Here are the key characteristics of CU Impact Groups.
CU Impact Group material has been crafted to allow groups to keep meeting virtually whenever physical gathering is not possible for any reason. Some groups may only be able to meet virtually. A time may come when others are able to meet in person - when it’s practical, safe and legal to do so. But part of the beauty of the model is that CU Impact Groups can keep meeting, even if things change. For this reason, we suggest keeping these groups small, as smaller gatherings work better online, especially when accessed from a phone or a laptop.
Being committed to the local church is one of UCCF’s six core values. Each term, CUs are encouraged to place high emphasis on organising ‘church searches’. Many new students only find their way into church because they are brought by members of the CU. This will be much more challenging this year. Caring for new students and keeping them connected to Christians so that they can be introduced to a local church is more vital than ever.
Social distancing restrictions may mean that some local churches will not be able to welcome new students as they’d like. Some churches are likely to cap numbers of physical attendees; others may not physically gather at all at the beginning of the student term. Large organised CU church searches will also be much more difficult to host.
We anticipate that students will approach finding a church in a range of ways. Most new students will struggle to settle in a church before physically visiting. There’s a high chance that, without local relationships, many Christian students will simply drift, lacking confidence to tackle searching for a church by themselves. CU Impact Groups will help new students grow in friendship with returning students who can walk alongside them as they navigate the path into a local church.
New students are much more likely to attend a local church if accompanied by members of their Impact Group. The importance of making sure we do not have a generation of Christian students disengaged from local church life cannot be overstated. CU Impact Groups have a key role to play in ensuring this does not happen.
New students probably have most to gain through being part of CU Impact Groups. But returning students have a key role to play, offering much needed friendship, local knowledge and inspiration for mission. Outside of the Impact Group setting, it will be hard for these relationships to grow. With a likely quieter social timetable, we hope many returning students will relish the opportunity of offering friendship in this way.
CU Impact Groups will start the week after Forum, allowing new and returning students to start building friendships and get equipped together for the new term even before freshers’ week. These early relationships will be vital in helping some new students, both British and international, to start the term confidently in living and speaking for Jesus.
CU Impact Group leaders will be given specially written material that’s ready-for-use. Bible input from Philippians will primarily be delivered through a series of videos, freeing leaders to help members consider the impact of God’s word – and how, in turn, they might impact others in Jesus’ name. The material can be easily customised according to your own university context.
Don Carson’s guide to Philippians, Basics for Believers, and Becky Pippert’s Stay Salt, a brilliant primer on evangelism, will be available to CU Impact Group members to purchase at a massively subsidised price of £5 (including delivery) for the two books combined. Their material is weaved into the Impact group sessions, giving group members deep convictions in Scripture and in mission.
Where possible, CU Impact Groups will have a mission field in common – perhaps an academic department or a hall of residence (with returning students joining the Impact Group of their own hall). Group members will be able to share experiences of speaking for Jesus in these contexts and, as restrictions are lifted, may be able to host evangelistic events together. In the meantime, individual Christians will be equipped to make Jesus known where God has placed them. These Impact Groups will also provide a natural place to draw in seeking friends as they are gradually introduced to local churches.
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