I reckon if you had a machine that could record every question ever asked then ‘what’s your name?’, ‘where are you from?’ and ‘what are you studying?’ would seriously spike in September each year. They are the three big questions you get asked countless times at Freshers’ Week; in fact I remember one guy got so bored he wrote his answers down on a badge so he could just keep pointing to that. Of course Durham University freshers also have an extra question: ‘Which college did you apply for at Oxbridge?’, but the less said about that the better.
Repetitive questions aside, Freshers’ Week is also a key time of activity for university Christian Unions across the nation. Over the last month I’ve been putting together a little series of posts on how CU’s can make the most of these first few weeks of the new year. You can check out Part 1 on staying focused on what a CU is for, Part 2 on loving the local church, and Part 3 on being all about Jesus.
If you’re part of a Christian Union, then you’ll know there are certain things that just seem to be part and parcel of CU life: for example, you have prayer meetings; you put on evangelistic events, maybe lunchbars; you probably run an annual weekend-away/houseparty; maybe you have a hoodie. But it’s very easy, in the bustle and routine of CU culture, to never really get round to considering your own personal evangelism.
Yes, you can recite to anyone interested what a CU is all about, you can give a really jazzy summary of the gospel, you’ve heard the talks and made the notes, you’re even wearing the hoodie, your life involves going from one CU event to the next. But as we do all of that, we may well have lost sight of what it’s all for. We might be caring more about all that than the actual nitty-gritty of sharing the gospel with those around us. I write that knowing how easy it is to make that mistake. I remember planning a evangelistic event for the CU, when it suddenly dawned on me that I’d buried myself in organisation for the last few months and hadn’t spent any time with my friends for whom this event could have been an excellent opportunity.
And so part 4 is an encouragement to re-evaluate your own part of the mission-team. How’s your evangelism going?
Now, it’s easy for that kinda question to evoke feelings of guilt, and guilt-induced evangelism – where you’re doing it simply because you’ve been told to – is never a healthy thing. I think there’s probably four motivations that the New Testament gives for evangelism: a desire to obey Jesus’ call to make his disciples, a concern for Jesus’ glory that longs for people to turn to him and recognise him as King, a heart-broken love for the lost who are without Christ, and as a personal response to grace we’ve been shown (think of any others?). You’ll notice that none of those include ‘doing it because Joe Bloggs told me to and so I better had because I don’t want to look bad’.