A little while ago I wrote of how CU small groups are ‘just like North Africa’ in the way in which they provide a corporate witness where otherwise there might be none.
As I often say to students, corporate witness should not be under-estimated. Whilst rightly Christians often place a premium upon individuals witnessing to individuals, the Biblical pattern is more commonly Christians witnessing together. There are only five occasions in the New Testament when someone is sharing the gospel alone, compared to dozens where Christians are witnessing together. A helpful question is not just ‘who am I witnessing to?’ but also ‘who am I witnessing with?’
Of course, this principle applies to wider witness than just verbal evangelism. It’s also possible for Christians to minister to the felt needs they see around them together too, and to achieve things that they never could have done by themselves.
How might this apply for a CU small group made up of students from different local churches?
Firstly, there needs to be an attitude of heart in the small group to be a blessing to others. Many of the real needs of students are hidden – including loneliness, concerns about work, and family problems. Christian students sitting with friends, listening and cooking meals when they are needed are acts of kindness that speak about the kindness of God in the gospel.
Sometimes a CU small group can be a blessing on an organised and corporate level. Thinking about this will require the small group to think about the needs around them:
- What are the needs those in our university community feel? Asking this question moves CU small groups away from superficial ‘needs’, like washing up to be done, and onto genuine needs in those they live amongst.
- What gifts do the members of our small group possess that might be a blessing to the wider community? This question helps isolate which particular needs the CU small group might meet.
What meeting these needs might look like will vary in different settings. Examples of a CU small group acting together to be a blessing to their community include:
- Volunteering to help organise and run events in hall or college during Freshers’ Week;
- Proactively including those who are socially marginalised in their hall into the social life of the small group;
- Putting on a new year party to invite international students to;
- Organising a chill-out room during a hall or college ball;
- Volunteering to be part of the clear-up operation after the college or hall ball;
- Putting on a weekly toastie bar to chat to people coming back after a night out;
- Asking hall or college authorities if there’s any way that they can provide practical help in some way.
I once remember a beautiful way in which one CU small group made a massive difference in blessing one individual. The individual in question struggled socially – in hindsight I guess she might have had depression. One member of the CU small group in her hall discovered that the girl in question’s birthday was coming up soon. She’d never have dreamt of arranging a birthday party for herself – and so the CU small group took it upon themselves together to put on a surprise party. Each CU member took on a different area of responsibility and they invited all of the girl’s friends and those who lived on her corridor.
I remember hearing about when she walked into the room of where the party was held. She burst into tears of joy and thankfulness. Within two months she’d started evangelistic Bible studies and within six she was professing as a Christian.
Just a little example of how Christians in hall are ‘better together’, and how gospel generosity points to the generosity of Jesus.