RUF is “Reformed University Fellowship”, the campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America. We currently have campus ministers on over 160 campuses and are growing by five to ten each year. Our purpose is to reach students from all sorts of backgrounds for Christ and equip them to serve God and others. Here is who we are, what we stand for, and how we work…
We stand in the tradition of historic Christianity, following such saints as St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, the Puritans, and others “contend[ing] earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” The Bible, the infallible, inerrant Word of God is our standard of doctrine and practice, but we do not assume that it means whatever we wish it to mean. The church provides a framework for belief, and we particularly adopt the Westminster Confession and Catechisms as our understanding of what the scripture teaches. In an age in which most anything can be passed off as biblical truth, we attempt to be reformed in steering a course between attachment to tradition and individualistic interpretation. You can trust Reformed University Fellowship to uphold sound doctrine in all we do.
This is our focus. The Gospel must be preached everywhere, but our task is to go to students and faculty on college and university campuses. There is a great need for the Gospel on these campuses, and also a great opportunity. Students are more open to discussion and new ideas than most people, and are in a situation where it is relatively easy to enter into discussion. Many of today’s students will become tomorrow’s leaders, so our impact can be multiplied throughout the culture.
We are not mainly in the business of developing programs, or individual counseling, although we do some of those, but of building a fellowship of students who grow together as a group in witnessing to the Lord and following His Word. Thus group Bible studies and teaching play a major role in our method. But first let us consider our specific goals in working with students.
Simply put, our goal is reaching students for Christ and equipping students to serve. We do not try to trim out the uncomfortable parts of the Gospel to make Christ more appealing. But the Gospel is not properly proclaimed without the presence of the love of Christ. Jesus attracted huge crowds while speaking hard things, because He loved them. So we present without apology the whole counsel of God, to the whole campus. This means both that every person ought to hear, and also that the whole person: mind, heart, and will, must be moved by the Word. We aren’t preaching merely to minds, but we must touch the heart and move the will to really change the course of one’s life.
Specifically, we can break our goals down into four points:
To grow in the knowledge of God. Jesus said “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The center of the Christian life must always be growth in our relationship with God. Thus we lead students into daily prayer and study of scripture, and healthy habits of worship.
To reach unbelievers with the Gospel of Christ. This is the special opportunity we have on the secular campus. We desire that all students have the opportunity to hear the Gospel, and that many will respond.
To teach students to serve each other. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” Not only is love the greatest of the gifts of the Spirit, but it is by the love of Christians that unbelievers are convinced of the truth of the Gospel. Selfishness comes more naturally, however, and it must be a high priority to teach students to “look first to the interests of others.”
To develop a Biblical worldview. The purpose of going to college is to develop one’s mind. Unfortunately, at secular institutions that development usually takes an unbiblical turn. We teach students how to see the world and interpret events from a biblical perspective, enabling them to interact productively in their classes. Students should be able to engage unbelievers intellectually and competently defend their own views.
We live in a method-centered society, and sadly, much of the church has absorbed this perspective. We must hang onto the conviction that it is God, acting through His Word and Spirit, who saves, not the latest and best evangelistic or discipleship method. However, the loftiest goals can lead to arbitrary behavior if there is not a consistent plan to implement them. We have a clear and concrete, yet flexible approach to ministry which enables us to pursue our goals.
Place a Campus Minister. The center of RUF’s ministry is the campus minister – a man called, trained, and ordained to preach the Gospel and minister to college students. RUF campus ministers are not only theologically sound and pastorally skilled, they are also attuned to the needs of college students in the 21st century.
Build a Core Group. The campus minister begins by working closely with interested students to establish them as growing disciples. In both group and individual contexts, on campus and in retreats, we bring the scripture before them, instructing, encouraging, and training in godliness. Evangelism is a part of this process, as unbelievers begin drifting into the group and as we share the Gospel with the friends of those involved.
Unite for teaching and outreach. Everyone pulls together to greet freshmen as they arrive on the campus, and for other large-scale evangelistic events. Every week we gather for singing, fellowship, and teaching by a qualified speaker, usually the campus minister. The focus is on substantial teaching from the scripture applied directly to the campus setting.
Develop small groups for Bible study and outreach. As the ministry grows, we organize the students into small group Bible studies. Here they can interact directly with the scripture while hearing the thoughts of others. In addition, this is an ideal environment in which to introduce unbelievers to the scripture. As students grow in their understanding of scripture and leadership abilities they will begin to lead these groups.
Establish strong student leaders. Leadership ability is one of the gifts God gives the church, and we take advantage of that by noticing those students who seem to be so gifted and train them to realize their potential. Many of these people will one day become pivotal figures in their churches.
There are considerable benefits to being linked to a particular denomination. Chief among these is the stability that comes from a well-established body: stability in practice and in doctrine. One is not left wondering what slant the next person will take, or if the latest initiative is not just the most recent fad. The chief difficulty lies in avoiding the narrowness that can come with such a close tie.
We are very fortunate to be a part of the Presbyterian Church in America, a rapidly growing conservative denomination, characterized by unusual openness to cooperation with other groups while firmly maintaining its doctrinal integrity. Reformed University Fellowship is the campus ministry arm of the Presbyterian Church in America and is accountable to it. Although our accountability is to a Presbyterian body, our scope is far from being limited to that one group. Since our focus is on reaching students for Christ, we minister to students from every sort of background. Our goal is not to fill Presbyterian churches, but to see students saved and growing in the Lord, in whatever church God places them.
Reformed University Fellowship is supported in prayer and financial contributions by a wide range of people who wish to see a strong, Biblical ministry on college and university campuses. Humanly speaking, we could not exist without a multitude of people standing with us as partners in reaching students for Christ. To learn about how to support this ministry, go to “Support RUF”.
Thanks for sharing this ministry with us!