On my count eight Freshers’ Weeks have gone by since I was rocking up at Uni for the first time, complete with my Dad’s ‘retro-look’ duffle coat and other luxuries. It’s a unique time for students, and so it’s a key time for University Christian Unions. This prompted me to begin a five-part series on how to make the most of Freshers’ Week and beyond as a CU. Part 1 looked at being clear on your identity as a student mission team, whilst Part 2 focused on having a CU culture that helps students to love the local church. I’d love to hear your thoughts – do comment below, but first here’s Part 3.
3. Be all about the gospel of Jesus
Let me explain what I mean, because you’re probably reading that and thinking ‘well, duh, that’s kind of an obvious one’. After all, which Christian Union is going to actively decide to try and avoid ‘the gospel’. CU committees don’t sit down together and say ‘ok, so how can we keep well away from Jesus’. But hear me out, because although it may seem like a crazy thing to do, I reckon sometimes we can all do a pretty good job of moving the gospel off centre-stage.
A few weeks ago I was looking at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians with some friends, and I was hit by how stunningly clear Paul makes it that his ministry is all about presenting Jesus Christ. That is his message: 100% Jesus Christ; unrivalled in subject and unashamed in attitude. Have a read of this:
‘And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit…
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the trust we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God…
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’
– 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:1-2, 5-6
See why Paul has put all his confidence in the message of Jesus? Because it is this that is going to bring about genuine spiritual change. Paul’s not after an external polish-and-scrub job; he knows that it is as people behold the Lord Jesus that their hearts will be transformed. Why? Because it is only in the person of Jesus Christ that we see the glory of God. Only the gospel of Jesus has a glory that can transform stubborn hearts and wills. And why would you settle for anything else in your message other than the staggering glory of God?
But how does this compare to where we’re at? Here’s a starter question to get you thinking: How many CU meetings do you think you’ve attended, whether evangelistic or those aimed at Christians, where Jesus and his works have hardly been mentioned? Have a ponder…
Maybe your instant reaction to that question is to assume you’re in the clear. But reconsider for just a moment, and mull on these: What is it you think your CU meetings really need for them to be effective? Or what do you long for your CU speakers to talk about? How do you expect unbelievers to encounter God this year? Sure, it’ll all be down to God, but through what means? What will people hear when they turn up to your events? And what are you spending all your time as a CU committee discussing and planning for? What do you think returning Christian students really need? And finally, to get a bit personal, where does your own confidence lie when it comes to yourself and your spiritual growth?