Before I started university, I had a 7 week summer holiday. I had little to no experience with cooking meals, so my mum did the maths and worked out that there were 7 days in a week, 7 weeks in a summer, and therefore she could teach me a meal a week to ensure I didn’t starve or live off of Pot Noodles at university.
I began university with 7 meals under my belt and would go on to discover that there were, in fact, more options than the 7 I began with. In the four years since, I can confirm that I know more than 7 meals now. I could even cook you a full on roast with all the trimmings if you wanted. I digress.
Not all mums are so proactive. Many students start uni with no experience in cooking or meal prep and Nicola, a student worker in Wycombe, recognised this practical need in the students at Bucks New Uni.
Nicola isn’t an expert chef, nor does she have years of training behind her, but she can make a fantastic vegetable curry and enjoys exploring new cooking hacks. She didn’t keep her skills to herself, but instead invited students to learn together and give cooking a go. She extended an invite to the students in her church and offered free cooking classes combined with small group afterwards, and to her surprise, students started attending.
Eating is perhaps one of the most basic human needs, and once all the flavours of Pot Noodles and ready meal deals have been exhausted, most students are ready to branch out. Nicola’s idea was simple but genius, and met a real, practical need on campus.
But it was so much more than cooking classes. It was a space for students to build community, to connect on a deeper level and to ask questions. Every time students walk through the doors of the church to their weekly cooking class, they experience a little more of what church at university could look like.
Much like this, Jesus invited his followers and friends to eat around the table with him. The table is a place of connection; a place to get to know new people, get to know a new faith and explore current truths. Jesus chose the dinner table to share his ultimate plan for saving all of humanity. He didn't choose a platform, a stage or a sermon. Instead, He chose a conversation over food and a point of connection. What would it look like to invite others around the dinner table, to a point of connection?
'Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.'
Ideas like this are simple, yet make a huge impact on university life, and are so easily replicated.
What could you do to help meet a practical and spiritual need on campus?