They may have left school, but they still need your help to transition to university. Mollie Chappell, a student mission developer at Fusion is keen that you don’t drop the ball at this vital time.
From the moment a young person goes to university, they will have many questions flying through their mind: will they make friends? Will they find their way around the city? Will they get immersed in the university culture and disengage with God completely? Do they even want to find a church at university?
University has so many distractions and challenges in its culture that can force students to lose focus on Jesus. As youth workers, we have a role to play in helping to prepare young people in how to navigate university years with Jesus and help find a church that can champion them in their university adventure.
Jesus’ disciples loved adventure, even when they weren’t always prepared or necessarily focused on Jesus from the beginning. The feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14 is a perfect example. A large crowd needed to be fed and the disciples weren’t prepared to feed this amount of people with only five loaves and two fish.
There was no Deliveroo or Uber Eats on speed dial and it would have been half a year’s wages according to the passage to accomplish this challenge by themselves. It was only when they turned their focus to Jesus rather than the issue at hand that the miracle happened; they were then prepared to feed 5,000 people.
God is on the move across universities and we have an important part to play in preparing young people for university – how can they start well, shape the culture of university, make the most of every opportunity given and leave a legacy.
If you went to university, think back to when you were about to head off – how did you feel? Did anyone prepare you for what you were about to experience?
“God is on the move across universities”
Emily is a student who described to Fusion how she prepared for going to university. She shared that the most valuable things she did to prepare was to attend a pizza night her youth leader ran for young people who were going to university.
It was a place where she could ask questions and process what was about to happen. Her youth leader led the group through Fusion’s Student Linkup box which helped her process issues she hadn’t even thought about yet.
Fusion wants every young person to have the opportunity to find home in a church at university. The Student Linkup box supports youth workers to help prepare young people in the transition to university and help them find a church.
Its aim is to support young people, lay the very best foundation for their time at university and think about who they want to be, how they want to live, what they want to achieve and how to find a church. It can make a great gift from a family member or as a commissioning gift from the church.
It can feel difficult as you help prepare and watch young people leave for university year after year, especially if you have witnessed them grow from birth to adulthood, discipling and celebrating each milestone.
It often feels like you’re more nervous for them than they are, asking yourself questions such as will they settle quickly? Are they safe? Will they stay in contact? Will they find a church to settle in?
“University is a living picture of the great commission”
When I came to university, I used Student Linkup to find a church. Within two days of signing up, I had coffee meetings booked in with three different student workers who wanted to welcome me to the city and help me settle (much to my mum’s relief!).
Student Linkup gave me an opportunity to connect with churches before I even arrived in the city and gave the churches the opportunity to pray for me in the lead up to moving. As youth workers, we can help begin those conversations with young people about finding a church before they even arrive at university.
The joy about this transition is that university is a living picture of the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Maybe you have never thought about preparing young people for university before. Perhaps you have prepared hundreds of young people for university.
No matter where you are in preparation for university, know that young people have questions to ask and need a space to process their thoughts with someone they trust. You can help to create that space with them in your youth work role.
Being prepared for university made a massive difference to Emily’s whole experience and helped her to find a church. We can make that difference in young people feeling prepared and confident to embark on the adventure of university.
Ministries in and around university
There are a number of student ministries on campus and Fusion groups are not in every place.
The largest, which encourages Christian students to join the CU as first priority, is UCCF. It has a number of resources to help you link with the CU. You can find the four ‘Start here’ sessions here.
You also might find other ministries working in and around the university, such as Navigators or Agape.