Chi Alpha Campus Ministries started in 1951. Although there were exceptions, it was primarily an inward-looking ministry. In the 1960’s, national Chi Alpha director Rick Howard began to speak prophetically about the direction of the ministry. He said that college ministry needed to look outward and consider the campus as a mission field. Dave Gable, the next national director from 1971-1979, gave legs to the vision that Howard had set forth.
In 1977, Gable called together six representative campus leaders to define what campus outreach could become, and come up with a call to action. They met in a scorpion-infested camp outside of San Antonio, Texas, later being known as the “San Antonio Seven.” The names of the seven were: Dave Gable, Herschel Rosser, Dave Argue, Jim Hall, Dennis Gaylor, Brady Bobbink, and Harvey Herman. A varied group, they were made up of ex-hippies and people who had grown up in church, Bible college, and secular college backgrounds from every region of the country.
During their time, they asked one question: What were the central qualities that defined the first century church? The result of their search was a four-fold philosophy from the book of Acts that the church was defined by a ministry of worship, fellowship, discipleship, and witness. Later, prayer was added to the ministry philosophy. This understanding became the foundation for a renewed ministry outreach that has grown nationwide and around the world since 1977.
In 1977, Chi Alpha existed on about 40 campuses across the United States. As the new philosophy has been taught, modeled, and implemented, students (and staff) have caught the vision and given their lives to pioneering and developing ministry to students. In 2010, there were close to 280 Chi Alpha chapters across the country (with 23,000 students involved), and Chi Alpha has spread to most of the continents.
Since 1977, thousands of students have started following the teachings of Jesus for the first time while being equipped and mobilized for campus outreach. Students have reached out to international students with friendship and hospitality. Students have given up their spring and summer breaks to serve on U.S. based and overseas mission trips, empowered by the Spirit.
Student chapters are the foundation of Chi Alpha’s ministry to college and university campuses. These ministries are student led; yet, behind each student leader is the guiding hand of a highly committed and skilled Chi Alpha missionary. They equip and enable students to be followers of Jesus, helping them to grow to maturity as leaders in the kingdom of God while in school and as they transition to the marketplace. They reach students, train leaders, and impact nations.
Knowing that most students will end up in the global marketplace, Chi Alpha staff teach students to develop a Biblical view of work as a divine calling and an opportunity for genuine ministry. They equip students with the tools they’ll need to serve in a local church and to reflect the character and ministry of Christ while on the job. Students graduate and are sent into the marketplace prepared to live out and pass on the vision of the Book of Acts.
We believe every college student should have the opportunity to study at the feet of the world’s greatest teacher. Will you join us in making that dream a reality? We hope all of our students will give a year or two after graduation to serving their local chapter. We also pray they will consider joining our missionary staff team and give their lives to serve globally with Chi Alpha.
Love is a verb,