SCM

Students who changed the world

J Edwin OrrFollowing up on my Missionaries to Marxists: the Rise and Fall of SCM, here's an article by one of the great historians of revival movements, Dr J Edwin Orr.

Read it and ask yourself, “Why can't this happen again?”

Can you imagine...

one third of a university's student body coming to Christ in a single year?

50 percent of those new believers going into full-time Christian work following graduation?

more than 20,000 students eventually serving Christ overseas due to the influence of a few of these students? Imagine it, because it all happened!

It began in the early 1800s at schools like Amherst, Dartmouth, Princeton, Williams, and Yale where up to half the students turned to Christ. By 1835, 1,500 students had committed their lives to Christ in 36 colleges. Impressive statistics...especially when you realize that in those days student bodies numbered only 100 to 250. Similar results continued to be seen from one generation of students to the next. In 1853, 11 New England colleges with a total enrollment of 2,163 reported that there were 745 active Christians on campus. Of this number, 343 planned to go into the ministry.

Then in the 1880s, an unprecedented missionary enterprise known as the Student Volunteer Movement came into being. “The Evangelization of the World in This Generation” became its rallying cry. This spirit was evidenced in the movement's results - more than 20,000 serving overseas mission fields in half a century.

To read on, download: Why Campus Revivals Spark Missionary Advance by J Edwin Orr

Students who changed the world

J Edwin OrrFollowing up on my Missionaries to Marxists: the Rise and Fall of SCM, here's an article by one of the great historians of revival movements, Dr J Edwin Orr.

Read it and ask yourself, “Why can't this happen again?”

Can you imagine...

one third of a university's student body coming to Christ in a single year?

50 percent of those new believers going into full-time Christian work following graduation?

more than 20,000 students eventually serving Christ overseas due to the influence of a few of these students? Imagine it, because it all happened!

It began in the early 1800s at schools like Amherst, Dartmouth, Princeton, Williams, and Yale where up to half the students turned to Christ. By 1835, 1,500 students had committed their lives to Christ in 36 colleges. Impressive statistics...especially when you realize that in those days student bodies numbered only 100 to 250. Similar results continued to be seen from one generation of students to the next. In 1853, 11 New England colleges with a total enrollment of 2,163 reported that there were 745 active Christians on campus. Of this number, 343 planned to go into the ministry.

Then in the 1880s, an unprecedented missionary enterprise known as the Student Volunteer Movement came into being. “The Evangelization of the World in This Generation” became its rallying cry. This spirit was evidenced in the movement's results - more than 20,000 serving overseas mission fields in half a century.

To read on, download: Why Campus Revivals Spark Missionary Advance by J Edwin Orr

The death of a movement: 7 lessons

Seven lessons from the story of the rise and fall of the Student Christian Movement (SCM):

1. Drift to secularism
A recurring pattern in the lifecycle of movements is the drift to secularism. Finke and Stark write, “By 'secularized' we mean to move from otherworldliness, to present a more distant and indistinct conception of the supernatural, to relax the moral restrictions on members and to surrender claims to an exclusive and superior truth.” SCM surrendered to this tendency and paid the price.

2. Failure of Gospel nerve
SCM's commitment to theological liberalism meant that it tended to define itself by what it did not believe. Biblical authority was undermined. Its message became vague and poorly distinguished from other agendas.

3. Powerless to mobilize
In order to have some chance of being effective in recruitment, a movement needs a clear understanding of what the truth is, who has it and who needs it. A lack of clear beliefs undermined recruitment and made internal cohesion and united action unlikely.

4. Treated with indifference
The lesson of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is that Liberal Protestantism has failed abysmally to attract support from those in the modern world looking for religious answers to life's questions. Ironically, theological liberalism set out to make the faith intellligible to the modern, rational, secular world only to find itself treated with indifference by that world.

5. Hijacked agenda
The increasingly authoritarian political ideologies of the New Left and neo-Marxism filled the spiritual void that SCM for itself. Lacking the courage to define itself, SCM allowed itself to be defined by movements alien to the Gospel.

6. External life support
Eventually SCM found itself, as every declining movement does, living on external life support—asset rich but cash poor. Surviving due to investments made by a former generation.

7. God is faithful
The story of the decline of SCM is paralleled by the story of the rise of Inter-Varsity. God is faithful and his purposes will not be thwarted even when movements prove unfaithful. He is always at work, often on the fringes raising up new movements for the renewal and expansion of the church.


Story of a Storm: The Ecumenical Student Movement in the Turmoil of Revolution, 1968 to 1973 (Publications of the Finnish Society of Church History, No 174); (Risto Lehtonen)

The death of a movement: 7 lessons

Seven lessons from the story of the rise and fall of the Student Christian Movement (SCM):

1. Drift to secularism
A recurring pattern in the lifecycle of movements is the drift to secularism. Finke and Stark write, “By 'secularized' we mean to move from otherworldliness, to present a more distant and indistinct conception of the supernatural, to relax the moral restrictions on members and to surrender claims to an exclusive and superior truth.” SCM surrendered to this tendency and paid the price.

2. Failure of Gospel nerve
SCM's commitment to theological liberalism meant that it tended to define itself by what it did not believe. Biblical authority was undermined. Its message became vague and poorly distinguished from other agendas.

3. Powerless to mobilize
In order to have some chance of being effective in recruitment, a movement needs a clear understanding of what the truth is, who has it and who needs it. A lack of clear beliefs undermined recruitment and made internal cohesion and united action unlikely.

4. Treated with indifference
The lesson of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is that Liberal Protestantism has failed abysmally to attract support from those in the modern world looking for religious answers to life's questions. Ironically, theological liberalism set out to make the faith intellligible to the modern, rational, secular world only to find itself treated with indifference by that world.

5. Hijacked agenda
The increasingly authoritarian political ideologies of the New Left and neo-Marxism filled the spiritual void that SCM for itself. Lacking the courage to define itself, SCM allowed itself to be defined by movements alien to the Gospel.

6. External life support
Eventually SCM found itself, as every declining movement does, living on external life support—asset rich but cash poor. Surviving due to investments made by a former generation.

7. God is faithful
The story of the decline of SCM is paralleled by the story of the rise of Inter-Varsity. God is faithful and his purposes will not be thwarted even when movements prove unfaithful. He is always at work, often on the fringes raising up new movements for the renewal and expansion of the church.


Story of a Storm: The Ecumenical Student Movement in the Turmoil of Revolution, 1968 to 1973 (Publications of the Finnish Society of Church History, No 174); (Risto Lehtonen)

Missionaries to Marxists

Scm Missionaries To Marxists Today I'm releasing the latest in a series of case studies in the lifecycle of a movement: SCM - Missionaries to Marxists

We'll be looking at the final stage of the lifecycle: death. The case study I've chosen is especially instructive for those on left wing of the Emerging Church, described by Ed Stetzer as revisionists. The lesson: Culturally relevance without biblical orthodoxy results in cultural captivity and the death of a movement.

The Student Christian Movement (SCM) was formed in Britain in 1889 with around the watchword: "The Evangelisation of the World in this Generation".

Through SCM a new generation heeded the call to world missions. But gradually SCM distanced itself from its evangelical heritage and accommodated its message to the values of the surrounding culture.

Today, SCM barely survives on a few British campuses. The official SCM website affirms that SCM "chooses to hold no doctrinal basis" and boasts that membership "is open to people of any faith and none". The only "watchword" found on the website was "SCM, Questioning the Christian Faith".

In contrast, the evangelical student movement (now UCCF) that formed as a breakaway from SCM in 1928, now boasts 20,000 student members and 49 full-time staff in the UK. InterVarsity USA has 33,000 members and 880 workers in the US. Its mission and commitment to evangelical Christianity is clear and it can justifiably lay claim to be the modern day successors of those who pioneered the SCM with the watchword: "The Evangelisation of the World in this Generation".

SCM - Missionaries to Marxists

Missionaries to Marxists

Scm Missionaries To Marxists Today I'm releasing the latest in a series of case studies in the lifecycle of a movement: SCM - Missionaries to Marxists

We'll be looking at the final stage of the lifecycle: death. The case study I've chosen is especially instructive for those on left wing of the Emerging Church, described by Ed Stetzer as revisionists. The lesson: Culturally relevance without biblical orthodoxy results in cultural captivity and the death of a movement.

The Student Christian Movement (SCM) was formed in Britain in 1889 with around the watchword: "The Evangelisation of the World in this Generation".

Through SCM a new generation heeded the call to world missions. But gradually SCM distanced itself from its evangelical heritage and accommodated its message to the values of the surrounding culture.

Today, SCM barely survives on a few British campuses. The official SCM website affirms that SCM "chooses to hold no doctrinal basis" and boasts that membership "is open to people of any faith and none". The only "watchword" found on the website was "SCM, Questioning the Christian Faith".

In contrast, the evangelical student movement (now UCCF) that formed as a breakaway from SCM in 1928, now boasts 20,000 student members and 49 full-time staff in the UK. InterVarsity USA has 33,000 members and 880 workers in the US. Its mission and commitment to evangelical Christianity is clear and it can justifiably lay claim to be the modern day successors of those who pioneered the SCM with the watchword: "The Evangelisation of the World in this Generation".

SCM - Missionaries to Marxists