College and university students across the nation are well into their frat parties, chemistry assignments, sports teams, writing and math projects, political science challenges and all those other events that fill up campuses.
At Colorado Christian University, students likewise are taking on the requirements of English, history, math, pre-med studies, science, accounting, biology and other majors. But they have one additional assignment this year.
“In the 97 years since the beginning of CCU, wars have been fought; novel ideas have gained popularity and lapsed; great men and women have been celebrated and forgotten. But the true hope of the world remains the same. ‘There is salvation in no one else,'” college President Bill Armstrong writes in his introduction to an evangelism tool kit that is part of the schools “Year of Evangelism.”
Its goal is to remind people what Peter proclaimed of Jesus 20 centuries back.
Armstrong told WND that the campuswide focus for the 2010-2011 school year is on evangelism. Students will prepare their own Christian testimonies; outreaches are planned for prayer breakfasts, prisons, soup kitchens and more; churches and other colleges are being invited to join and other work is scheduled to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ from shore to shore.
But wait, one might say, isn’t America a Christian nation, or at least founded by Christians on Christian ideals?
Maybe so. But these are the current figures from sources such as Barna, Gallup, Pew and others that have Armstrong concerned:
- There are about 100 million unchurched people in the U.S.
- Only 9 percent of those who call themselves born-again Christians hold a biblical worldview.
- Worldwide, there are 4.2 billion who are unsaved.
- Since 1900, the number of Christians has quadrupled, but the percentage of people worldwide who are Christian has dropped from 34.5 percent to 33.1 percent.
Just how important is this issue to Armstrong, the board of CCU, the campus, faculty and students?
“If we should ever lose our love of Christ or stop trusting the Bible,” he told WND in an interview, “There’s no purpose to be here.
“The essence of this university is that we are a university of Jesus.”
The college for a number of years routinely has dispatched students and faculty on missions trips by the dozen. Its athletic teams are specifically assigned the work of representing the Christian faith in their travels.
So when Armstrong felt a leading to declare a “Year of Evangelism,” he consulted the school’s board and launched into the work.
Among the specifics this year will be that students learn to express their own personal faith in an “elevator talk” of some 90 seconds or so – the time of an average elevator ride.
They also will have the opportunity to prepare a longer version of their testimony and record it on DVD.
For other schools and churches, Armstrong is offering a training session to equip leaders with the tools to begin their own programs. There’s no fund-raising, no “brand” promotion by CCU, no other catches.
Already, several dozen churches have taken him up on the offer and are in the program.
“This is an incredibly important priority,” Armstrong said.
What about the end of the campaign? What will the college do?
“Our evangelistic effort is going to be an ongoing commitment,” he said. “CCU ought to be a foundation of evangelistic outreach.”
He said there might ultimately be a “Center for Evangelism” in the works, but all those details remain to be seen.
“Our main objective. Our foremost objective is to teach our students to fulfill the Great Commission,” he said.