What does it look like for the church to be innovative, creative and open to all? The last year has presented us with many opportunities to rethink church. For most, it has felt exciting and exhausting simultaneously as we prioritised new ways of pioneering and finding connection, and for Mads, a Student Worker in Lincoln, her experience is no different.
Mads, alongside her students and staff team, had been prayer walking around an area highly populated with students, seeing little breakthrough. Still, they persisted, and earlier this year, they were approached by a local parish church asking for support.
“Prayer walking has been a constant part of our church life, and we’d been prayer walking around this parish for 2 years. A local parish church asked for some support, and there’s only about 10 of them, but they have vision and know what they want to see happen. They knew they wanted to see lives transformed.”
Alongside the local church, they began to host outside services, as they allowed for singing as well as more people to join in.
“We decided to do something outside on an evening because we can sing, and we know there are so many students there. We were just praying for a breakthrough and for something to shift. We were praying for strongholds to be broken and new ground to be taken. Honestly, we pray that so often and we hope God does something with not as much expectancy as we should have.
As soon as they heard us worshipping, the students living next door brought all their uni work outside and watched the whole time. Another student was also drawn out of their house on that street and chatted with the vicar about faith. Afterward, we went to speak to the neighbours. I offered them a drink over the wall and they accepted. They told us that they’d heard us singing and were drawn outside. They loved what we were doing and even noticed that a huge rainbow appeared over us as we worshiped and didn’t go away until the service was over! One student said, ‘I’m not religious, but I love this. It feels like home.’ They then asked us to include them in any future events or services!"
When asked how she felt about rethinking church, Mads’ response was one of hope.
"Unsurprisingly, people aren’t as open to conversations about faith when the church doors are shut or the Christians are inside the building.”
“The last year has required me to be innovative, which means I get to use my creativity and think of new ideas! If things don’t work, that’s fine, we adjust and try again. When I compare the number of conversations we’ve had this last year to years before, there are so many more. Unsurprisingly, people aren’t as open to conversations about faith when the church doors are shut or the Christians are inside the building.”
For Mads, the last year has not been without challenge, but has also been a time of innovation, creativity and resilience. Over the next few months, preparing for students to move onto campus, what opportunities can you make the most of?