In this week's Youthwork blog, Rosie Kersys tells us why we need to do more to prepare our young people for university.
'What’s the one thing you’d change about the student landscape?' I got asked this question whilst sipping a festive Starbucks last week. My genuine response to this and heart cry for the student generation is ‘why are there so many Christian students who don't make it to church at uni and therefore struggle even more to live with Jesus?’.
Uni. The unknown. New adventures, new temptations, a scary mountain climb? Each year thousands of young people enter this new life stage across across the UK and around the world. For most, moving to uni are the first real steps of independence, freedom and adventure and like all life stages, it is both exciting and daunting.
Youth workers are some of the busiest people I know. With to do lists the size of Jupiter, you often don't have time to cover everything you want to. Your time is drawn in so many different directions and so we have to prioritise.
But as youth workers, you have a vital part to play in shifting student culture. We believe that the church needs to start wholeheartedly encouraging those who are starting life at uni. It’s time that the uni years become a foundational training ground for Kingdom values and living. It’s time where Jesus is put first. It’s time to prepare our school leavers like never before. And student workers who are ready to receive your young people are relying on you to prepare students for uni.
Our dream is that every student finds a family and community at uni, and we believe that the local church is best placed to offer that. Our prayer is that churches across the UK engage with students, support them and encourage them to be the best disciples they can be whilst living in the middle of student culture. There are so many amazing opportunities for students at uni, and we as the local church have a responsibility to support students before they go and whilst they are there.
But the truth is that it’s a hard thing to do. Each year thousands of Christian freshers move into uni towns and cities. We reckon around 7 out of 10 Christian students won’t find a home in a church when they get to uni. The transition to uni is perilous.
We believe that Jesus and the church are the hope for the whole and if we’re getting specific the hope for the student world. That means we need to take this thing seriously and really think about why and how we’re preparing our young people for uni. We cheer on what you are already doing in your young people but urge you that more is possible.
Dream with us about what could be possible for your young people as they head off to uni and the huge potential that each of them has.
Preparing our school leavers for uni should be priority and part of our DNA as a church. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of this, but with around 99% of students not in church, uni is one of the greatest opportunities for mission and evangelism. God desires a generation of Christian students who will live in the pressure areas of student culture, who don’t apologise for or hide their faith and who build deep friendships with their fellow students. It’s time that we encourage our students to do this. We have a responsibility as the church to help prepare Christian students for university and ensure that every generation of students land well. It’s a big task, but an exciting one.
In the months leading up to September we are laying foundations for young people’s uni years. Are we speaking about the surface-level actions of a Christian life or are you developing young people’s character? It’s not enough to just send them off without more thought than ‘See you at Christmas’. These are the young people we've been investing in for years so there must be more than waving them goodbye as they pack the car full of saucepans.
What we need to see more in youth ministry is the amount of people who are willing to step out in faith and help support and disciple our young people making it a priority without letting them slip by. We need to change the DNA of our youth work so that it becomes who we are and what we do. We need to take seriously the calling of preparing our young people for uni.
4 practical things to do:
- Figure out who’s going to uni in the next couple of years and see what they are thinking of doing and where they might go
- Ask them what they want. Theres no point in running preparation for uni on budgeting if they already know what they are doing.
- Put dates in the diary to meet up with your school leavers and ask them who they want to be at uni
- Get them to download the Student Linkup app on their phone to help them find a church at uni.
Rosie Kersys is the Student Linkup Team Leader for Fusion. She travels around the UK meeting youth workers encouraging them to think about preparation for uni and connecting students to churches in their uni locations.
Welcome to the Youthwork Blog, a space for conversation around the future of youth ministry between the people who care and a range of other topics. Want to write for us? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.