“Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other, which will bring glory to God.” – Romans 15:7
Today I was at Forum NE+ in Leeds. I’d never been to one of these events before (mostly as I was only a part of a college group in CU and never really went to any of the main meetings, and as such didn’t really feel the need). However, since I’ve got more involved in the main meetings and other CU-related happenings I’ve felt like I should be a little more proactive in what I do. I don’t want to simply be. I want to share God’s love around campus and CU helps me to do that.
The theme of the day was welcome. How God welcomes us, and how we can welcome freshers in the Autumn. Then I participated in a workshop on hospitality, where we looked at how we can show hospitality and effectively communicate the Gospel.
Welcome is incredibly important. When I first came to university, I knew what church I wanted to go to. Having said that, it was important that I felt welcomed and part of the community; I did not want to simply be an outsider. If that didn’t happen, I would have moved on. But despite being a small church, it was a welcoming church. People were friendly, and people talked to me. Whilst the service was a little more formal than I was used to, I did not feel like an outsider. And a few weeks later I very definitely belonged.
I would love for next year’s freshers to have the same experience. I would love for them to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of love, and a welcome that not only invites them into a church (or indeed the CU) but convinces them to stay. Christ welcomed us, and as such we should welcome others. In our case, this particularly means the many freshers arriving at our college and university in September.
Hospitality plays an important part in welcome. If we simply spread the Gospel without hospitality, much of the message is lost and we are not seen as kind, loving and welcoming people. Instead we would probably be seen as Bible-verse-memorising lunatics. A major challenge to me will be my openness; I am usually pretty shy! However, I have been given the opportunity to be a Day STYC for my college; this means I’ll have to get out and talk to people. And that gives me a great opportunity to spread and demonstrate the Gospel. After all, we are told in Thessalonians to share not only the Gospel, but our lives.
Through demonstrating this hospitality and showing our care and love for the freshers right at the beginning of their time at university, they will hopefully come to see everything that the CU stands for – not only in a theoretical way but also in a practical way. I hope that they feel welcomed, that they belong, and that they are all loved by both us and Christ.