It’s a Sunday morning. As I lie awake, reflecting on events from the night before, it suddenly hits me.
‘If you were at home, you’d be at church right now’.
For the first 18 years of my life, I’d spent every Sunday morning on the front row of my dad’s church. But, like roughly two-thirds of students and young adults who grow up in church, my attendance – and my faith – had started slipping.
I had every intention of finding a church. But before I knew it, weeks, and even months had passed.
Between getting to know my housemates, signing up for every society imaginable and just trying to get people to like me, Jesus had taken a back seat.
As I sat in my little box room in my student flat, I felt the Holy Spirit speak. I had to make a choice. If I was serious about pursuing Jesus, I had to find a church.
. . .
This year, thousands of students from across the UK will be heading to Uni for the very first time.
And if that’s you, you’ll be walking into a University environment as no one has ever experienced.
Online lectures, course ‘bubbles’, digital freshers fairs and Zoom seminars probably weren’t what you anticipated when you dreamt of this moment.
Maybe you’re feeling excited about what is to come! After all, anything is better than another night stuck in the house, falling out with your family over a game of Monopoly.
Maybe you’re feeling pretty anxious, or even disappointed. With the chaos of results day, you might not even be heading to the city you’d been preparing yourself for since you filled out your UCAS form.
University life comes with its challenges – and this year is certainly no exception – but it’s also a time that’s full of opportunities.
And I truly believe that if you’re up for it, God still has amazing plans for you this year. And for your time at Uni.
. . .
So. What does it actually look like to pursue Jesus while at Uni?
Well, as I mentioned, for me the first step was to find a church. As followers of Jesus, we need to get ourselves into a community that’s going to challenge and encourage us to look more like Him.
But finding a church can definitely feel overwhelming – especially if you’re in a big city – so why not check out the VCUKI church finder or the Fusion Student Linkup app? They’re both great ways to find a church near you that’s passionate about investing in students!
Secondly, in their book ‘Faith for Exiles’, David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock point out that if our generation wants to grow to become what they call ‘resilient’ disciples of Jesus, we need to be investing in meaningful relationships with other believers.
Don’t get me wrong, Jesus surrounded himself with friends who didn’t know his Father. The students in your halls need to know the hope of Jesus, and you might be the only person in their lives who can show them that!
It’s so important that we don’t get ourselves caught up in a ‘Christian bubble’.
But we also need to surround ourselves with people who will keep us accountable. Who we can read the Bible and pray together with. Who will remind us of who God is, especially when times get tough.
And thirdly, we’ve got to remember who we are and whose we are. FOMO is a real thing people! And it can be so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and comparing our lives to theirs.
According to the author, Timothy Keller, what the Bible shows us is that our real problem is ‘every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus’.
Most people look at Uni as a time to reinvent themselves. To choose who they want to be and grow into who they’re desperate to become.
But what if in a world where everyone’s trying to find themselves, we instead chose to find our hope in Jesus?
. . .
For me, my Uni years were some of the best of my life. Jesus met me in a moment where I was trying to figure out who I was, and instead, he showed me who he is.
So my prayer for you as you head to University this autumn, is that you would discover that too.
Find yourself a church community, invest in relationships that are going to push you closer towards Jesus, and always remember who you are, and whose you are. (And of course, don’t forget to make the most of every single exciting opportunity along the way!)
If you’re heading to University this September we’d love to point you towards our Church Finder to find and connect with your nearest Vineyard church. We believe this will help the transition of moving homes so much easier!