How can we be a welcoming community for students?

If you’re reading this, you’re likely thinking about how to welcome new and existing students to your city and church. As you well know, welcome is one of the key factors of people sticking about in a church. Often when you ask them ‘what made you want to stay at this church?’, you hear them saying ‘because I felt welcomed and a part of the community.’


So, how can we be a welcoming community for students?

From my recent conversation with Jess, the student and YA pastor at City Church Swansea, I noticed a gradual but steady growth in their ministry in the past 7 months as a result of their welcome and prayers.

Jess started her role as a student pastor in September and started the year with 15 students. At the beginning of the year, they did 6 weeks of free lunches after Sunday Service. At first, they started with putting out 15 chairs and by week 4 they had 70. They didn’t do anything spectacular or unusual, just free food, a fun game and a time to connect.

Before the start of the academic year, she started walking around the local student accommodations surrounding their church and ‘praying that Jesus would meet them where they were at and bring them home - whether that’s for the first time or as an old friend they once knew. Whether that was to welcome them with notes, baskets or free coffee tokens, the point was for them to feel welcomed to Swansea.’ 

Jess said, “gradually, more and more students have joined our church services. We meet new faces every week, some of which have found salvation, others filled with the Holy Spirit for the first time, others have just come back to the Lord with a passion to worship Him. We had a couple of students who would invite all of their flatmates to church, who would then invite their friends. We’ve tried to invest into those students who clearly have a passion for evangelism, so they have more tools, knowledge and encouragement to continue.

The students joining were ready for connection and wanting to be plugged into a church - all we needed to do was to have something for them to belong to, a place to meet and be with other hungry believers.

What I also felt God directing me to do with the students and young adults ministry was to focus on our YA first and build a culture of hunger, passion and connection, so that there was already a built community and welcoming home for the students. Our 18-30’s group has been pivotal in the growth we’ve seen with the students. They have made them feel welcome, invited them to socialise or meet one on one for a coffee to hear their story. In fact, without them, I’m unsure we would have seen much growth at all really.

It’s strange to describe but it hasn’t been this extravagant move of God where large groups of students have suddenly come to City Church. It’s more of a gradual increase over the last 7 months where they keep finding us or coming with a friend and feeling at home here. I do believe prayer and having a ready made place to find community has been instrumental."


Do you find this story a helpful example to use to welcome students to your church? Why wait until september? Give it a go now, 'for the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.' (Luke 10:2)

Maral Harries

Partnership Developer

Maral is passionate about student mission because she first experienced God's love through hearing the Gospel at uni in Iran. She is now part of the Partnership Team based in Wales serving churches to reach the 99% of students who don't yet know Jesus.

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