IFES is committed to Scripture as God’s Word to us. We want students to read and study the Bible. Why? Please pause for a moment and think about why you read the Bible. What are your expectations as you do so?
Reading the Bible is not an end in itself. It is not about fulfilling a Christian duty for the sake of having done so. It is also not primarily about collecting information and facts (and then getting bored with Bible passages we think we already know).
As we seek to strengthen Scripture engagement in IFES our ultimate aim is not to see more students reading and studying the Bible. Yes, we want to see that happen, but for the sake of something greater. In God’s written word, students meet Jesus Christ, the Living Word – and get to know and trust him. Through God’s word, students grow in their love for God and for others, they receive grace and hope, they learn to see our world and themselves differently, they are challenged to place all of life under the Lordship of Christ. Scripture engagement is not an end in itself. Its ultimate aim is a transformative encounter with the living God. It is seeing God through his word shape us (individually and collectively) into the image of Christ.
The place of Scripture engagement in the Living Stones vision of IFES reflects this well: it is one of three core commitments which are to “surround and support” every aspect of IFES life. (See the Living Stones document: http://www.ifesworld.org/about/vision.) Scripture engagement is not one strategic priority set next to others; it is not an area of ministry which can be isolated from other things we are doing. It is integral to everything we do. This involves, for example, going through the six strategic priorities of the Living Stones vision asking questions like: How does Scripture shape our understanding, practice, and the content of evangelism? Which role does it play in strengthening leadership and formacion? How can we help students engage the university and their own field of studies through a biblical lens? And so on.
Why engage Scripture? How does Scripture engagement fit into the bigger picture of IFES student ministry? I encourage you to reflect on these questions with regard to your own life and ministry. One (of many) Bible passages worth meditating as you think about this is 2. Timothy 3:14-17.