The comments of a university student committed to God.

Category Archives: God and Faith

Welcome to my series about starting uni as a Christian, if you haven’t already, check out part one where we establish whether we actually want to do this living-for-Jesus-thing.

At the end of the last post I possibly left you feeling like you were going to be on your own at uni (apart from God) which certainly isn’t true (and although God is enough, ground support is a real help). The two main sets of people will be a Christian student group and a church. And there is a way to start linking up with both of these before you get to university!

First, go to www.uccf.org.uk/starting-uni/link-up and link up with the Christian Union (CU) at your uni. I love my CU, it’s where I’ve met the people I would now call my best friends, where I can find support from my fellow Christian students, especially those older ones that been there and done it (and are still going through it). It’s also a great way to be actively spreading the Gospel at uni through evangelistic events and support with your personal evangelism. You’ll get an email from someone at the CU telling you what they do, specifically what’s happening in freshers’ week. UCCF (Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, they support and encourage CUs throughout the country) will also send you a “Starting Uni” version of their great little Uncover gospels. This version is new this year so I don’t know exactly what’s in it but Uncover is an attractive Luke’s Gospel that we use to explore Jesus’ story with other students, so it’s worth seeing it, getting to know Luke a little better and taking advantage of whatever has been added to it for this edition.

Second go to www.fusion.uk.com/connect-with-fusion/student-linkup and sign up with Fusion Student Linkup. This will give your contact details to all the churches in your uni city (that have signed up with them). They will contact you telling you about themselves and what they do for students (note they will come sporadically over summer and into freshers’ week-time). Please don’t make a decision on which church you’re going to be at based on this information but use it to get a feel of where to try (I tried an apparently record-breaking seven churches and I nowhere near got to see all of them in town, so this should help narrow them down before you start).

You may think that you only need to be a part of CU at university and don’t need a church or if you don’t think it now, you may do when you get there. I would say don’t fall into this trap. CU can be brilliant, support your student life well and be a great platform for you to be a part of spreading the Gospel at uni. But it’s not a church.

Mike Reeves, the (soon to be ex-) Head of Theology at UCCF wrote about the CU and church and why they’re not the same but CUs still have an important place. Here are his points about why CU is not a church:

“First: a CU cannot function as a church in the manner in which Paul and the apostles wanted churches to function because it does not have an appointed ministry of word, sacrament and discipline, and must not pretend to.

Secondly: a CU cannot function as a church because, for all the warmth and closeness of fellowship that can be experienced within a CU, it does not have the communal characteristics of a family that the Bible assumes.

Thirdly: a CU cannot function as a church is because it is a specialised ministry that is seeking to target only one mission field. It has a clearly limited missionary objective: students. In no sense does it have the ambition to function as the heterogeneous body that Paul describes in Ephesians 2.”

Essentially a CU doesn’t appoint its leaders based on their ability to teach, unlike a church; there isn’t the same community and family aspect like a church has; and a CU has a very specific mission, whereas a church is to minister to all. You can read the full document here. There is a lot of useful theological, biblical and historical research in there but for those not familiar with examining theology it may be a bit heavy. These points are on page 10/11.

Unfortunately I have heard some not so great stories about some CUs. One common claim is they are very insular and members spend their time with each other and not non-Christians. If you feel the CU is encouraging this, it is a problem and maybe a point that should be raised with the leadership. Whether or not it’s condoned, make sure you spend time with your coursemates/hall-mates and go against the trend. What the CU does by the way of evangelistic events are for you to bring your friends to – why would they care if you’ve spent no time with them?

Some universities will have multiple Christian student groups. And while I’m sure UCCF would love me to say the CU is always the way to go, it may not be. See what they’re each up to and what truths they hold. What’s important is that they affirm the Gospel and that Jesus Christ is central to what the CU does, and they are active in evangelising. UCCF’s doctrinal basis is a good guide to what a Christian group should be professing.

This discussion could go on but I feel I’ll be making more and more insignificant points so just comment or email if you want to know any more about the nitty-gritty of student groups and CUs.

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Sorry I’ve been quiet so long, for a while I’ve had excuses for not writing a post but recently it’s just a lack of concentration and determination to sit down and do it, but here goes.

I’m a Christian and this year I started university. All year I’ve been discovering that doing this isn’t as straightforward as just turning up and going with the flow. So I am humbly going to put some pointers and hints down for all of you who are in the position I was a year ago. Don’t take everything I say to the letter, it’s based on my experience and obviously different universities will also have slightly different circumstances. If you’re not in the UK you may find this useful but just be aware that I am and things may work differently where you are. Oh and please ask me questions!

So I’m splitting this into a few posts and the first couple are about before you even get to uni, what to think about and what to do.

Right, so you’ve just finished your A-Level exams and you’re starting to enjoy your summer, pretending you’re not just waiting for your results. Now I know that you may be panicking about your results and I’m not going to tell you that you’ve done fine because honestly, I don’t know! But I will say that there’s no point letting them overshadow your summer and preparing for university. Although if you’ve handed in your BTEC coursework or you’re just finishing up your year out or… [insert activity here] then I guess you’re not worrying which is lovely for you!

There’s something you need to think about and consider before we go any further. And it’s actually pretty crucial.

Are you serious about living your life for Jesus?

You won’t have the safety net of your parents, your familiar church family, your youth group and your youth pastor/minister any more. I’m not saying these people will be deserting you or leaving you on your own but you won’t see them on a daily/weekly basis and it’s extremely easy to not keep in touch. I sincerely hope all of you reading this can say “yes” to that question above but you need to take the time to know that is your answer. Because when you get to university you need to be firm and sure of who you are and how you’re going to live. I don’t mean you need to have every detail sorted out but you need to know that you’re not going to live as the world does. We are called to be in the world, but not of it. We are to be salt and light that points to Christ. And it takes effort. And to put in effort you need to have motivation. And if motivation for living out your faith has come from people around until now you need to be ready for when they’re not any more.

If this applies to you, I’m not saying this to break you down but actually to build you up. When your relationship with God depends on Him rather than other people it is so much richer and frankly, amazing, than when you’re just being carried along. So please, take a look at you walk with God and see where it’s at right now. Make the conscious decision to follow Him regardless who else is in your life.

But hey, I’m not saying you’ve got to do this with no “ground support” at all, just the people providing it will change completely. In my next post I’ll tell you about who these people will be and how to start linking up with them now.


Sorry I’ve been behind with posts recently revision and exams have got in the way but here’s what I’ve found to be an amazing encouragement to me about God’s salvation for us. I think its a powerful illustration of what our relationship with God was, how it got damaged and how he took the step to save us from ourselves and our sin. I know its got around before but I’ve watched it many times and touches me every time. Feel free to share and comment/ask questions!
My last exam is on Thursday so should have a post out by this weekend. God Bless and enjoy the snow if you’re in the UK!


“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

Just think.

The God that created the universe, fashioned the stars.

He was willing to become a small, defenceless, vulnerable, weak and probably crying, baby.

He wasn’t born a magnificent palace as he deserved, but amongst the animals in a shed.

The first people to see him were shepherds – not exactly a King’s welcome.

He was to grow up and be perfect.

In his ministry he made lame, walk; the blind, see; the dead, come to life.

He came alongside the poor, the sick, the troubled, the rejected and the lowest of society.

He did not condemn them but showed them love.

Then these people, fuelled by the religious leaders of the time, demanded his perfect, sinless life be ended.

He was beaten, mocked and humiliated.

He given a crown. Of thorns.

He was nailed to a cross.

He suffered, slowly dying through suffocation.

And then this man, the Son of Man, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Christ, the Promised One, the Prince of Peace; breathed his last.

He was killed.

And in that moment the father in heaven could not look at him.

Because he took all our sin, what we have done, what we will do, upon himself.

And he died with it.

A perfect sacrifice.

A sacrifice so that we can be clean and sinless before God.

Because he loves us so unconditionally, more than we can even comprehend.

He could not bear to leave us in darkness to rot and die in our sin.

So he made a way.

That way started on Christmas Day, with a defenceless, vulnerable and weak, little baby.

I don’t know about you but when I think about this I just get excited. I want to laugh, I want to cry, I want to shout from the rooftops how amazing this is. But most of all, I can’t do anything else but love God back. So I devote my life to serving him.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17

This Christmas, if you’re a Christian, please don’t forget what you are celebrating; it’s just so incredible that letting everything getting on top of Christ is not worth it.

If you’re not a Christian, think on how incredible this news is! God is motivated by love and wants to meet with you and show it to you. He’s done all the work, he just wants to enter a relationship with you. Yes, huge powerful God wants to be in a relationship with you.

Merry Christmas to all and God bless you.


So last week I posted a reaction to Bristol CU’s decision over women speakers (they were slightly liberalising their previous policy of not allowing them at all to certain, limited setting). I came out in full defence of their decision, despite the fact I’m an egalitarian. Their “u-turn” to allow women speakers in all CU settings did actually make me happier (assuming they didn’t take it because of the pressure they were under). But I want to concede that I probably didn’t have the full insight into the situation and I was challenged by comments and other blogs I read. So I asked around a bit in my CU and found that although there is a large complementarian presence there, a lot of them wouldn’t have a problem with women speakers at CU because their beliefs mainly apply to leadership rather than preaching, and generally only in a church setting. So I was sort of wrong. I still hold to the principle of my argument though; I still think it is a valid decision for a CU to take if they feel that is the best way to retain unity. But I’m not perfect, by any stretch.

Today, I want to confess something I really struggle with, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Pride.

Okay first to say what I’m referring to and why it’s a problem. I take pride in my academic work. I put the effort in and I get good marks, great! This is fine, I think, as long as I don’t start boasting to others about it and put myself above other people because of it. But I know that this isn’t of eternal importance. When I serve God I know it is much more important than any of my personal achievements. But this service isn’t what gives me salvation. It’s when I think about the fact that there’s a God so huge and powerful who created the universe and everything in it. And that he cared about and loved me so much that he was willing to come to this earth as one of us and suffer and die in my place so that I could have a relationship and eternal life with him. I can’t do nothing. I have to live my life serving him.

All good so far, right?

Well, yes. Except in my head I have a habit listing all the things I do at church, at CU and other situations where I serve. I start hoping that this person or group of people noticed that I did this or start imagining conversations where people are saying how great I am because what I do. I wonder if I have done enough, for example, for the CU committee to think I’m suitable to be on committee next year. Will people be saying I’m a great example to others? Am I the most enthusiastic fresher? All these things swirl around my head. And I hate it. If I catch myself I have to think of something else to make it go away.

I hate it because it makes me worry about my motives. I know that I shouldn’t serve God in order to impress other people, to gain leadership positions or be famous in Christian circles. I believe (although sometimes I am really not sure) that this isn’t why I do it and it’s my sinful nature trying to make me proud and I’m weak to it.

Most people probably don’t know about this. I generally manage to keep it under wraps. There’s the occasional time I slip and say how my week is so busy because I’m doing so much at church and CU, then realising what I’ve done and try to laugh it off as some sort of joke. Then I leave worried that person thinks I have got my motives messed up, and think less of me, then I get all the thoughts going round my head again.

We all have our failings, this is one of many of mine.

There isn’t much of a conclusion I can give here but writing this down has helped, I know that I should continue serving God and rejecting sin but that will only work with God’s help. I hope that anyone who struggles with similar problems can now know that they’re not on their own. We all have our struggles with sin, whatever it is, admit to yourself it is an issue and ask God to work within you and help you fight it.

Thanks for reading 🙂


Feel the need to write a blog post about this in the light of Bristol CU’s (alleged) decision to ban women from speaking in their meetings, weekends or events. (HuffPost story here.) Last week I wrote about unity in the Church and how CUs were an amazing example to churches working across the denominational divide. Maybe after this you wouldn’t agree. But take a look and you’ll see I actually used the women teaching example to show how well it works. The CU at my university doesn’t have a ban per se (to my knowledge) but we haven’t had a woman come to speak to us at our meetings. The reason for this is that some Christians believe that males and females have different roles in the church. Before being specific anyone should be able to understand that this isn’t a ridiculous claim. Men and women are clearly different physiologically and are naturally better at certain things. Although I don’t agree, there is grounding from the Bible (namely Paul letters, in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12), that would say that these differences extend to leadership and preaching.

I believe that Christians who take this view have considered it carefully and have reached that decision with integrity. It certainly isn’t a view that is sexist and misogynistic. It is simply a belief that certain roles are suited to men and other to women. Women’s contribution is equally as valuable and important, simply different. EDIT: Although there certainly exists a minority who hold similar views but for sexist reasons. These people I am not defending and will not defend in the future.

So when you’ve got a large group of people from different denominations who believe different things on these issues that you want to keep united, this decision makes sense. Preventing women from preaching out of respect for those have taken that view, is a difficult yet courageous decision to make. Lets be clear, this isn’t the CU taking the view that women aren’t allowed to preach on principle, simply that it is the best way for the CU to run practically, respecting the views of all. The CU doesn’t (or shouldn’t) take a view on these types of  “secondary” issue. Many CUs do allow women to preach. Perhaps a ban is too strong and simply a convention would be more appropriate but this is detail in comparison to the actual issue here.

I hope this clarifies and explains some things. UCCF is the body that many CUs are affiliated with and get support from. Their policy has no restrictions on preachers based on sex – the only requirement is agreement with the Doctrinal Basis, which is a relatively broad set of beliefs based around the basic fundamental beliefs of Christianity.

All views are my own, I don’t claim to speak on behalf of any of the people or groups involved, I simply want to try to explain why this situation is why it is. All comments welcome.


You may have heard me mention it before but something that matters to me a lot is unity in the Church. In 1 Corinthians Paul says:

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

I think that it would be amazing if the church could be one body and there were no divisions at all. I believe, however, that the way the church has developed over time where I think it has gone in the wrong direction and had movements to bring it back and the smaller, less vital splits have meant that’s not possible. Fortunately I don’t think that’s what Paul was really thinking of either. What we need is churches looking for ways to understand each other, how their views are formed from the same book (i.e. the Bible) and that when someone is seeking to follow Christ in action, deed and word there should be unity with them. Some Christians I talk to find it strange that I defend the views of other Christians I (and usually they) don’t agree with. I then do my best to explain why that view is held with a kind of “so you can see where they’re coming from” conclusion. I think that it is vitally important that we understand the sources of each other’s convictions to enable us to see that they are very rarely incompatible with being a Jesus-loving Christian who believes the core values of our faith.

Last week I was talking to a couple of my fellow CU freshers and I don’t remember how it came up but one of them said that one of her flatmates had mentioned that she was a Catholic, something that she had no evidence of up until then. My friend didn’t know how to react as she knows that being christened doesn’t make you a Christian, and certainly just growing up in Catholic (or for that matter any Christian) family doesn’t either. Her reaction to hearing this wanted to be to challenge her and tell her she isn’t a Christian. I remember her saying that hearing someone saying that they’re a Christian through these means makes her angry. I talked about my Catholic family and how I feel they have been model Christians to me in my life even if I don’t agree with quite a few of their views. I suggest to anyone who feels similarly to her not to respond with irritation but to lovingly ask how their relationship with God is, what church they go to or what their faith means to them. Find out what they believe; understand why. At this point you can present your views and explain why you hold them. Do all of this lovingly and be interested! It’s okay to challenge their views in this way as long as you can back up your own, don’t expect to change their ideas and be ready for yours to be challenged. This doesn’t only apply Catholics but any other Christians who have differing views from you. How can we expect to interact with and challenge (and be challenged by) non-Christians’ views and values when we can’t do it with each other?

Once we can learn to understand and love each other despite our differences we can look towards unity. Like I said before I don’t mean a single church but I do mean Christians working across the divides to make Christ and his love known in this world. Since coming to university I have found that the Christian Union is incredible example to the church in this respect. I hope that other CUs are like mine and I’m lead to believe that many are but I’ve only got mine to draw examples from. There’s 200 of us from many different denominations. We go to different churches. We hold different views on the role of women, predestination, the best way to worship, how the Spirit moves, how communion should be taken and many, many more. And yet we are a united student mission team on campus.

We recently ran an events week where everyday we put on events which all included a talk, mostly on Christian apologetics. Our intention is to allow as many people on campus as possible to hear about Jesus. If we bring along our friends, we can follow-up with them ourselves and take them to our church. Some responded independently and were assigned people to follow-up with. We weren’t told which church to take them to – no one will say that we’re leading them the wrong way because new Christians should be in this denomination or the other.  Sometimes we will informally discuss the differences we have but it is always loving and with interest and not a way to pick holes in each others’ ideas. We are centred around the cross and the redemption it has given us. Centred around the belief that God so loved us He was willing to die so that we could enjoy life with Him. We think that that fact is so amazing it has to be told to as many as people as possible and our differences come second.

UCCF is an organisation which helps the CUs in the UK do this. A few ideas for this blog came from Dave Bish, the UCCF regional team leader for the South West, in his blog, although I had intentions to write this before I had read that. He talks about how CUs need to keep working in this way and how to do this. I’ve said a lot of this already so I won’t repeat myself, take a look at his blog for another angle. He draws attention to how the biggest point of contention in a CU is how the weekly meeting is run. This is hard because it does actually resemble a stripped down church service (it is not intended to be instead of a church service; a lot of emphasis is put on being part of a church as well as CU), which means there are a few points which could cause problems. At our CU I think we avoid at least some of these problems by not doing some things. There’s no opportunity for prophecy or for the Spirit to work and we don’t take communion. These things are left up to churches to “provide” if you like.

Something that I know is not consistent among CUs is that we don’t have women come in to do talks. Every week a guest speaker gives a talk which is either equipping us for evangelism or strengthening us. Every week a man gives this talk. When I first realised this was a rule (rather than coincidence with the speakers I had seen so far) there was a short time I was really disappointed. I am very supportive of women becoming preachers and being leaders in the church and that comes from a biblically based belief. Last week I talked about this in relation to the women bishops vote. I also talk about how I’ve come to recognise that other Christians completely value women’s contribution to the church and believe it is vital but their role is different from men and doesn’t include preaching. This view is also biblically based and isn’t sexist or misogynistic (check out this article on Threads). So if we accept that some Christians hold a valid view opposing women preachers, in a group of united Christians, not allowing women to preach makes sense. These people will feel that their view is respected and those in favour of them can’t actually have a problem seeing as their view isn’t that women have to preach. Of course the CU mustn’t actually make this policy a part of their stated beliefs; they must be broad and really only define core beliefs and values. (For all UCCF-affiliated CUs this is their Doctrinal Basis.)

This is one example of a possible problem and how it was avoided; out of love and respect for each other. Funnily enough churches working together generally wouldn’t come into nearly as many problems as they don’t need a weekly meeting where problems could arise, and yet we can still be terrible at interacting. There are great examples of times we do, however. Street pastors, foodbanks, Hope, inter-denominational conferences (Soul Survivor, Spring Harvest, etc), Alpha and many more. And yet we still like to argue and let our differences get in the way of personal relationships.

So if you’re a Christian and often find yourself wanting to argue with one of your brother or sisters in Christ, change it into a loving conversation and discuss. Challenge their ideas and allow them to challenge yours; if nothing else it’s good practice for when talking to non-Christians!

As usual this is much longer than originally intended – sorry about that! Please don’t let it stop you challenging me, asking questions and giving me your comments!