We’ve been attempting to get a cell group going at a local university campus recently and it’s proven to have a few false starts.
I was given a list of email addresses before the beginning of the term of students who had signed up as interested in getting involved in a Christian cell (at summer hols Christian knees-ups they get the chance to sign up for such things). So, I emailed the lot and we set off to the campus, accompanied by a large teddy bear to mark us out (it seemed the right balance of easy to spot and not too threatening), and sat around in a coffee shop.
One student turned up.
Which was fine. He even turned up the next week (back in the coffee shop with Big Bear). He was a jolly nice chap and even let us meet up in his student room the following week. We almost has a cell group – but then he decided that he’d rather ‘do’ the Christian Union (which was fair enough really, given that he was the only true bona fide university student in the group!)
It’s felt like walking on water (will we sink next step? Yes – no, we’re still going – just!)
Our next approach is to meet fortnightly in the chapel in the university chaplaincy - we’re going to invite some old student friends along – they’ve been going along to a different church, but one of them let slip that she could do with a bit more fellowship – which may be where the Jesus Fellowship comes in!). In the in-between weeks, we’ll get round the campus and see who we meet – and gossip the gospel.
Why are we so keen to reach out to students?
Well – it’s something like this: when I walk around the campus of a university and see young men and women, full of potential, full of skills and intelligence, there’s something within me that protests against the fact that they’re all being trained to use those skills for the world. By the world, I mean the fallen system, which for all its light, half-light and darkness is basically fallen: a cul-de-sac.
There’s a kingdom, there’s a cause, there’s a need of leaders for the purposes of God. Now I know that leaders will often come not from those the world regards as highly educated or privileged (God seems to delight in choosing and using those who the world would want to dismiss as no-hopers). But nevertheless – I want some young people with the stability and acumen to lend their weight to the advance of the cause of Jesus.
One senior leader in our church made the observation that students are difficult to attract to a radical church like ours because they are basically set on an agenda of self-improvement and upward-mobility that means they can ‘smell commitment a mile off – and avoid it like the plague’.
Well, that may be, but there must be some young dreamers out there, some searchers looking for something of eternal worth. And I want to find them. So we’re not giving up on the uni cell just yet.