There are so many students but still you find yourself trying to entice them into your church with goody bags of free stuff so awesome it pretty much just falls short of a new car.
I met some freshers the other day, tempting them with the promise of free coffee, and asked them how their week had been. Answer: we got loads of free stuff (as I handed them free CDs). As I continued to chat with them, though, what became clear was that what they really were craving was relationship. There was a need for someone to be like Jesus but not as cool to help guide them through the week.
As someone with responsibility for students I feel like during fresher’s week I try to be all things to all men. At times I feel like I’m selling out. I put on a big cheesy smile, telling humorous stories, hoping to connect and impress. Hoping to prove that my church rocks.
However, as I met Phil, a nervous fresher who had missed most of fresher’s week and had followed his housemate to church just to be accepted, I got it. Fair enough, having never been in church before and probably freaking out while there, he didn’t end up staying for a free meal. However, I realised why I give away free stuff, sort out free food. Because students like Phil need Jesus along with 50 thousand others, and we are drawing them in through being generous both with free stuff, and with relationship. I have met all types of students over the past 2 weeks from super cool confident ones to ones who are scared of their own shadow; from international students to a local lad from Newcastle. They all have one thing in common – they are all reinventing themselves. Fresher’s week is crazy and busy, however I love it – love overhearing conversations, watching students try to find their way round and watching who the leaders are. Amidst all that, my prayer is that the students I come in contact with plant themselves in a local church, have people to walk alongside them and then as they reinvent themselves, start to imitate their student worker as they in turn imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). Big responsibility!