Christian Ministries are Doing What It Takes to Reach Rising Leaders on College Campuses for Christ

To Christian ministries, many college campuses might as well be putting out “Not Welcome” signs. 

Activists and campus administrators increasingly target Christian groups. One weapon: accusing them of failing to meet non-discrimination policies.

“I think a lot of times these campuses, I think about the way the Soviet Union was years ago. They had like a few show churches to make it look like freedom of religion. But behind the scenes, they do a lot to suppress it and keep it out as much as they can,” said Matt Bennett.

Bennett saw a need for more Christian influence at elite universities.

“I think in many ways it’s been a train wreck for 50 years. People going through these places, getting secularized and going out. I mean, the research we’ve done, if you look at the most influential schools, maybe the top 20 and look at the top leaders in government, business, education, and media – about two-thirds of them went to those top 20 schools,” Bennett said.

Changing the Universities that Produce Leaders

In 2011 he started Christian Union to specifically focus on schools that consistently produce the nation’s leaders. That’s led to ten campus chapters, including all the Ivy League schools.

“If we want to change the nation, we’ve got to hit these people and minister to them,” Bennett says.

“These campuses have done us a great service; they’ve brought together some of the most leadership minded, ambitious young people in the country and then our part is simply to tell them about Jesus Christ and disciple them in the Lord.”

Christian Union has faced pushback from university officials, just as other Christian groups have on secular campuses. But Bennett says he has a more aggressive approach to discrimination – making it clear to the university that he won’t back down or go away.

“When you do that, the universities end up respecting you more because of it. They know they can’t just sort of roll right over you in whatever the circumstance is,” Bennett said.

A pretty radical approach that’s seen success on campus but actually met resistance from Christians for its aggressive stand. Bennett’s response is to point to the apostle Paul.

“We need to be firm about it. We see wherever the apostle Paul went in his travels there was either riots or revival. When you preach the gospel and you put it forth there’s often reaction, so we should expect that, that’s normal and should happen and not be afraid of it. There’s going to be some turmoil from time to time.”

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Caitlin Burke