or financial stability. Their concerns were founded on half truths: Living in the dorms would indeed be another financial burden, and I would face substantially more difficult classes my junior year.”

InterVarsity (IV) – “The gospel is the reason of the existence of us, Christians, and that wasn’t the main topic”

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*Note: This is from the comments section of InterVarsity’s official website.

“I started to go to intervasity in my freshman year, but i left after having almost a year there. I am Christian and a passionate lover of God, so the first thing i did was to look for a Christian club at school and i found Intervasity. I really liked to found nice people that really love God as well, but there were several important things missing there.

As any other Christian Group intervasity has it’s pros and cons, which i don’t judge because is a group form by humans and humans are not perfect, but the two main things that a Christian group can not lack of are: The preaching of the Gospel, which is the Grace of God for the world and the human incapacity to reach salvation by any means or deeds, but Only Christ and nothing else, because he lived, died and rise for us, and nothing can be add to that. I found myself in a group that believes in Salvation= Christ + our works, although the second part was not talk openly and clear. The gospel is the reason of the existence of us, Christians, and that wasn’t the main topic in the meetings i participated on for a year.

The last and second thing, is that at least in my campus, i didn’t see too many ways of reaching people from school, most of the activities were for the present members of the club and that to me wasn’t right, we should share more, and more the great news of God! OUR biggest problem was resolved in Jesus, we are free from sin, we are now free and have a great place to go after death, everybody should know this! So i decided to go by myself sharing the gospel with others around me(although unfortunately in a minor scale), and using the time i used to go to the club, to learn more from the bible in another place. Just truly trying to help. God bless.”

InterVarsity (IV) – “I feel lost and burned out”

Excerpt from a Reddit post titled: “I’m getting burned out too quickly and losing interest. I don’t want to continue to serve with my campus ministry.”

“I don’t know if I can keep going. I’m a college senior who is taking a full load of classes, dealing with two simultaneous projects that require professional work in the community, I work part-time, and I have an internship. On top of all this, I’m a small group leader in an on-campus ministry called Intervarsity.


I feel lost and burned out. All I wanted to do in the meeting was get up and leave. I no longer want to be in a position of leadership, but I’m one of our senior members and the leadership is needed. I feel trapped. I need to focus on this last year because I need to start looking at getting a job after graduation, but any free time that I have from my courses and responsibilities is taken up by something with Intervarsity and I’m honestly sick of it. If I stopped being a leader, I believe there would be some negative tension between me and the other leaders, plus I would be hurting the team by leaving. I really want out, but I feel the obligation to serve. My selfishness is getting the best of me.

I’m also gaining apathy and frustration with Christianity in general. I don’t want to attend church, I want to just stream it (if I even feel like it), and honestly, I just want something to get me “excited” about the faith again, if that’s even a thing.

I didn’t know where else to turn (I’ve already had a shouting match towards God. I’m sure He understands that I’m frustrated and I rant frequently to Him.) and I don’t even know if this is the right sub for this. Any advice would be much appreciated.”

InterVarsity (IV) – “a lot of prejudices”, “treated him differently, looked down on him, almost”

Excerpt from:
*Note: This is from the comments section of InterVarsity’s official website.

“I found that IV kids come with a lot of prejudices. One instance that perfectly illustrates this: I remember bringing a friend of mine to IV small group, and everyone was really friendly toward him, that is until we went around and introduced ourselves.

My friend was part of a fraternity on campus, and as soon as he mentioned that, people in our small group immediately started treating him differently. My friend had grown up in a Christian family, and even made time to go to church at college whenever he could, not much unlike the other members of our small group. And yet, our small group still treated him differently, looked down on him, almost. If my friend had something to say, sometimes it wouldn’t take it seriously. Our small group, was especially hard on him–Whenever my friend would bring up a question our small group leader would be very defensive, and answer in a very haughty way, almost as if reprimanding him for just bringing up the question in the first place.

Fortunately, my friend kept coming to the small group meetings every week that semester, but unfortunately, every week he tried earning our small group’s respect in vain. And that REALLY disappointed me. I was especially disappointed that my small group leader (who we all supposedly should have looked to for advice, for leadership) was one of the hardest on my friend.

Even more disappointing, my small group leader was a senior–it’s one thing to be an underclassmen coming to college for the first time and having certain prejudices and misconceptions, but as a senior, you would think that he’d know better than to treat my friend the way he did. But even after 4 years of being an active member of Intervarsity, my small group leader just didn’t. Overall, a small group is meant to support, encourage, and nurture is members through their scripture-studying-journey, if you will, but sadly, my friend didn’t get any of that.”

InterVarsity (IV) – “that you could only change the world if you were on IV leadership”

Excerpt from:
*Note: This is from the comments section of InterVarsity’s official website.

“I was a part of IV for 6 years of undergrad and 2 years of masters work. I always found that there was a certain culture in IV that I knew was not real life. I saw this in the way that discipleship worked. The guys that were discipled by the IV staff workers or exec. leaders always ended up acting, and talking, and praying, and leading like the person who was discipling them. This had to be a compliment to the character of the leaders because imitation is a sincere form of flattery, but it seemed off, and me being a creative music major who was pouring between 25-30 hours a week into crafting my sound and trying to stand apart, becoming like my staff worker was not my intention or desire. So, I butted heads with my staffworker constantly.

Looking back on this I felt like I was hungry for Jesus and IV was offering Christian agendas and programs, and I wasn’t necessarily drawn to that, because it wasn’t feeding what I was hungry for. And that led to more butting heads with staff workers and exec members, and led to long talks about IV’s vision statement and IV’s plans and programs that would help, “get me on board”…Now if most people had this experience in IV they would quit, but I stuck around and found much value by being apart of IV. I love it and I wouldn’t change my experience in it because it helped shaped me and grow me in ways that would not have happened any other way.

But there are some things I wished they would have done differently…I felt that there was always talk about being a world changer but that you could only change the world if you were on IV leadership or lived in strategically missional communities around campus, or if you went onto IV staff, or if you went to IV training, but if you didn’t do these things you could change the world by supporting IV staff or giving scholarships to students to go to training events. Which are all good things, but they seem so short-sighted. If a student in IV spends 4 years in college but 30 years in the work force shouldn’t more time be spent on preparing a student for life outside of college? Or if a small percentage end up on IV staff and the vast majority end up if professional fields why not devote lots of time and energy or invest in training that would help those more instead of devoting the most time and energy and directed training at the IV junkees.

It just did not sit well with me that the only time we talked about going into the professional world was when we were about to graduate, and that it was too little too late.”

InterVarsity (IV) – “got kicked out of IV for being ‘rebellious’ and requiring group ‘discipline'”

“When I went to college, I was a christian and strongly encouraged by my pastor and high school youth leaders to link up with IVF. I joined an IV small group my first week living in the dorms and the people in the small group were actually nice people. They were really pleasant, really sincere, and at the time I found the bible studies to be engaging so that was fine.

The one downside was that they constantly pestered everyone to go to the large group meetings, which were totally different from the small groups. The large groups were more like a pseudo church service. I went once when they had a super intense talk about sexual purity and how that meant not touching your genitals or anyone else’s until you were locked into marriage. I went to a couple more large groups that were equally creepy and I decided it wasn’t for me.

Later, the leaders of my small group, got kicked out of IV for being “rebellious” and requiring group “discipline”. As near as I could figure, this came from them expressing contrary views to the leadership on how the club’s elections should be run, namely that they believed the “pastor-liason guy” shouldn’t be able to pick the group’s officers by being solely in charge of nominations. I left after that.”

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