To see students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed, and world changers developed
GCF seeks to be missional at the U of Illinois in the sense of helping one another not just to be blessed but also to be a blessing to others at our university and in our various departments.
We seek to follow the Jesus revealed in the Scriptures, not some caricature of him that pervades much of Western culture.
Following Jesus at the U of I requires forming mature Christians in the graduate community and bearing witness to Jesus as Lord to non-followers of Jesus, seeking to change not just individual lives but also transforming cultures in the U of I academic community.
As graduate students, we need a much more robust picture of Jesus if we seriously want to be his followers today, not just in graduate school but as we leave and go wherever the Lord Jesus sends us.
The question we face today as graduate students is which Jesus do we follow and which Jesus do we call others to follow?
We join with other Graduate Christian Fellowships in InterVarsity’s Four Ministry Commitment in Context — Christian Spiritual Formation, Christian Community, Integration of Christian faith, learning and practice, and Christian Witness. And we include some comments about them.
The Gospel is a royal announcement. It is the good news that the Jesus revealed in the Scriptures has been raised from the dead and reigns now as the world’s true Lord and King over everyone and everything. God thus summons all the peoples of the world—including all those at every university—to give their allegiance to this Lord Jesus and to begin re-ordering their lives accordingly as members of his Church, as part of God’s One New Humanity in Christ for the sake of the world. This same Lord Jesus returns to Judge the world with justice and to renew all things “in heaven and on earth.”
- Christian Spiritual formation. We continuously are being formed and shaped as persons by the many cultures that have made us who we are to this point in our lives. Our graduate and professional school education and our academic disciplines continue to shape us, consciously as well as unconsciously. Christian spiritual formation requires learning how we are being spiritually formed in ways that shape our loves and desires toward and away from the kingdom of God, toward and away from the love of God and our neighbors. Christian spiritual formation thus has a telos or final goal, which is Christlikeness in all that we are and do as members of God’s new humanity. And so, it requires thoughtful intentionality in “putting on Christ” or the “new self” which is being re-created in the image of God’s Son as members of his One New Humanity.
- Christian Community. We seek to establish embodied Christian community among graduate and professional students, and among faculty members at the University. Our Christian fellowships are neither replacements for the local church nor para-church ministries. Rather they are para-academy Christian communities within the University that live out the new and alternative way of life in Christ together. We also seek to provide welcome space for both followers of the Lord Jesus and for those not yet his followers so that we might together better learn who Jesus is and what it means to follow him as Lord. And so, we seek to be faithfully present in the University as distinctly Christian communities that bear witness to the good news that Jesus is Lord and how to follow him in a life of growing faithfulness.
- Integration of Christian faith, learning and practice. Lifelong following Christ requires bringing all aspects of our lives under Christ’s lordship as members of his One New Humanity and not least our teaching and scholarship. We are interested in doing evangelism largely in part so that those who study, do research and teach at the University will begin to integrate their faith, learning and practice “in Christ” as his followers. We might say that this means taking off the old academic self and putting on the new academic self. We are also interested in doing Christian scholarship that participates in bringing flourishing to the University and academic disciplines to participate in God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. And so, integration of Christian faith, learning and practice is a crucial aspect of who we are as followers of Christ in every academic discipline and calling.
- Christian Witness. Christian witness involves being faithfully present in every corner of the University as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God is already at work in the lives of many of our colleagues and friends who are not yet followers of the Lord. We also believe that he desires to use us to help them learn who Jesus is and what it means to follow him as Lord in all aspects of life. Evangelism is thus an essential practice for God’s people at the University. And so, we seek to join the spiritual journeys of some of those in our departments and research groups with the goal of helping them become followers of the Lord Jesus for the first time with a view to being lifelong members of his Church, of his One New Humanity.