The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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How to prepare freshers for the jump to uni

With 100 metres remaining, the crowd got louder still.

The runners asked their weary bodies to find yet another gear, but one man had more than the rest.

As Mo Farah pulled away from the field in the 10,000m Olympic final, he galloped to his first of two gold medals at London 2012 and certain immortality in the British sporting consciousness.

Employing his iconic ‘Mobot’ as he crossed the line, it felt as if the eyes of the nation were glued to this magnificent athlete in his moment of glory.

There’s an awful lot we didn’t see, however.

In order to get to the starting line – let alone the finishing line – Farah had prepared meticulously. International training camps, gruelling high altitude sessions, obscure competitions in forgotten corners of the globe – all making sure that he would be as well prepared as he possibly could be for his homecoming in the long, hot summer of 2012.[1]

Preparation makes the difference

For the young people in our families and churches who are about to start university, we must ask ‘how prepared are they?’.

It’s possible their school or college has taken the time to prepare them in some way for the transition between mainstream and higher education, but have they thought about how the move away from home will impact their faith?

University life exposes young people to countless new opportunities. What role will church play in that? How will they be equipped to connect their faith with all those new experiences – so they can thrive as disciples who make a difference in and through their studies, friendships, and societies?

When they’re no longer going to church as an extension of their parents, will Christian community continue to be part of their lives? If our students are going to continue going to church at university – and, more importantly, continue to be discipled for their new setting – how best can we prepare them?

The spiritual equivalent of Mo Farah’s high-altitude training can help our students arrive at their halls of residence ready to enjoy the vast wealth of opportunities afforded to them at university, including finding a local church that will help them integrate their faith with the rest of their life.

Community is a strong foundation

In Scripture, we see how young people thrive within a community.

The story of Samuel reveals the young man to be embedded in the life of the temple. As the story draws on in the opening chapters of 1 Samuel, the writer continually refers to Samuel’s development.

And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with people.

1 SAMUEL 2:26

This is a great thing to pray for our young people who are heading off to university in September. That they may continue to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with their peers. My heart sings whenever I hear tales of students authentically and boldly witnessing Jesus Christ in the words they speak, the way they live, and the work they make. With good preparation, the young people in your church could do this too.

We must take heed of the example of Samuel. The local church is ready to welcome university students and provide the space needed for spiritual growth and maturation. Time spent gathered together is key to living effectively for Christ when we’re scattered out in his world.

One way would-be students can start looking for a church before they make the move away from home is using Fusion’s Student Linkup app. Entering their university location, they can explore nearby churches using the interactive map feature. They can also start messaging churches and communicating with local student workers and church leaders.

Don’t just wave: do something!

Just as churches have a responsibility to welcome students at university, so too churches, families, and friends have a responsibility to prepare young people who are moving away. It isn’t enough to wave goodbye and hope for the best: we have an opportunity to prepare our 18- and 19-year-olds both practically and spiritually.

Here are three things you can do to prepare your school or college leavers for university:

  • Give them a Student Linkup Box – filled with resources that will enable students to start conversations with youth leaders, church leaders, or their mates about the start of university.
  • Work through the Launched group resource with them – designed to give students the understanding, tools, and confidence to live for Christ in every area of uni life. Because in the tough decisions, last-minute essays, and early lectures, God is at work.
  • Pray for your students in a Sunday service – however you pray on a Sunday, draw attention to the fact that your young people are going to university. Celebrate it, and then pray!

And, ultimately, as our young people venture off, we know that they go in the hands of the One who made them.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.

PSALM 138:7


Sam Brown, Student Mission Developer, Fusion Movement. ​​

Sam had his life transformed by stepping into a leadership role at his church in his final year of university. He is committed to helping churches raise up other student leaders to share the transformational power of Jesus Christ.



[1] Not only that, but we now know that Farah was trafficked to the UK as a young child, made to do housework and childcare for his food, and kept out of school until he was 11. The very name that became a global brand was forced upon him: he was born Hussein Abdi Kahin.


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