How to care for students
It’s the start of the new academic year and many Christian students have got that back-to-school feeling. Matthew Fox-Lilley tells us how you can best look after the students in your church.
I was asked recently by a church leader, “How can my church best support the Christian Union?” It was with great pleasure that I was able to answer him, “Love your students well”.
UCCF’s commitment to the local church is the very foundation of our existence. Having no students of our own, the whole missionary outfit is manned and led by students belonging to local churches. Without the local church, there are no Christian Unions. The aim of the Christian Unions may well be to give every student in Britain the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel, but how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
Christian Unions are the missionary arm of the local church on campus, and so the best way for churches to support CUs is to invest in their students – to strengthen the arm that holds out the word of life on our campuses. The best way for you to support the CUs is to love your students generously: open up your home; lift them up regularly in prayer; get alongside your younger brothers and sisters and disciple them. I am constantly urging the students who I work with to ask more mature men and women of their church family to meet up with them for Bible study and prayer. I pray for a time when the students don’t have to take the initiative, but are invested in as a matter of course, one-to-one. Christian Unions can only be as strong and mature as their represented churches make them.
I was praying recently with a CU at an early morning prayer meeting. There were about twenty of us praying, and as we drew to a close one of them pointed out to me that between us we represented eleven churches from just one town. “Where else does this happen?” he asked me. I couldn’t give him an answer.
Local churches are wonderful at working with one another at a student level – they faithfully send their students to work together under the one banner of Christ. However, they are generally less good at modelling this unity outside of the CU context. Modelling interdenominational gospel unity is another way that churches can support their students. What might that look like for your church?
Please pray for students and CUs over the coming weeks as Freshers’ Weeks commence. This is such an opportunity for evangelism! Pray for Christians already at university that they would stand strong and lead their Christian Unions well. Pray also for Christians heading up to university: This can be a time of make or break for them spiritually, so pray that they will live and speak for Jesus rather than following the way of the world.
Learn more about the work of UCCF: The Christian Unions at their recently refurbished website – www.uccf.org.uk