Welcoming and gathering in semester 2

by Karen Sowden

Each year, the university puts on a one-day orientation day called Re-O day in Semester 2 to cater for the mid-year student intakes. The majority of these seem to be International students, as this lines up better with the northern hemisphere student calendar which starts mid year. Post-Ancon fatigue and the sharing of bugs from communal living doesn’t usually make for a glorious re-O day, and this year was no different. Unfortunately we even missed out on having an EU stall, organised by the Union, where interested students can connect with the EU.

This got me thinking about the different between this type of connecting and gathering. Connecting suits keen Christians who will take initiative to connect with other Christians. However, gathering is much more proactive and relational. Gathering is making something happen out of nothing about inviting people to a non-threatening place in which Jesus can be introduced. It’s not a science but a relational skill that allows the gospel to go out to new hearts and minds. It’s the hard stuff!

So for re-O day 2017, we had to quickly come up with a plan B. While we didn’t connect with many Christian students, we spent time gathering. We send students out to talk with people in the common areas, handing out lollies, letting them know who we were and inviting them along to our activities. The other thing is that gathering doesn’t just happen on one day, but continues to happen as we talk to our friends, invite people along and provide safe places for people to explore the great love of our brother, priest, king, saviour Jesus.

As the local church seeks to reach the multiple cultures in it’s community, these gathering skills will be vital. We need church members who are confident, creative, flexible and can apply gospel truths to different lives and people. While we teach people how to teach the bible, we also need to teach them to gather unbelievers to hear it.

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