The university years are to be treasured and enjoyed. They are an opportunity to learn and explore many new things and will help shape the course of student’s life. Whilst there are many life battles to be fought for Christian students in twenty-first student culture, familiarising ourselves with the strategies to fight the battles is a great discipline to hold.
We believe that the church needs to wholeheartedly encourage those who are undergoing life at university. It is time that the university years become a foundational training-ground for Kingdom values and living. We are commanded to make disciples, those who choose daily to follow Christ. It is time to prepare our school leavers like never before.
The drinking culture at university is intense. Often new students haven’t been exposed to alcohol as readily available before. But did you know that 25% of students don’t drink? We believe that Jesus has called students who follow him to be present at the pressure points within the student culture, the drinking scene being no exception. Often Christian students shy away from sports team’s socials and nights-out with housemates because of the openness to alcohol. However, we must ask ourselves, how would the Christian student movement look if every Christian student got involved in sports team’s socials regularly, not drinking to excess but looking out for their friends; calling a taxi for them when they can’t walk, or holding their hair back when they’ve had too much to drink. Jesus was accused of being a drunk, not because he was, but because he partied with those who were. Let’s prepare our young people for a culture in which they can party like Jesus.
School leavers need to have opportunities to discuss their values around alcohol. Question why we value being sober rather than just have a rule about not getting drunk. How can students prepare themselves for the drinking culture and sports club initiations? What boundaries need to be self-imposed? Having an accountability pact starting at the beginning of term means that you can regularly keep in contact with them and ask predetermined questions to keep them encouraged and supported.
The student culture has seen a loneliness epidemic, this is not how God created us to be. A study on loneliness at universities found that 17% of students suffered serious self-doubt and isolation, significantly higher than the general population. Unsurprisingly, loneliness is one of the widest held needs at university. Everyone’s ‘connected’ via social media, but that doesn’t replace our relational needs. However, loneliness itself isn’t the largest battle we face as often it passes over time. The damage is done when we try to fill that void with other dangerous activities that displease God. There is a pain to the feeling of loneliness that cries out for comfort. God’s design is that we find our comfort in God and through connection with others.
We need to prepare school leavers to handle some of the feelings of loneliness, equip them to make new friends and above all value friendship as a gift they have to offer. Loneliness is a serious problem that takes time to cure. The church is called to look out for the least and the lost and to support the vulnerable.
The Bible says that the love of money is at the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). He prescribed the remedy to this evil as radical generosity and sacrificial giving. Some of the symptoms of the evil are consumerism and materialism. Whilst there may be a few signs of this being a problem during the student years it mainly manifests later in life as financial security cements.
Encouraging new students to have a budget in place may seem like the most simple of things but it is important to have the students expectations set on a weekly budget so they aren’t dipping into their overdraft in Freshers week. It is also important to empower students to be ambassadors with their money. If students tithe and give outrageously throughout their student years, imagine the impact of how they will give their money when they have greater financial security.
The current student generation is commonly referred to as the ‘maybe’ generation. Students don’t want to commit to an event or give time just incase something more appealing turns up.
Church is often treated like an optional extra or a gym membership. This has led to church becoming another consumer choice for students. Unsurprisingly, those Freshers who choose to take a break from church in the first couple of weeks rarely go back. One thing that could transform our universities is seeing every new student equipped with the understanding of what it means to be part of a church community whilst they are at university. Committing to a church is more than just attending a Sunday morning service. It is about being a part of the family; serving and blessing in areas the students are gifted. A new student who decides to commit to a church straight away limits more and more the power they stand against on other battlegrounds. They are no longer alone, but in community and supported by a family.
Practically, Student Linkup connects students to churches and churches to students. It provides a bridge between student and church and starts communication before the student has left for university. Help resource your young people for university by signing them up to Student Linkup and buying them a Student Linkup box (£10 from Fusion) so that they can live life rooted in Jesus at university.
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