“Isn’t that wrong though? I mean, a party in church? Sex and drugs and all that in a church building is just wrong.”
The Fresher scratched his head and shook it at the thought of a welcome party being hosted by and in a church.
“I think perhaps we have a slightly different take on what a party is mate. Last party I went to I didn’t shoot up and have sex in the middle of it, I actually just had a good times with my friends... what sort of parties do you go to?!”
We all laughed. The four London fresher-friends stood at the Hull Uni bus stop waiting for the next ride into town, enjoying the free lollypops myself and students Matt and Chloe had just handed them, whilst eyeing up the welcome party invites they’d also received. On my second leg of the #fusionroadtrip I’d found myself out and about on the streets of Hull, serving alongside the fantastic Vineyard church. We were wearing t-shirts with big, bold words: Love. Serve. Party. Quite the statement of intent for a local church. And yet entirely true.
“God and parties don’t mix though do they...” The conversation continued, sparked by the fact the church were hosting an amazing welcome party for new students in Hull, complete with a magician, two brilliant local bands, a professional face-painter and free dominos pizza.
“What was the first recorded miracle Jesus did?” I asked. One of the girls piped up “Water into wine” and I smiled, turns out she must have had some background in faith. We chatted about the fact that Jesus is recorded as having revitalised a wedding party by turning big jars of water into the finest wine of the celebration. This somewhat impressed the lads. We agreed that if God was throwing the party, he was probably into it, and so with a wave and a “see you tonight!” the four friends were off on the bus, lollies and invites in hand.
Perhaps there’s a party-loving side to God we need to not forget about and in fact introduce Freshers to, in the party culture of uni life?
That night over one hundred students were connecting, eating, laughing and being face-painted in the church building. The majority were new students and plenty weren’t Christians. Hull Vineyard spent their freshers week giving away welcome packs (washing up liquid and bread) and inviting anyone and everyone to the welcome party, to church and to the campus Alpha course. They sacrificed sleep to give out over 500 bottles of water outside the SU at 1am on the big club night. They were there with a tea and coffee van in the morning, helping freshers wake up for their day as they queued for the bus outside their halls of residence. The local church was honestly characterised by selfless loving, serving and partying in all they did- no t-shirt statements necessary.
It was a privilege to be on the road in Hull and it has reminded me what a priority loving and serving should be when it comes to sharing Jesus in our student welcomes. Love-serve-party-Jesus all the way.