It is coming to the end of one of the strangest years we’ve ever lived in. Around this time of year a lot of people take time to pause and reflect on their accomplishments, learning curves and celebrations of the past 12 months. Instead of sharing my own revelations with you, I’d like to share some incredibly insightful reflections from 3 students.
Erin is a first year in Exeter.
“These last few months have been the only uni experience we know and so although it has been weird, we came to accept early on that our uni start would be different to usual. What I'm actually nervous for when uni is back to 'normal' first years will have to learn everything new again. I'm still yet to go to a lecture hall, or a normal Church student night, or do my sports trials. I’ve learnt how to be a Christian when drinking in my flat but I haven’t learnt what it looks like to be a Christian on a night out in a club. So in a weird way while we've settled into ‘COVID uni’ fine, there’s still the stress of starting a fresh in a non covid uni environment.
“When all this COVID stuff ends, I feel like I’m going to have to start uni all over again”
Lots of people say to me “we’re so sad that you can’t go to uni as normal” but that actually just stresses me out about what’s coming next because we don’t know what that looks like. I need talks on how to be a Christian on Microsoft Teams because that’s where I am Monday to Saturday. I’m not in a lecture hall. I’m in my flat more than I probably ever would have been.
Don’t just be sad for us but help us figure out how to get the most out of a COVID university experience and how to thrive in this place. Prepare us well for when we’re thrust into a whole new situation when COVID ends.”
Freshers of 2020 have had to face new territory this year and in walking this new ground church searching, socials and discipleship have looked very different. Addressing identity with new students is nothing new however this year many students did not take exams and as a result of this, are processing whether they’re even capable of attending the university they’re at! Erin says this is even causing a different dynamic between gap year students who did take exams and those who have come straight from home. We know that there was already a lot of room for unnecessary self-doubt and comparison in student life pre-COVID and so let’s be prioritizing good questions, encouragement and prayer over our student’s self-worth more than ever before.
Let’s be helping students figure out how to be Jesus’ light in online seminars and let’s be ready to disciple students in how to transition from COVID uni life into one that has fewer restrictions and more clubs; one where the invite to Church is no longer in the comfort of their own home. Let’s pause and reflect on what life as a student has truly been like these last few months and let’s turn and apply that to how we love, welcome and disciple them in these next 3 years.
If you’d like to talk more about how to meet students where they are and how to empower them to thrive in sharing their faith in 2021 in your context, please get in contact with us. We’d love to chat.
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