Have you ever wanted to share your faith with a friend, but haven’t been sure when to take the plunge? Perhaps you were waiting for a window of opportunity, or an appropriate gap in the conversation. Just the right moment.
For students, the right moment is now.
In the next few weeks, many of their peers will be more open to hearing the gospel than usual. Here are three reasons why.
For 11 months of the year, churches looming over villages and town centres are alien to younger generations. The majority haven’t grown up regularly attending one, and generally consider Christianity to be outdated, even threatening. They walk quickly past, and don't consider going in.
But did you know young people today are twice as likely to attend a place of worship over the Christmas period than those over 55?*
Perhaps this is because of a characteristic spiritual curiosity and openness. Perhaps stable Christmas tradition is even more attractive amid the national uncertainty of recent years. Perhaps happy festivity is even more needed in a world where anxiety is on the rise. Whatever the reason, under soft Christmas lights, church is suddenly an inviting and acceptable place to be.
And, as this wariness of Christianity is suspended across campus, CU students have a wonderful opportunity to share what their faith is really all about.
Ollie (name changed) lived opposite a church in Portsmouth. He’d seen things happening there before but had never gone along. On the day of the CU’s carol service last year, the students on the door invited him in as he was walking past. He decided to go! He loved the service, where he got chatting with a student worker and the guy running the tech. They invited him to church the following Sunday and, after attending regularly for a few months, he gave his life to Christ.
At Christmas, as another year ends, conversations can become reflective and questioning. This may be especially true for freshers finishing their first term away from home. Having finally had freedom to make all their own choices, they may be asking themselves: what is life really all about?
In December, students may be ready not just to question pre-conceived ideas of Christianity, but to question their own need, purpose and hope.
In the autumn term last year, Emma (name changed) stumbled across a video of a Christian sharing their testimony on YouTube. She began imagining what it would feel like to be unconditionally loved, bought a Bible and started reading it – but struggled with parts she didn’t understand. She was excited when her coursemate in University of South Wales Treforest CU invited her to their lunchtime event called ‘Something more than a Christmas romance.’ There, she opened up to her friend about how she’d been feeling, and they agreed to read Uncover Mark.
Finally, Christmas is a time when Christian students fix their eyes again on Jesus – finding joy in remembering why He came. And this will be the best witness of all. Maybe students who thought their Christian friends were simply ‘religious’ and church-going, will be struck by their delight in Jesus at Christmas. Maybe they’ve had the odd chat about the credibility of the Bible, but now realise Christianity isn’t just an intellectual set of beliefs – but something that affects the heart.
Naomi (name changed) came to Royal Holloway CU’s carol service last year. She came jokingly saying it was only to ‘heckle her old flatmate’, who was the CU member presenting the evening. After the event, she opened up to CU Staff Worker Naomi about how whenever she hears about Jesus, she thinks of her flat mate. She said that their lived-out faith is softening her previously hostile view of Christians.
How you can pray
For the past few months, CUs have been preparing for this exciting, one-month window of opportunity – making plans, booking rooms and finding speakers for carol services, festive meals, even ginger-bread making sessions. They have considered what themes will resonate best with their campus, equipped members to have gospel conversations, and to invite friends to read the Bible.
Their universities will be listening, and they are excited to show them that Jesus is not intimidating like the churches they walk quickly past – but loving, warm and welcoming.
But for all the CUs preparation, and for all the opportunities there are, this work will be impossible without prayer.
So, will you make the most of this crucial moment yourselves and now pray for the CUs?
Thank you so much for your partnership with us in this. You can check out our list of carol service dates to help guide your prayers here.
Find more ways to pray and CUs to pray for in our fortnightly prayer emails here.
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