Reformed University Fellowship and accountability...

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Under the post Campus Outreach NOT joining the rainbow..., one reader ask about the difference between the two primary campus parachurch organizations that serve the sons and daughters of the PCA, Campus Outreach and Reformed University Fellowship. A reader responded with this comment: "I believe Campus Outreach operates under the authority of a local church's Session, while Reformed University Fellowship is under the authority of the Presbytery."

In this all-important matter, Campus Outreach has it right.

Having served on Ohio Valley Presbytery's RUF committee and watched RUF through the years (including personal contact and meeting with RUF's CEO as well as son Joseph being active in RUF's chapter at Vandy), it's my observation that, despite what's on paper, RUF is not normally under the authority of presbyteries in any organic way.

RUF has the money and tells presbyteries what to do, where, when, and with whom—even down to the planting of churches and the selection of those churches' pastors when they have an RUF campus nearby. They are the donkey that wags the tail (presbytery). It's just another example of the guy that has the money getting to call the tune.

I encouraged Joseph to be involved in RUF when he went to Vandy and am grateful for the ministry they provided during his years there. Now though... 

RUF's ministry there has been fatally compromised by their caving in to the Vandy administration's demands concerning homosexuality. It's very sad, but this is the way of all campus parachurch ministries. Dad was one of the founders of I-V here in the States and look how bad I-V is now. Absolutely terrible with just a few local workers even close to Biblical at today's gaps in the wall, while the organization itself has long been a feminist juggernaut and a safe place for heterodoxy. Veggie Tales was played following my preaching the last time I spoke to our local I-V chapter on the campus of IU.

Yes, there are still good local chapters and good workers with RUF, and I would recommend it be checked out by parishioners who are moving to another campus. But when I last recommended it to one of our high school grads, a perceptive and well-taught young man whose grandfather was a Presbyterian pastor, he found RUF so defective, theologically, that he chose Cru as the more Biblical option.

I should add that I've not had a chance to be involved with our local RUF chapter, which is only a couple years old. And having left the PCA, I don't know anything about their interface with Central Indiana Presbytery. Which is to say I'm not making these observations based upon involvement with this new presbytery and new RUF chapter.

The Presbyterian Church in America's Women in the Church, Reformed University Fellowship, Covenant College, Covenant Seminary, Mission to the World, Mission to North America, and so on, are all merely denominational agencies that have their own institutional ethos, source of funding, employees, CEO, trademark, marketing department, and clientele. It's the nature of the beast that the loyalty of their alumni and employees keep them from any substantial accountability to the Church or churches.

Campus ministries should always be under the authority of a local church and her elders. Always. And while this makes it hard to get funding, after a lifetime of involvement with campus parachurch organizations in university towns like Boulder, Madison, and Bloomington, there is no other good way to provide spiritual support for the men and women God calls to this good work.

Campus ministry is too important to be run by fat cats.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!