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March 28, 2023

Christian Union Embarks On Second Massive Evangelism Initiative 

By Anne Kerhoulas

Last spring, Christian Union launched CU Rise, an evangelism campaign designed to share the gospel with students at ten of the nation’s most influential universities more boldly, strategically, and frequently than ever before. This week, Christian Union is at it again as CU Rise takes form for its second iteration.

“We want the name of Jesus to be the most talked-about name on our campuses this spring,” said Adrian Schoonmaker, vice president of Christian Union Universities.

Christian Union has leadership development ministries at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale—universities that are both profoundly influential and secular.

columbia students

Two years ago, Christian Union founder and CEO Matt Bennett had a vision for this initiative: to saturate college campuses with the gospel, allowing every student to hear about the saving work of Christ multiple times each year.

This vision is inspired by the Engel’s Scale, an evangelism framework that shows how some people are ready to receive Christ simply upon hearing the gospel and being invited to respond, while others will need more specific apologetic or personalized arguments in order to come to faith. Bennett, Christian Union ministry faculty, and executive team members began seeking the Lord about how to give every student at these influential universities the opportunity to respond to the gospel in faith. 

The result is a large-scale, multi-campus campaign designed to share the gospel with every student at each of the universities three to five times per academic year. That means that, in the course of this spring semester, the gospel will be shared 210,000 times—three times for each of the 70,000 students on the nine campuses where Christian Union ministers. The hope is that these efforts will not only bless and draw hundreds of students at influential universities to Christ, but also encourage and call up other universities, students, and American Christians to share the gospel with urgency and expectation.

Last year, CU Rise produced impressive stats. In the course of its eight weeks, the campaign garnered 1,665,420 gospel exposures via Instagram, 1,174,032 gospel exposures via Snapchat, and 316,036 gospel exposures through YouTube. In addition to these remarkable figures, each university ministry hosted outreach events, produced content unique to their campuses, featured testimonies from students, and invited hundreds of their peers to come to events hosted by the ministry. 

The 2023 CU Rise campaign began on March 12 with the same primary goals—to make Jesus the most talked about name on campus this spring. The social media campaign will be challenging and inviting university students to respond to the gospel in faith. Because social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube are so woven into the life of students, sharing the gospel and inviting students to apologetic events, to receive prayer, or to ask questions of faith is easy and accessible. 

Like last year, each Christian Union Universities ministry will organize local events to target their student demographics with events ranging from intellectual engagement lectures to book distribution to small group question and answer sessions.  The hope is that interested and even uninterested students would be given multiple avenues to engage the gospel and their questions of faith. 

“May the gospel go forth in power for the glory of God this spring!” said Bennett.