One of the key influences on a student coming to faith in Jesus today is the impact of a key Christian friend who shared their faith with them.*
The students who had at least one Christian friend, found that friend to be a vital part of their journey to faith. Even though this might seem obvious, it's good hear about! You and I are someone else's "key Christian friend" who makes all the difference to their faith journey, because we decided to share our faith, not keep it private. That is really encouraging news.
Unsurprisingly, most of the factors of how students are coming to faith today are inseparable from key relationships. They involve conversation and invitation, support through hard times and real people in real life. But on top of all the ways Jesus-followers are impacting students, story after story that I listened to could name one particular housemate, course mate, student worker or friend they randomly met at dinner or in a club, who became their key point of contact for finding out about Jesus.
They talked about how open and honest the Christian friend was about sharing their faith, explaining why they might be doing something differently, or have a different perspective on something. They were kind, patient, full of joy, and available to ask questions. It was mainly these friends who were the inviters to Sunday church, small group, Alpha, or the one to give them their first bible.
Students, do not underestimate the power of your life and your every day actions of just being a good friend. You are having a beautiful and extraordinary impact on people finding out the realness of Jesus and his love for them.
Think now for a moment... who are you that key Christian friend to? Whose story of coming to faith could you crop up in?
How do we inspire and encourage our church community to each be a key Christian go-to for someone else not yet knowing Jesus? And are we keeping our eyes open and our prayer focused outward to notice those we should be a good friend to?
As Freshers arrive and make lots of friendships fast, let's be encouraging each other to get involved in social settings that aren't just groups of Christians, and let's be learning to discern where to give our time and energy when so many relationships are available to invest in.
Most of all, let's remain honest, undefended and kind in how we share our faith with our newfound friends and enjoy the ways Jesus will use your life to love others and connect them to their Maker.
*These statements are taken from research completed for my Masters degree in which I explored commonalities of students coming to faith in Jesus in England today. I gathered data from a spread of institutions, geographical locations, church expressions and interviewed an equal number of male and female students, with some diversity in background and ethnicity as well. Although my findings have limitations and my scope of data had to be small, I believe what I have discovered is still very useful for local churches seeking to share Jesus with students and so this blog series explores the top 12 commonalities discovered. Enjoy!