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Engaging the university with Vinoth Ramachandra (1)

Vinoth Ramachandra (credit: ifesworld)Let’s continue considering the nature of university ministry with the guidance of Vinoth Ramachandra, who is Secretary for Dialogue and Social Engagement in IFES.

To unpack my last post, here I’m drawing on Engaging the University, which is the first lecture of Ramachandra’s 2012 lecture series, ‘Mission as Prophetic Engagement’. Bear in mind that this is part of me looking at East Africa through Australian eyes.

• Listen to part 1/4 of the lecture

In an integrative vision of the Kingdom, we are at home with complexity.

If we take to heart the supreme lordship of Christ, says Ramachandra,

Believing this gospel commits every Christian to a comprehensive view of the world and compels him or her to a missionary engagement with all of reality, actively seeking out novel and alien beliefs, assessing them in light of the gospel narrative, and trying to find a place for them in a Christian vision of the world.

While this theological backdrop looms large for Ramachandra, the issues he presents for student ministry are intimately connected with the world of the university, and much of this lecture is devoted to exploring that context. I hope you’ll listen to the whole lecture, but right now I just want to zoom in here and there to consider some ramifications.

What does it mean to be ‘actively seeking out novel and alien beliefs?’ If we share an integrative Christian vision, university ministry begins to look like a complicated business because the complexity of the world it inhabits is brought to the fore. We want to see Christian students flourishing amidst that complexity, and that means exposing students to complexity and schooling students in complexity — something I’ll return to in tomorrow’s post.

Ramachandra then takes up the well-known question posed by Charles Malik: ‘What does Jesus Christ think of the university?’ Ramachandra explains that to live with this question means something more than just observing and assessing the culture of the university:

We are fully part of the life of the university, and committed to the flourishing of the university — we don’t just drop in from outside to conduct so-called missions to the university. We are fully relational in all that we say and do.


• Listen to part 1/4 of the lecture
• Listen to part 2/4 of the lecture

More to come. Keep the comments coming too!

Photograph originals: ifesworld and jpkso

Categories: University ministry Written by Arthur

Tagged as:

Arthur Davis

Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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