Summer is nearly over and with the start of term just over a month away, it's time to start thinking about freshers again. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
Make sure your info is up to date
Does your church website have a student page? Can it be found easily and is the information all up to date? Is your facebook page current? Also, every Fusion Connection Church has a page on our website so take a look at yours and make any changes necessary. If you don’t know how to update your page, drop us an email.
Follow up on studentlinkup contacts
Fusion Connection Churches have access to a list of freshers going to their local universities who have signed up through studentlinkup. This list is a golden opportunity; each contact is a chance for a student to stay connected and continue in their journey with God. We recommend that you send individual emails to the students and also feel free to call those who have given their phone number. It’s not about the hard sell but about encouraging them to connect with a church, whichever church. We all win if each student finds a church that they can really make their home in. For me info on this click here.
Consider putting together a student welcome pack to give out to students you meet at your Freshers Fair stand, at church or for any random connections you make. It could include info on the vision and values of your church and student work alongside helpful and fun local information and, of course, some little freebies! More adventurous packs could also include a dvd of a talk or get your student team or some current students to put together a video about your church and the student work. You can then use this in gatherings as well as sticking it on facebook.
Be intentional about welcoming students particularly during the first few church gatherings of term. Try and get a slot to introduce yourself and the student work at the front, make yourself known and create some space afterwards to hang out and get to know some people. Welcome meals early on in the term could be a good move: free pizza round someone's house always goes down well!
What creative ideas might work to welcome students to your town, introduce your church and show them a bit of Jesus? Here are some ideas that we have heard about:
- Helping move freshers into their halls of residence
- Getting hold of copies of the Student Alphabet to give out to freshers (check out studentlinkup.org for all our resources for those heading to university)
- Offer to pick up international students from the airport
- Plan a party
- Make loads of cakes and give them out as people arrive
- Hire a human table football, put it on campus and let students use it for free
The main thing is to get to know the students who are coming to the uni and maintain that contact. Get some email addresses and send a regular email for the first few weeks even if they don't come along. You might feel like you're giving a 'hard sell' for your church but just be authentic about what you feel your community is about and students will eventually find where they belong. Often people get caught up in the craziness and don't actually get to church until later in the term. It's worth doing another push to welcome new students immediately after Christmas because a lot of students have settled in more by then and want to get involved.