It’s been such a great journey to get our Student Ministry up and running over the last few months. We started back in September and on the day of the launch I got a phone call from the local vicar, John, to prepare me for the masses he was expecting to come for dinner that evening. So we went out to get extra food and cooked for about 100 people. We had about 20kg of mashed potatoes, 8kg of peas and hundreds of Cumberland sausages – we were ready for the students to descend on us. Imagine our surprise when not a single student showed up!
We were all a bit disappointed, but also felt compelled to keep trying. The next week we went out with flyers to speak with students before the meal, and that night about 10 students showed up. The week after, we had about 25 students. And so it has continued: last time we had between 40 and 50 students! It’s been a privilege to get to know some of them as we’ve sat around the dinner tables chatting with them.
Of course, our focus isn’t just to serve dinners but to build relationship with the students and share God’s love with them. So alongside having dinner together with the students, we have also run a few events on Saturdays this autumn and are planning to run a Student Alpha course in the beginning of next year together with the church. Already we have had some really deep conversations about life, God and the universe and have been able to pray with students. Together with a few different people in church leadership in Carlisle we’re also exploring how to be church in new ways and how to be relevant to an 18-30 population. It is incredibly exciting to work together with local church to work out how to better serve the people in our cities, and we can’t wait to see how God will work in people’s lives through all this.
‘I have so many questions about Christianity; like I find it intriguing that Christians believe in the creation story rather than looking at the scientific evidence for how the world came to be! I’d love to hear more about that’, said one of the girls around the dinner table a few weeks ago.
‘No, I don’t go to church, but I believe in God’, said one of the guys when asked about his faith.
‘Oh, that’s cool, because we’re in this process of exploring what relevant church could look like to somebody like you and me. You know we’re thinking church is important, but it maybe needs to look a bit differently to what it commonly looks like now, in order for it to work for people like us?’, said I.
‘Yes, yes, I totally have loads of ideas about what that could be like!’, he answers, and so a conversation begins…
‘I asked a girl out yesterday and she said she’d call me back, how long should I wait before I contact her again?’ asked one of the guys when one of our girls sat at his table.
From the very beginning we felt that God wanted this whole ministry to reflect his heart of hospitality and generosity, and we have been astonished at how this has been reflected in all kinds of aspects of the ministry already. As we’ve raised money and prepared to launch this ministry we’ve been so thankful for people’s generosity both financially and in helping with anything from serving the meals to chatting with the students around the tables. As we reach out to the students, we’re convinced that the hospitable, generous and loving God that cares so much about each one of them is drawing people to himself, and we so look forward to seeing people come to know him.