Moving to a new city to study is daunting for everyone and as a Christian on the look out for a church it can be extra confusing.
UCCF, the Christian Unions have put together some helpful stuff on why looking for a local church is important and Liverpool Uni Christian Union have a helpful church directory to help you see what’s out there.
Take a look at both those things but before you do here are 3 things to keep in mind…
1. Find a church that will know you as you not just as a student
Students hunt in packs; at freshers fairs, clubs, hall dinners, and even with church – so that students go to the church where students go, wherever that happens to be in a given year. You can see why it happens and it’s not all bad, but when it comes to church it can be risky. Not only because church is one of the rare times in your week that you’ll get to mix with non-students but also church at it’s very heart is about knowing people and being known by them, so that people miss you when you’re not there, make a point of encouraging you when you’re struggling, eat with you, and enjoy the benefits of your concern for them too. So wherever you go, make sure you’re known for who you are not simply for the fact you’re studying.
2. Find a church that will love you enough to teach you the Bible properly
Ever noticed how much of the New Testament is spent warning people about false teaching? Ever noticed that the Devil tried to entice Jesus to sin by quoting the Bible at him? And even when things aren’t that bad ever wondered why Paul pulls a literary (and theological) gun to his friend Timothy’s head and tells him to preach and teach the Bible and not just try to be popular? You see the sobering fact is that not all teaching is good teaching and not all churches or leaders will teach as much or as well as they should. Often we chose a church by the peripheries such as the style of music, the quality of the cakes, the comfiness of the chairs or even, shockingly, the spouse finding potential! But all of that is to overlook that what we most need is to be fed a balanced diet of well thought out, clearly from the passage, no holes barred or issues ducked, Bible teaching. Find a church like that, stay there, take your Bible and buy a notebook and watch your life change beyond all recognition.
3. Find a place to give not just take
When you’re choosing a student bank you want to chose the bank with the best deal for new students, the best cash offer, the biggest overdraft, the nicest pen and wallet combination. The same thinking however does not apply to church because the best bits about church are experienced not when you go for what you get but when you go for the sake of others. So if you go to a church and they only ever tell you what they’ll do for you don’t get excited, get worried because that’s not the kind of church in which you’ll flourish. Look for a church in which you can serve – and when it comes to that remember that serving in church is primarily about belonging, turning up and showing concern and love for the church family not just joining a rota to give out Bourbon biscuits at the end of a service.