Each year the halls next to St John’s church host a welcome BBQ. Burgers are flipped and students wander down for some free food and, the halls hopes, some new student bonding time. Unfortunately though, the students have seemed rather more interested in the former than the latter - collecting their burgers and heading back to their rooms to eat in peace. Enter the church : making awkward social interaction into party fun. Actually.
This year, St John’s church hosted the halls welcome BBQ and it was epic! The halls booked a band, the church booked inflatable sumo suits and hosted it all in their warehouse just next door. The response was amazing, with students socialising, making new friends and connecting with the church’s work as they went. Flyers everywhere made sure students had a chance to discover what was going on at the church and since then the relationship has grown and grown.
When the church was being renovated, the halls hosted the church's fortnightly ‘student chill’ in the common room and others who lived there joined in. Students who connect at these points are starting to get more involved in wider church activities. St John's poster for their events in the halls and are planning an even better welcome for next freshers week.
As well as their relationship with the halls, the church is serving students wherever it can - university music groups use their building for concerts and the church round off the night by throwing a party for those performing. Its another chance to celebrate with those who celebrate and to make the church a hub of fun, joy and growing relationships.
Joel, curate and student team leader at St John's, says its all about relationship - there’s trust, an ongoing conversation and friendship there. The halls can trust the church not to do anything inappropriate because they’ve proven themselves to serve with integrity, doing what they say they’ll do and improving student experience for those living in the halls.
What halls are on your doorstep? Have you ever offered to serve them? What do you have that you could share with them? Are you prepared to build a relationship of trust in order to serve the students on your doorstep?