Pippa is the student worker at Preston Minster. She’s passionate about seeing more of the 40,000 students in Preston come to know Jesus and find home in the local church.
Just north of Manchester, Preston campus forms part of the University of Central Lancashire, making up a third of the population of the city of Preston. Pippa began her role as student worker at Preston Minster in the summer of 2021 and has seen God do amazing things since.
Alongside her role at Preston Minster, Pippa is also the Chaplain for the uni. Just by having a staff ID card she’s found that she’s been allowed into spaces that would normally be hard for churches to reach, and wants to use that opportunity and favour to tell students about Jesus.
Ahead of launching an Alpha course at church, Pippa asked the university if they could do a pop-up stand on campus to invite students along. Amazingly the uni agreed and she got 8 students to come along and do shifts on the stand, as well as giving out leaflets around campus and chatting to students about Alpha. They had some exciting conversations about Jesus with students all over campus, but they struggled to gauge how many would actually be interested in trying Alpha.
The launch night was that night and 11 students came who had no previous connection with church, all as a result of leafleting and the pop-up stall.
Some of the 11 were exploring faith for the first time and some were following another religion but open to christianity. What Pippa was excited by was their openness to try church and hear about Jesus.
They’re now about half way through the course and of the 11 new students, about half have still continued. When I asked Pippa why she thought some students had stuck around, she reflected that the sense of community was really important. Almost all the students who came were internationals and English was a second language for them, so making friends at uni has been particularly difficult. She also recognised that inviting students who were far from home to share food together was an amazing way of building community!
It can feel daunting to try to reach the 99% of students on campus who don’t know Jesus, but it all starts with one invite. And who knows, it could lead to students forming community, and finding Jesus.
So, what about you? What's your context? What ways could you invite students on campus to try church?