“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.”
“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.”
“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: https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/3ucarc/im_thankful_that_my_daughter_chose_to_stand_up/
“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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
“I’ve had experience with both IV and CCC, and the comment someone made earlier about how invasive they are is spot-on. They try to take over your whole life – your time, your social circle, your reading material, etc.
The main difference between those two groups seems to be that CCC comes right out of the gate with the less popular material (Creationism, anti-gay messages, very aggressive evangelism, non-Christians doomed to Hell, etc.) whereas Intervarsity believes all that but keeps it under wraps (to a degree anyway) to attract more students.”
“two cents in case anyone still reads this: my freshman year in college I joined Campus Crusade. I met some overeager sophomores at an ice cream social who seemed like the squeaky clean good Christian influence types, and being lonely away from home, I joined. I met several girls from my dorm and we all went together to the weekly meetings/bible studies.
Early in the semester, one of the leaders’ moms joined us and started gradually taking over. She overstepped many leadership boundaries and our weekly bible studies started becoming very weird. She did a series on “maleness and femaleness” (still don’t know what the hell she was talking about), and when the girls met separately, the leaders would push and push people to share until someone cried. Major boundary violation.
Quite a few people started leaving, and soon our meetings were down to less than half what they were in the beginning. Our leaders were quick to boldly proclaim that “they just don’t know the truth.” I admit I ignored several of the defectors for a while, thinking they were backsliding. The messages were becoming weirder and weirder, and during one bible study the message was over the top weird, it made no sense. Afterward, the same night, I approached a girl I trusted with some questions and doubts about the night’s message. She looked at me like I had four heads and proceeded to ignore me. On the way back to the dorm, my friends and I almost in unison said, “that was SO weird! right? let’s never ever go back! K!” and that was that. From that point on, the members of “the cult” would not speak to us or acknowledge us AT ALL. (Later they all went on to marry – each other. Creepy? Also, it turned out that the leader’s mother caused a scandal in a local church and was asked to leave. Crusade got better in later years after she left.) I knew I had made the right decision. I went through a major grief & separation period after that, questioning my faith completely, and what I’d now consider a period of depression.
Luckily my friends and I stuck together. We started partying for a while, and then we checked out other groups. We visited Baptist Student Union which I found revoltingly conservative and vowed to never go back after a skit in which several boys made degrading comments about gay people.
I ended up in IVCF, “the liberal hippy group” and made several new friends there. After spending my whole life in church, I couldn’t just give up, despite a semester’s worth of spiritual abuse and cultlike experiences. I also went to a local church’s young adult service, which grew extremely popular, where I met several men involved in the Navigators at the local military base that ended up being kind of controlling toward us girls. I was involved in many more bible studies, went on missions trips, was an intern for the church’s youth group, and just threw myself in completely, despite nagging feelings that I didn’t quite agree or belong. I continually subjected myself to my own spiritual abuse, befriending people that were terrible friends for the sake of “accountability” and guilting myself when the friendships failed, believing I wasn’t good enough.
Long story short, yes I did participate, and overall, I believe I got burned pretty badly. IVCF is the only group I don’t have terrible memories of, but if I could do it over again, I’m not sure I would join that group either.”
“I was a member of InterVarsity. In fact, I was even an officer, which meant I had to sign a card saying I agreed with their statement of faith. In truth, I joined because I was lonely and felt alienated – not an uncommon feeling for a college freshman, though I didn’t know that at the time. I was looking for a place to belong. Because I didn’t believe in Jesus I never really felt comfortable, but I met some nice people and still stay in touch with a couple of them. I’ve fessed up to them about why I joined InterVaristy and what my beliefs are now. We’re still friendly, though I don’t know how much of that is because they are hoping to save my soul.”