Transition: Mission Weeks

PlymCUMission weeks or events week are where the CU puts on a week of events that give everyone on campus the opportunity to hear about Jesus. It is an intense week. You spend most of the year planning for it, making sure you have speakers, venues, themes, talk titles and fliers.

I think I have been involved in about 12 mission weeks since being a student. This includes going as a student, staff worker and going along as a guest to a mission week in another Uni. It is a hard week and you end up really tired but it is totally worth it. Here are some reasons why I love it:

  • Seeing students really step out in faith and invite their friends along to hear about Jesus
  • Hearing great talks from mission speakers
  • Meeting to pray every morning and seeing prayers answered
  • Seeing students accept Jesus for the first time
  • Reaching people who may of never have come across a Christian or CU or church before
  • The energy from the students
  • The way the students work together in unity to achieve a week of events
  • Watching things go wrong but then discover that the Lord has used it for good
  • Fliering in the rain… (ok that isn’t one of my favourites…)

I think University provides a great platform for events week and it has been wonderful to be a part of these weeks. I remember it was during a mission week that I led a student to Christ – it was amazing and such an exciting time. I learnt so much through that.

It is strange to think that I won’t really be a part of that process any more, but it is probably a good thing as I don’t think that kind of pattern of ministry is sustainable for the whole life of the church. The model works well at University where terms are short, it’s a quick fire paced life and people are living in very close quarters.

But church is a much slower pace, inviting people in from all walks of life and backgrounds, different situations and questions. The whole CU model of mission couldn’t be mapped on to church life, some of it would, but not all of it and I am looking forward to a different pace of life, with different people, rhythms and questions.

I have learnt so much through mission weeks and I have seen the goodness of the Lord where he has sustained me and provided when we have been in need. If you ever get a chance to be a guest in one, then do – it will open your eyes to some exciting student mission that the CU’s are doing across the UK and the world!

Freshers, Fruit, Flu and Flyering

CUpuddingFreshers Week.

That time of the year where you get lost looking students walking around campus who don’t look old enough to be at Uni. It was 9 years ago when I was a fresher which means this lot of freshers would have been in primary school when I started Uni. I feel old. I feel old when the students ask me if I am going out clubbing with them for the CU VIP night. They said they are starting at 11pm and was wondering if I was going to come and dance the night away with them. I raised an eyebrow. 10pm is bedtime. When I arrive no one will be there and when I leave no one will be there.

I will give it a miss. Thanks anyway.

Freshers flu gets passed around. No one is eating fruit or veg, just free pizza and whatever the CU is giving away. Maybe someone should be giving out free fruit and veg? An Exotic fruit market.. oohh

Hundreds of societies are on campus giving out flyers. You have to wonder which voices are being heard. The ones screaming the loudest, the ones with the funny costumes, the ones with free everything, anything and something.

There is a buzz. Campus is alive. Fresh faces, wide eyes and an expectancy written across their chops. It’s the time of the year where people are most open. You become friends with people you wouldn’t normally, you go along to things you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole – extreme ironing? Sure, I’ll give it a go.

The same questions are flying around. What’s your name? Where you from? What course you doing? What’s your name again? Which societies you joining? How wasted were you last night? Er What’s your name again?…

I spent my first week at uni learning that I needed sleep. Going out till 3am with a 9am lecture in the morning was a recipe for sleeping during a lecture. Especially maths lectures. erg.

I love it. But I love it when it’s over too. There are only so many times you can ask what someones name is. I am glad I am not a fresher anymore, but I still enjoyed coming alongside the CU as they made plans to welcome all freshers to their events. Lots of questions were asked, new friendships were formed and people from all walks of life got to hear about Jesus. It is a good time of the year to consider who Jesus is. What an exciting opportunity.

Freshers 2013. Over and Out.

Your Thoughts:

Do you remember freshers week? Any funny stories from it? Did you meet the CU in freshers week? What did you think?

Christian Leadership

Mnextleadersichael Green who is an author and evangelist did an interview two years ago about Christian leadership. He shares some of his story in this and encourages the next generation to be bold and take risks. Do take time to listen to the interview, it is rather inspiring.

We have much to learn from our older generation, they have much wisdom to teach us. And here are just a few things that Michael Green says about the marks of a Christian leader.

Firstly a leader is born, not made. It’s in their DNA! When looking for CU leaders we are looking for people who can lead, that can set an example and shine, that can gather people around them and set the vision. But leaders don’t have to be loud or in your face, instead there needs to be:

1. Servant Leadership: Not pushing people around but instead serve them. Being the first to serve, the first to put the towel around the waist and wash others feet. Often we see leadership as the one sthat makes all the decisions, the one with authority and in charge. But actually good leadership is the serving kind. The one that puts others before yourself, the one who loves first and forgives quickly.

I know people who get upset that they are not leaders, students that didn’t make committee or people who didn’t make elders. They think their ideas are better and they are better than those who are in leadership. But perhaps there is something to learn here, to humble yourself and to serve others without complaining will show greater marks of leadership than those who complain and speak louder than others.

2. Balance: Not pushing one theology or agenda over another. But keeping a balance. If you focus on one and go too far that way then it sets the agenda for everything you do which could distort your ministry and scripture. The point I think he is making is that there needs to be a balance, a balance of evangelism and feeding the poor, a balance of caring for widows and youth work. Not straying into one area and forgetting another. He says he prays for balance every day.

3. Risk: Be prepared to make mistakes. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to be weak. Christians are weak and they fail often. A leader doesn’t hide away from opportunities because they are afraid to fail. A leader takes a opportunity, gives it a go and then if they fall over they will be picked up again and carry on. CU Leaders need to take risk and have space to fail – putting too much pressure on them to get it right first time seems very ungracious.

4.Shared: Your team has gifts and they need to share in your leadership. It’s very easy to think you can do it all and do it all by yourself. But a mark of a good leader is one that can share their leadership with others. They need to give opportunities to others to learn how to lead and to use their gifts.

Lastly nobody should minister without being ministered to. They need to be looked after. Get a mentor or get someone who will be honest with you. As a leader you need to be accountable to someone, you need honest conversations, you need to be cared for before you care for others so that you don’t burn out.

Obviously there are probably more areas, more areas of character for sure. But these are just a few that Michael Green spoke about which I found helpful.

Fears in Freshers week

I have just spent the week helping the CU run events in freshers week. It made me think back to my freshers week and how glad I am that I am not a fresher anymore. I really hate that new feeling you have, where you are driving up to the Uni and all you are thinking about is whether you are going to like this experience, whether anyone will like you or will you like anyone. What happens if it’s a disaster and you end up with no friends? That was probably my biggest fear. Even though looking back now it seemed rather a silly fear! The other thing you think about is who you are and who you are going to be. In that first week you could be anyone you wanted to be, you could make up a mask of a new identity and no one would know that’s not the real you. (Even though they may eventually find out). Those are the two biggest fears I had when arriving at Uni – Will I make any friends and Who am I going to be and will anyone like me?

I guess those two fears are all about how I relate to people and how they relate back to me. I was on the edge of Christianity, ready to leave God behind and pursue the University Experience. I had only become a Christian a few months back and those first few months were like a storm ready to swallow me up and I had enough of this God. So who was I going to be? A Christian? A social butterfly that never has an empty glass? A hermit striving for good grades? I think I tried all of those things in freshers week – I went to parties, stayed up till 4am, drank a bit too much and then confessed I was a Christian but I wasn’t really sure what that meant. I made friends with people who knew how to party well and I hung out with them. I hang out with the computer scientists that could programme anything in seconds (where I would stare blankly at the screen and tried to figure out what all those brackets meant)… The fear of not having any friends subsided, I could make friends with people that wasnt the issue anymore. But this identity thing and the constant question of Who am I? was bothering me. It wasn’t until I was taken to the CU meeting that I met some Christians who loved Jesus and I heard the Gospel that the penny dropped. I was looking for my identity in the wrong places and it was making me miserable. Over the weeks I understood the Gospel more and what it meant to be a Christian and I saw that my identity is in Christ. Which gives a sigh of relief. It also gave me such great freedom to still hang out with  my mates that liked to party hard and those that like to sit in front of the PC creating programmes for NASA… (maybe not NASA?)… But soon my fears of friendship and identity soon faded and I found my place. There were times I forgot my identity, but at some point I was reminded who I was and that I was loved.

All these freshers I see are probably thinking and doing the same. They have fears and expectations and are striving to fit in and find their identity. I hope at some point they meet a Christian and hear about Jesus, so that like me they may find their identity can be in Christ whom gives great freedom to us. For the CU that’s what this week was about – sharing Jesus with Freshers who are lost, confused and sure of themselves. Do pray with us that these freshers meet Jesus.