University brings a big change from school and college. Students have to be a lot more organised and independent. I’ve just started university at Reading and before I came I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a church to settle into. While having to concentrate on studies and other commitments, I wondered whether I could even find a church at a convenient time.
Before coming to university, I was recommended an app called Student Linkup. The app allows you to view churches near to where you’re studying and gives an idea of what they’re like. Student Linkup also allows you to communicate with some of the Student team leaders at the church too, so you can get an idea for what sorts of things the church does. Many of the churches were holding events to welcome any new students to the church (often offering free food as well).
These events allow you to meet a lot of people in the same position and get an idea of what the church is like. This might help you to narrow down a few churches and create a shortlist of a few. However these events aren’t always the best way to see the church – you might enjoy the special event, but not all services are in this style. So it’s worth visiting the church for a standard Sunday morning service as well.
Some churches have extra services in the evening for students to attend, as it’s not always possible (or desirable!) to make it to Sunday morning services. All of this information is either available on the app or if not, the app often links to the church website for more information.
What to look for?
When looking for a church I tried to list all the things which were important to me. For me, a large part of church is the worship as it helps me connect with God. So when looking at churches, I knew if I didn’t engage with the worship then I was a lot more limited on what I would get from Sunday services. Many people prefer different aspects of church, such as:
- Large/Small Student population
- Morning/Evening services
- Bible focused
- Community outreach opportunities
All of these different things can really affect the atmosphere of a church and whether or not you’ll enjoy it there. It’s important to find a church that you’re comfortable in and push deeper with God.
At university it can be hard to keep yourself focused. There are so many things that distract us from God and often it can seem hard to find the time. I haven’t found it easy to stay focused on God, but church is a way to bring it all back into perspective and give you time to reflect. University life often gets consumed by all the studying, lectures, meal planning and maybe drinking, but this shouldn’t take you away from God.
There are many ways to make it easier for yourself to keep focused. Keeping to a regular routine can help if you are struggling to find the time to pray or meet with God – this could be anything from waking up slightly earlier, to praying on the way between lectures, or reading a section of the Bible each day. By keeping things regular it gives you a better chance of remembering and keeping in touch with God.
Probably the most important thing to bear in mind when pursuing God at university is to find a good church community. Finding a church that you feel comfortable at is really important in helping you to keep pushing forward with God. Personally, having a community of people I feel comfortable talking about my faith with can really help, as I know I don’t have all the answers. University can be really stressful at times but God is with you. You can do this!