Just like North Africa?

Tomorrow I’m giving sessions for new UCCF staff workers on how CU small groups can be part of a CU’s mission strategy.

My love for CU small groups dates back more than a decade. I remember being cornered at a CU world mission night when I was a Fresher at university. I got talking to one of the mission representatives and described life as a first year undergraduate, living in a hall of residence.  I’ve never forgotten what he said.

“You’re a bit like a missionary in a North African country.”

I remember thinking, “No – I’m nothing like a missionary in a North African country! I’m a first year geography student in Bristol!”

The mission rep could probably tell from my facial expression that I was confused and so he went on: “It’s impossible to get missionaries into some countries in North Africa. We resource the believers who are already there. They’re the ones who have to be salt and light. That’s the same for you in your hall of residence.”

He hit the nail on the head. Local churches and mission agencies cannot gain access to many areas of our universities. As security steps up, it seems you need a code for every different corridor within some university buildings! Yet there are missionaries who are already there: Christian students.

More than 400,000 full-time undergraduates – over 25% from overseas – head to UK universities each autumn. Many will live in communities that render them inaccessible and unreachable during their time at university. Unless, that is, Christian students reach them with the gospel.

CUs are missional communities on campus. And CU small groups play a significant part in reaching the campus with the good news of the gospel. Through loving one another, sharing their lives with others and passing on the gospel, CU small groups function as ‘mini mission teams’ or ‘incarnational communities’ within the university.

Christians living in a hall of residence or college, for example, can engage those living around them much more powerfully together, united in a CU small group as members of different local churches. CU small groups have better (and, in many cases, unique) access and are able to demonstrate the love of Christ by being a community of love in a hall or college. Indeed, without the CU small group many halls and colleges would be left without any corporate witness. In a hall of residence or college, t’s hard to think of a more natural expression of ‘incarnational mission’ than a CU small group. Students can genuinely can share lives as they share the gospel – working, resting and eating alongside their mates.

I plan to share some different ideas of what’s possible through CU small groups in occasional posts over the next few weeks.

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