The Challenges, and Joys, of Change

by EU Graduates Fund

As we’ve launched into on-campus ministry with the commencement of Semester 1, there are undeniable benefits of being in person, sharing fellowship that isn’t mediated through the zoom screen. Students are inviting friends into EU community where they feel genuinely welcomed and known, and people who were previously hesitant to get involved have really leapt at the chance for in-person gatherings.

This year, we’re meeting together in new communities comprising groups of our usual faculties for public Bible teaching, small group Bible studies, and training, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. While most students find themselves with significantly fewer face-to-face contact hours and so sharing common times in more dispersed faculties proves difficult, these regional groupings make the most of the fact that we can now meet on campus again, and are seeking to manage COVID-related restrictions on activities. Across ‘EU STEM’, ‘EU Health’ and ‘EU Humanities’, we’re actually seeing thriving communities grow, which are attracting newcomers and helping people find a place to belong. Our specialty ministries of EU Postgrads and Staff (EPS), FOCUS (reaching out amongst international students) and the EU meeting at the Conservatorium of Music (geographically separated from main campus) continue in their more custom-fit ministries to those sections of the university community.

There are challenges accompanying this change. Firstly, student leaders and staff have to re-envisage which particular community they seek to pastor, lead, train and teach. Secondly, when student culture overall continues to see a decline in student participation and presence, and with heightened caution towards ‘unnecessary’ gatherings and interactions, we have to ask afresh what creative, bold and loving evangelism that is directed to the university community looks like. Thirdly, staff have to wisely steward our resources as we need to run some ministry gatherings more often, to work around limitations on gathering sizes (hitting a record of 11 public Bible teaching gatherings each week!). In an altered context, working in a new mode, it’s an exciting season to keep growing as innovative ministry strategists – while God keeps opening up new opportunities.

In an altered context, working in a new mode, it’s an exciting season to keep growing as innovative ministry strategists – while God keeps opening up new opportunities.

We’re finding real joy in this new mode as well. Across the EU we are running 2 hour long blocks for small group Bible studies in the mornings. This is allowing more time for in-depth discussion around God’s word, as well as space to share far more personally in reflection on scripture and in prayer for one another. Not to mention the treasured coffee run to kick off the day! As I’ve worked with the leaders of these small group Bible studies over these first few weeks, there has been a strong consensus that this greater time is a great blessing, and they are seizing this as real opportunity for richer ministry moments. A common lunch hour has enabled the chance for building and extending social connections, and inviting friends to get involved – something many of us have been craving after spending 2020 online.

We will keep learning and refining this mode for ministry and outreach on campus as the year unfolds, but continue to be full of thanks to God for these opportunities, praying we steward every opportunity for His glory.


Laura Southam

Senior Staff

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