With many young people asking the question, "what will my Freshers week look like?", as well as considering the impact that online lectures may have on their university experience, we asked 4 student workers from different local churches how they're preparing to welcome students back to university in September.
1. We're in a crazy time. What are you doing as a student worker to help welcome Freshers in September?
Luc: We are wanting to let students know that despite how different uni might be this year that God has brought them to our town for a reason. Once you become a student you are stepping into the slipstream of the movement of God happening on campus and in the town.
Lauren: At the moment, we’re connecting via Student Linkup app. We’re planning a virtual hang out for all those who are coming, and some of our second years. Our social media and website are really important in this time so keeping that updated is important - and connecting with anyone who might be coming through this. We’re looking at ways freshers can connect via social media to current students (this seems less daunting reaching out to students than a church leader). We still don’t know if our campus is open or not so we’re planning freshers events that can go online.
Lois: Social media and an online presence will be vital. Using hashtags universities are using, creating resources for students to access online. Over the summer be inviting students through student link up and those we meet on social media to join our Sunday live stream and then hang out with students online throughout the week. Making sure students are involved in a small group from the moment we meet them. And have some social distance gatherings when term has started.
Tim: Praying for you! Practically we are making sure that you can be part of a community as soon as you arrive, both in person and digitally! Making sure you can find out about us and to connect with us digitally. Our small group leaders are taking special care to make themselves available to help you feel welcome. We are excited to welcome you to become part of our church family!
2. What would your advice be to a Fresher who's looking to find a church at uni, in a COVID-19 world?
Luc: I'd say commit to a community quickly, you won't find the perfect church and ask yourself these 3 questions.
Can I see myself growing in discipleship?
Can I see how I can contribute and be released in my gifts?
Is this a church community I'd be comfortable with inviting my friends to?
Lauren: Plug into a church in the place you’re going ASAP. Why not do it now? With church being online you can ‘visit’ a church in your future city now. You have time on your hands so why not look about, reach out to student pastors and start going along to online events. Websites can give you a flavour but it’s only in meeting people do you know if they will become family; connect as early as you can to build a foundation for the long haul. Even if you have a great home church, find a uni one because you’ll need people in the same boat.
Lois: Use Student Linkup, google churchs, ask friends and family of known churches in the town or city you will be going to, check out their websites, social medias and online Sunday services and GET IN TOUCH! (Think outside of the box - try churches that you necessarily wouldn't have thought to before.) If the church knows you are coming they can do more to support you from leaving home to settling into uni and the rest of your time there! Be brave and join in with the things the church invites to you before you get to university.
Tim: Message churches and find out a bit more about them. Get ahead of the game, don't wait till you arrive at your university! Be up for video calling some students from the church to hear what they like about it., It isn't going to be 'normal' but our DNA as a church will still be there!
3. What difference do you think being a part of a church could make for a student during their time at uni?
Luc: At uni, the local church can be the most diverse community you can be a part of who will go out of their wait to call out the very best of you, be committed to seeing you grow and invite you into a beautiful family united by their discipleship to Jesus.
Lauren: Finding a church at uni and a place to call home is the biggest decision you could make. Our freshers comment on how much they have changed at uni and how they finally: fit for the first time; feel seen, loved, accepted; they’re encouraged in their role; are able to see themselves the way God sees them. There are times when you’ll need church, there are times where your friends in church will need you and there will be times when you need each other. If there is anything that COVID has taught us, it’s that we need people. We need community. This is the most life changing time of your life - you’re not meant to do it alone. Find a place to call home and a family to love you well.
Lois: Being in a church is finding your community of belonging, a place to be loved, cared for, supported. A place you will meet lifelong friends and to step into more opportunities to grow and develop in your faith but also as a person. To have people walk side by side with you through your time at university and cheer you on! When you find your church it will be life changing!
Tim: Being part of a church gives you that community which reminds you that you are always loved, welcomed and accepted! I think we all need that and especially in the new, exciting and maybe scary time as we begin uni.
Heading to University this September? Head over to Student Linkup to start searching for a church you could call home.