Mikey, a Student Worker, shares his story of pioneering student work in a small church in Hull.
My name is Mikey, and I am the student pioneer at St John’s Newland church in Hull. Before moving to Hull, I went to a church in Lincoln where I volunteered on the student team where I found a heart for students. Being a student myself I had experienced the very best time as a student and the very worst. I had fallen out of love with Jesus and fallen in love with him all over again and harder than I could have imagined. I knew that I wanted God to use my experiences to help equip others to spread the love and joy that can be found in knowing Christ. Even though my plan had been to stay in Lincoln after my (frankly exhausting) 5 years as a student, it was clear God was calling me to step out and do what he had called me to do.
Whether he could see my extroverted self wanting to spend every minute of every day around people or if he knew that I would be joining a small congregation in a very different environment than I was used to, I didn’t quite know what to expect when I went for my interview and met Richard, the vicar. Richard told me that this job was going to be a challenge and probably very lonely at times. I loved the sound of a challenge, something I had asked God at the beginning of the year was to challenge me every single day, and it was very affirming to know that the challenge God had for me wasn’t small, but it was exciting.
"We had 95 students come to the church in the week to get a free house plant and stay for coffee, cake, and a chat..."
After a painful time, St John's in effect started again with just a handful of people a couple of years ago. By the time I joined there were typically 30 in the congregation. Now, In October we see up to 70 members attending our church on a Sunday. What was clear when I started this role is that everyone involved could feel God about to do something big in Hull and it has been amazing to watch the small beginnings of that so far. Through some amazingly generous funding, out of the blue, St John's suddenly found themselves able to employ a full-time student worker! There was only one student attending regularly so it was clearly going to be a pioneer role…
So where are we at with students? Throughout Freshers week we were the first church at the University of Hull to ever have a stall at the freshers fair meeting with hundreds of students and having the opportunity to invite each one of them to our events. We had 95 students come to the church in the week to get a free house plant and stay for coffee, cake, and a chat. The houseplants and cake were all generously donated by members of our congregation. This time with the students was so fruitful. We knew God was going to show us more than we could imagine, every day we prayed “Lord, just bring at least one”. We were far from disappointed with 94! The week ended with a movie night (Mamma Mia of course) and a BBQ with the church family. We are now seeing about 10 regular students on a Sunday morning, mostly international students which is really exciting.
As a church we are so excited to see the ways in which God is going to move at the university and at St John’s. We are excited to try new things and to grow as a family and as a team.