I recently heard a compelling presentation by Rich Wilson of recent research into student time and university experience. The research showed that with work pressure and part-time jobs students have less and less social time on their hands (look out for a white paper on student time coming soon). How are we responding to this new challenge as a church?
Students used to have gallons of time and the ability to get involved with countless social circles, that opportunity is narrowing. As they can commit to fewer things, how much are we, as the church, putting on their plate and, perhaps more importantly, what are we encouraging students to invest in whilst they’re at university?
Is it lots of church activities, lots of ‘Christian’ activities? Is it getting involved in university life, leading sports societies, starting their own campaigning groups, developing their skills, passions and gifts inside and outside the church community? Are they investing solely in Christian friendships or are we seeing them build wide, diverse friendship groups? Are they delivering on the things they commit to or are they over-committing to too many things? Is what they're investing in having an impact on their lives and the lives of those around them?
Are we helping students to live well through our activities, our expectations, our teaching and what we model? The church is called to be the light of the world, to make an impact on our community, to be a missional body which sees people come to discover (and daily further discover) Jesus. As part of this we are called to be diligent workers, faithful friends, daily disciples.
With leisure time decreasing for students we can no longer say ‘just do everything’. How do we as the church help students to invest their time at university well?