Why Churches Should Engage With Student Ministry
Michael Shaw is a newly accredited Baptist Minister at Devonport Baptist Church in Plymouth. He tells Pippa Elmes from Fusion about why he's engaged his last three churches with student ministry and mission.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, I am married to Katie with a dog called Bertie. I am passionate about seeing people becoming part of the Kingdom of God and love the fact that God has chosen to do that through the Church. I am slightly obsessed with all things cricket-related, but also love rugby and golf and have recently discovered a love for body-boarding.
What's the best thing about being a Baptist minister?
Ministry is not always easy, but I love people, and ministry is all about people, warts and all. You have so many privileges being employed as a minister, but my role is to equip others and I love seeing people in the church develop in their giftings, both in the church, in their streets and in their work places.
Why have your last three churches all been Fusion Connection Churches?
Because I see the value in getting students engaged in church. I know many students - including myself - who did not engage in church and saw how that impacted their walk. The problem is that too often students have a limited number of churches to chose from, and they often look and act the same. It is good to give students the option to find churches that are off the beaten track and outside the student bubble that may appeal to them.
What three words would you use to describe university students?
Open - to adventure and new possibilities? Enthusiastic - fresh ideas and drive - it is infectious!
Vulnerable - University is full of good things and bad things, sometimes it is hard to know where to draw the line.
Why is the relationship between the local church and students important?
Jesus left a group of believers who gathered together and in the gathering the Spirit moved. Without that gathering we become either lost or confused, Jesus left a community not a set of individuals. However, that does not mean that all churches should look and feel the same. The locality dictates what the church looks like, which is why we need local churches that understand the people around them and provide "services" that reflect the needs of those people. The church is a diverse place, and needs old and young, and students are a valuable part of that mix.
Why is it important to prepare young people for university? Although university is an exciting place to be, it is also a dangerous place. We put so much effort into youth work, but often those young people can find university a real test to their faith. There needs to be an element of youth work that looks long term, and enables young people to be aware of the opportunities and challenges that life offers, not just at university but in the world of work and in travel too.
What's your favourite pie? I lived in Bristol for six years, so I would have to say any pie made by Pieminister are awesome, but I am now down in Plymouth so am getting the opportunity to find some very good pasties as well.
Fusion connect students to churches and churches to students. If you know young people going to university this year, why not send them to studentlinkup.org where they'll be connected to churches in their new uni towns.
If your church is near a university why not join the Fusion Church Connection?
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