Fifty more campuses
Gaylor has been national director of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries
for 25 years. The ministry, now 50 years old, has official student
groups on 235 secular college campuses around the nation. Gaylor
recently spoke with News Editor John W. Kennedy.
Tell me about the plans Chi Alpha has for establishing new student
We’re trying to be
more strategic in starting new ministries. We’ve been challenging
every Assemblies of God district to identify the next campus where
they would start a Chi Alpha group if they had a qualified campus
missionary and the funding. Every district is identifying one
place so that they can purposely pray. We’re working in
concert with the districts through our Reach the University training,
nationally recognized internship programs and recruiting in order
to get workers to those places.
PE: What kind of
timetable do you have?
We have a list of 50 campuses, corresponding with the districts,
to put new chapters. We update it annually. Chi Alpha has already
been pioneered in colleges like Stanford, University of New Hampshire,
University of South Carolina, University of South Alabama, University
of Idaho and University of North Carolina-Charlotte. This year
new targets include Tulane, Duke and Columbia.
PE: Why are new
A university campus is like a city within a city. However, one
third of the U.S. campuses have no Christian outreach. Those that
do may only involve a few hundred students out of 15,000 or 30,000.
There’s a great need to have a viable Christian influence
and perspective on secular campuses.
PE: How can Chi
Alpha be effective in our changing culture?
Chi Alpha ministers to a segment of our population that is for
the most part outside the reach of the typical church. Today you
will not find the majority of college students in church on any
given Sunday. These students are preparing for future leadership
roles. We’re making the important connection at a pivotal
moment in their development.
How is the mission of Chi Alpha more challenging on today’s
campuses compared to when you started?
Actually, it’s easier. There’s much more openness
and interest in spirituality. Collegians today, probably unlike
any time before, want to see and experience authentic faith. Campus
ministries, because they focus on that peer group, can bring the
gospel into their context.
What are some of the innovative ways the organization is reaching
Food, fun, adrenalin and prizes always attract students. One campus
group advertised a Q-and-A time with Curt Harlow, Chi Alpha evangelist.
They promoted with crazy questions like, How can I get a date
for this weekend? and How can I cure acne? Ultimately, questions
led to explaining the gospel. At another school they used the
book The Gospel According to the Simpsons in discussion
groups, relating the popular TV show to faith and morality. On
one campus, a guy dressed up in a devil’s suit and distributed
copies of Satan: My Story.
The front had been covered. It was the C.S. Lewis book The
Screwtape Letters. Chi Alpha students used the book as a springboard in discussion groups
to understand evil and sin. On another campus they sponsored a
skit spoofing the TV show American Idol.
PE: What other characteristics
do you see in today’s young people?
Evangelist and apologist Ravi Zacharias says today’s youth
listen with their eyes and think with their feelings. They have
to see and experience the faith. The great commandment, “Love
God and love your neighbor,” carries great weight with today’s
students. It’s more about relationships and community. Students
may go for weeks or months attending meetings before committing
their lives to Christ. They want to belong before they believe.
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