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Dear Christians in Sport,
I’m just about to start at university, I’m excited to start my course and join the tennis club, but it feels a bit scary leaving home and church, moving in with people I’ve never met and having to make more decisions for myself – have you got any advice for me as I start my first term?
Starting university is a really significant time in life and full of so many changes. It can be daunting, unpredictable and challenging. At the same time, university sport can be a place to flourish as you seek to worship God with your sporting gifts and abilities and find opportunities to share the good news of Jesus. So here’s six top tips to help you live out your faith as you start university:
Being plugged into a church family where you will be taught God's word faithfully is essential whilst at university.
If you’ve not started yet, why not make contact with a church even before arriving at university?
Listen to the advice of people you trust who know the area you’re moving to well and know what is important to look for in a university church, rather than making a decision for other reasons. So don’t just be lured in by the free meals!
Avoid church surfing for too long – take in the church scene and commit to one early.
Hint – Most CUs will do a ‘church search’ - online for now – find your university's CU and see what they’re doing.
You can quite literally reinvent yourself at university. Who do you want to be known as? What do you want to be known for?
Start the first few weeks calling yourself a Christian, living for Jesus, speaking about your Christian life then that’s how you will be known. This will be tough, but in the long run it's so much easier starting this way than fitting in with everyone and then trying to squeeze Jesus in a few months later. Ask God to help you start boldly and honestly and you'll be amazed at the opportunities that come.
Join a sports club and get involved early doors in whatever they have to offer. Stay in the lives of your new teammates. Be proactive in trying to spend time with them whether that is watching a film, eating together, going to the gym and of course training and playing together.
When, and if, you're able to play sport then appreciate that university often provides some of the best sporting experiences of your life. Coaches and club committees will want good commitment and attitude from the start so show how much you love your God-given gift of sport by being committed to training and the club from the off.
These often take place in the first few weeks of term and it is worth thinking about how to approach them ahead of time if you can.
In 1 Peter chapter 2, Peter calls the recipients of the letter, in light of their identity as God's set apart people, to live distinctively for God among those who don't believe, even when it's tough.
Think about what it might look like to live distinctively in an initiation, not getting drunk as it says in Ephesians 5:18, but living with self-control?
Initiations whilst intending to be fun and test commitment might prove a challenge. Ask God to help you approach them with good intentions. Why not visit the Christians in Sport academy for more resources to help you think through handling socials and initiations, you can find the student page at Christiansinsport.org.uk/students.
Jesus gives His followers this task in Matthew 28:18-20. New starts, quality time, meals, library sessions, open minds all get thrown into the ring of ‘university life’. However as you start to find your feet, you soon realise that your new stage of life actually provides you with one of the greatest opportunities to explain the good news of Jesus with people who might never have heard it before. So go for it, knowing that Jesus will be with us always!
Pray that you’ll remember your identity is firmly rooted in Jesus. Pray for opportunities to grow relationships with your teammates regardless whether you're able to be playing or not. And pray for opportunities to speak of Christ in a new environment.
Let us know if you’re starting at university this Autumn and we can help connect you up with your Christians in Sport group.
Photo used under Creative Commons from RO Photography.
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