From the moment a young person goes to university, they will have many questions flying through their mind; Will they make friends? Will they find their way around the city? Will they get immersed in the university culture and disengage with God completely? Do they even want to find a church at university? University has so many distractions and challenges in its culture to force students to lose focus on Jesus. As youth workers, you have a role to play in helping to prepare young people in how to navigate university years with Jesus and help find a church that can champion them in their university adventure.
Jesus and his disciples loved adventure, even when they weren’t always prepared or necessarily focussed on Jesus from the beginning. The feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14 is a perfect example - A large crowd needed to be fed and the disciples weren’t prepared to feed this amount of people with only five loaves and two fish. There was no Deliveroo or Uber Eats on speed dial and it would have been half a year's wages according to the passage to accomplish this challenge by themselves. It was only when they turned their focus to Jesus rather than the issue at hand that the miracle happened and they were then prepared to feed 5,000 people.
God is on the move across universities and you have an important part to play in preparing young people for university. How can they start well, shape the culture of university, make the most of every opportunity given and leave a legacy? Think back to when you were about to head off to university - how did you feel? Did anyone prepare you for what you were about to experience? Emily, a student who reflected on how she prepared for going to university shared that the most valuable things she did to prepare for university was to attend a pizza night her youth leader ran for young people who were going to university to ask questions and process and to go through Fusion’s student linkup box which helped her process topics she hadn’t even thought about yet in heading to university.
Fusion wants every young person to have the opportunity to find home in a church at university. The Student Linkup Box supports youth workers to help prepare youth in the transition to university and help find a church. Its aim is to support young people lay the very best foundation for their time at university and think about who they want to be, how they want to live, what they want to achieve and how to find a church. It can make a great gift from a family member or as a commissioning gift from the church.
It can feel difficult as you help prepare and watch young people leave for university year after year, especially if you have witnessed them grow from birth to adulthood; discipling and celebrating each milestone. It often feels like you’re more nervous for them than they are, asking yourself questions: Will they settle quickly? Are they safe? Will they stay in contact? Will they find a church to settle in?
When I came to university, I used Student Linkup to find a church. Within two days of signing up, I had coffee meetings booked in with three different student workers who wanted to welcome me to the city and help me settle (much to my mum’s relief!). Student Linkup gave me an opportunity to connect with churches before I even arrived in the city and the opportunity for the churches to pray for me in the lead up to moving. As a youth worker, you can help begin those conversations with young people about finding a church before they even arrive at university.
The joy about this transition is that university is a living picture of The Great Commission in Matthew 28.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Maybe you have never thought about preparing young people for university before. Perhaps you have prepared hundreds of young people for university. No matter where you are in preparation for university, know that young people have questions to ask and need a space to process their thoughts with someone they trust. You can help to create that space with them in your youth work role. Being prepared for university made a massive difference to Emily’s university experience and finding a church.
As a youth worker, you can make that difference in young people feeling prepared and confident to embark on the adventure of university.