As Fusion turns 20, Rich takes stock of all that God has done.
Fusion started with an explosion in Autumn 1997! Different leaders, church traditions, church networks and Christian organisations came together to serve a much larger God-agenda for the student world. Fusion didn't claim to be the answer and still doesn't, however, it was very clear God had spoken to a number of different people around the UK who were now finding each other around this common mission. It was a fusion of passion and prayer, reimagining what student mission could look, feel and smell like in the 21st century.
Some incredible things began to happen as students planted missional small groups that we called Fusion cells. In St Andrews as cells multiplied from two to eleven it led to a church being planted and meeting in a pub. In Cambridge there were wonderful stories of salvation as cells continued to multiply to forty over a few years. In Oxford I remember a catalytic prayer meeting where a power cut felt like a God ordained interruption as it preceded a number of powerful prophetic words and declarations.
Within five years nearly five hundred Fusion cells had been planted as students created communities around Jesus with a focus on evangelism. Mission was largely about lifestyle and it was the lives of Christians in these cells that were standing out, creating curiosity and leading many into relationship with Jesus.
'There is a prophetic edge to Fusion that gives such sharpness to what they bring.'
Grace Cooper, Jesmond Methodist Church, Newcastle
A Mandate to reach the Student World
Alongside the growth in cells was a growing number of local churches who believed they had a mandate to reach the student world. Many of the cells were connected to, resourced by and trained by these churches. It became evident that the future of student mission would depend on local churches playing a much larger role. Churches began to create new roles and Student Workers were appointed in paid and voluntary roles all over the UK.
Fusion introduced Student Worker Training for church-based student workers and in 2002 ran a week-long residential for 29 student workers from across the 47 Fusion-connected churches. Now, two decades on the church connections have swollen to over two thousand and in recent years over one thousand student workers a year have attended Fusion training.
Student Linkup before the internet!
Of course the internet did exist in 2001, but a Fusion newsletter article from that year shows that before the days of apps and smartphones we used to do things very differently. Here's an extract:
'In amongst the bits of paper that fell out of this edition of FC news was a VERY important form. The ‘Get Connected’ form is for you to photocopy and give to anyone who is going to university this Autumn. They can return the form to us and we will let them know about any Fusion Connection churches near the university of college that they are going to. We will also link them up with any other freshers going to the same place.'
‘Fusion went the extra mile to make sure I found a church. Three years down the line, I’m fully in community.’
Rosie, Student in London
STILL NOT SATISFIED
We are really grateful for all God has done through us but we are not satisfied. Two years before Fusion started God was stirring a dream in me…
In October 1995 I was wrestling with big questions about my generation and what it would take to disciple a whole generation. On that day I recognised that these weren't just my questions, these were seeds that God had planted in me and was encouraging to grow. Calling was being incubated and I was about to catch a glimpse of the future.
That day I began to dream about what it could mean, what it would look like, what it would feel like. Generation after generation of students igniting fire after fire in the lives of fellow students. Multitudes getting a vision for God's preferred future and kneeling in submission to his Kingdom agenda. Seeds of calling planted that, over time, would grow into huge trees, bearing fruit and providing shelter and home, feeding both individual names and whole nations. A stampede of God's people being unleashed into business, politics, church planting, education, arts, media, medicine and more. Marked by encounter they leave their mark in society for generations to come.
Looking ahead to the next two decades there is much more that must be achieved. As part of God’s church we have vision for generations and nations. In the UK each new student generation must be given an opportunity to respond to the gospel and invited to #TryChurch. Across the nations, new church-based student movements must start.
25 million students across Europe need the church to show and share Jesus with them
Fusion is committed to playing its part, raising up more workers and serving God's mission to students through the local church and in partnership with other ministries.
‘I see in the lives of the Fusion team a genuine love for God, passion for his kingdom and an abundance of life and joy.’ –
Rev Richard Pennystan, St Chad's Romily
20 years in a nutshell
-- 1997 --
Fusion is launched in London – the inquisitive, the desperate and the adventurous show up. Over 400 attend.
-- 1998 --
Fusion Cells start being planted and leaders are getting trained
-- 1999 --
The first national gathering sees 40 Fusion Cell leaders attend.
-- 2001 --
Over 500 students attend the national Fusion gathering in Derby
-- 2002 --
Fusion go on tour with 24-7 Prayer, Tearfund and 100 hours visiting 8 cities
-- 2004 --
Fusion Cells have multiplied to 500 in 88 universities
-- 2005 --
1,200 students pack out the Student Evolution venue at Spring Harvest
-- 2006 --
Fusion's focus moves to championing, training & equipping the local church for student mission.
-- 2007 --
The Fusion team expands and appoints Student Work Developer, Student Mission Developer and Church Relations Manager. Fusion’s big bash student conference is in Oxford.
-- 2009 --
Fusion embarks on a 20 city loveyouruni tour. 200 churches are now connected.
-- 2010 --
New resources are launched including the School Leaver Pack to prepare new students for university.
-- 2011 --
Fusion team grows appointing three new team. We're now working with 700 churches.
-- 2012 --
Grow to 850 churches.
-- 2013 --
The start of a two year loveyouruni road trip in a VW Campervan visiting every university city in the UK.
-- 2014 --
Student Linkup App is launched and churches from around the world begin to join the movement.
-- 2015 --
Fusion team invite partners to fund 100% of their salaries
-- 2016 --
Mission Styles is launched. Student Linkup invites students to #TryChurch at 18 uni Freshers' Fairs.
-- 2017 --
The 2000th church creates a church profile! The Discipleship Deck is launched. Fusion team swells to 21. Student Linkup invites all students to #TryChurch at 25 uni Freshers’ Fairs.
-- 2018 --
‘Fusion has revolutionised our student ministry.’
Dan, Tyneside Vineyard
Called to join this move of God amongst students?
We're hunting for passionate and called individuals to join our team. Could this be you?