What happens when you gather 13 student workers and students from 7 churches on a stall at a University Freshers Fair? Unity happens, and students want to try church.
It was on a try church stand at a Freshers Fair last week that I began to see an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. In these verses, Jesus prays for complete unity amongst all believers so that the world knows His love for humanity. Amongst all the invites given and words spoken, the message of unity spoke the loudest. It shouted over the crowds choosing a quick, free fix and was brighter than the flashiest stands. It was a message that turned heads, caused students to question and relationships to begin.
It’s a simple practice but one that attracts students to the church. One student asked, ‘I think it’s really cool that you have people from all different churches, but don’t you find that there is competition?’. Nothing brought me more joy than to tell her wholeheartedly that I had witnessed no competition that day, only celebration as students signed up to begin the best adventure of their life.
In almost every conversation, the message of unity spoke the loudest and was often the turning point in students’ decisions to try church.
This month hundreds of Freshers have been invited to try church for the first time at Freshers Fairs around the UK. Alongside student workers and students from local churches, Fusion has attended 25 universities, a rise from last year! With an increased openness to faith, it is not uncommon for students to sign up to try church for the first time whilst at university, and the #TryChurch stand at the University of Sheffield was no different.
Students were interested in who we were and what we were doing, and as I explained, they were pleasantly surprised to see that Christians from different churches across the city were working together to reach students.
…and that’s when it hit me.
We are the answer to Jesus’ prayer.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." -
Unity speaks loudly to a generation that is often forced to be divided.
Unity says yes to celebration and no to competition.
Unity was embodied as one student worker spoke well of another.
It’s unity that calls students home.
How can you embody unity in your university city?