A Shared Vision for the Student World

Increasing numbers of young people are enrolling in universities every year. No longer just for the elite few, the government aims to have 50% of young people in higher education by 2010. There are currently more than 2.3 million students in the UK. Some youth workers suggest that up to 50% of Christian young people fail to get involved with any form of Christian activity at university.

University represents a whole new world of challenges and opportunities. It’s a culture shock to many 18 year olds as they are plunged into the hedonistic world of fresher’s week, given a free condom and encouraged to drink heavily before being accepted on the sports team.

Youth and student workers can experience the temptation to wrap young people in cotton wool, praying that they emerge from their higher education relatively unscathed. However, our universities represent one of the largest unreached people groups in the UK.

Fusion was established nearly 12 years ago as a response to a shared vision across the body of Christ to address the challenges of a changing student world. We aim to multiply student mission, discipleship and leadership through:

  1. Resourcing students to effectively evangelise their friends
  2. Empowering local churches to disciple, train and reach students
  3. Connecting and integrating new students to student-friendly churches
  4. Training student workers to see church based student ministry thrive

“I felt at home straight away. I’ve been part of the church for over a year and now I help lead a student cell group”

We believe that getting the most out of the university years, spiritually and academically, requires preparation. Our Studentlinkup events and resources are a way of helping our young people to achieve that. These events are designed to help school leavers get a picture of what student life looks like, grasp some of the opportunities and challenges they may face, leave equipped to continue the journey of discipleship that you have helped them on so far and connect with a student friendly church near to their university.

A first year student shares his experience:

“I signed up for Studentlinkup at Soul Survivor last year. I met about a dozen people going to Loughborough University. In August a local church sent me an information pack about churches in the area. When I got to Loughborough, some guys from the church got in contact and asked me if I wanted to meet up and have a cup of tea and a chat. I felt a bit alone and out on a limb but having those guys ring me up made me feel at home straight away. I’ve been part of the church for over a year and now I help lead a student cell.”

“The vision is to embody Jesus’ love”

‘Loveyouruni’ was launched as a campaign in 2007 and has become a mission emphasis, embraced by many local churches and students for their university outreach. Easy to recognise and understand by Christians and non-Christians alike, students and churches have been expressing Jesus’ love with passion and diversity. ‘Loveyouruni’ activities have taken many forms, from finding ways to use new resources to open scripture to friends, serving the emotional and spiritual needs of student clubbers, carrying bags for freshers in the first week of term and praying for healing on campuses.

Loveyouruni has inspired a number of churches to carry out ‘water drops’, handing out free water to students leaving nightclubs and student unions. The following is a testimony from a student who encountered one such initiative called ‘Nerve’.

“Nerve - I still don’t completely understand what it is but I know that if I hadn’t met Corinne who was working with Nerve giving out bottles of water to students after their night out outside our student union, and, if she hadn’t taken the time to explain to me what she was doing and actively invite me and welcome me into her life and the life of the church, then I’m not sure that I would now be involved with a church and engrossed in the learning and love of Jesus that I now know.”

‘Loveyouruni’ is also helping students to build relationships with student unions. Paul is one the students heading up a project with his student union called ‘Club Mission’:

“If you haven’t been, Loughborough Student Union building is basically a massive nightclub. It hosts a number of big gigs every year as well as huge student nights multiple times during the week. Last year, club mission was so well received it’s become an official part of the student union, working alongside the security staff. We’ve also been given a room to chat to people, another one to pray in as well as having a mobile prayer team walking around the venue. The vision of Club Mission is to help students who are on nights out in the student union in any way they can, embodying Jesus love”

“The Loveyouruni tour is a celebration of Christian unity and an experience of fresh and innovative mission among students”

Over 2009 and 2010, we are planning to travel to between twenty and thirty universities cities around the UK on a ‘Loveyouruni’ tour. Working with local churches, student groups and other organisations, we want to inspire and equip students across the country to have renewed confidence in the gospel and be stirred into action. Just as there is no one way to ‘do’ student mission, the needs and desires between locations may be very different. We’re not proposing a generic ‘event’ or ‘road-show’ so we’ve come up with a menu of possibilities. We aim to work in partnership with local churches to deliver an experience which serves the church and the students.

The tour has 3 main objectives:

  1. Provide a fun, real student mission experience demonstrating and resourcing a number of sustainable, low budget mission initiatives.
  2. Impart fresh confidence with a celebration event, building confidence in the Gospel, encouraging engagement, sharing stories and vision.
  3. Ignite an ideas explosion with forums and training, sharing ideas and releasing greater creativity, ownership and innovation for student mission.

Universities represent one of the largest unreached people groups in the UK. Our young people can be missionaries in this environment and it is the church’s duty and honour to support and pray for them in this. If you would like more information about Fusion, Studentlinkup and ‘Loveyouruni’ please contact james@fusion.uk.com.

James Hewitt has recently graduated from Loughborough University and has squeezed into his 24 years several2 years in France as a professional cyclist, presenting on cycling.tv and various journalism jobs. He has turned down a well paid graduate job in order to pursue a calling and passion with Fusion to develop and promote student mission through churches and with students.