This guest post is written by Sarah Pickett, UCCF Staff Worker in Oxford & Buckinghamshire. This is part of a series of blogs looking at friendship at this time, read more here Why the rule of six maybe good for friendship.
When I heard the news about the rule of six, my heart sank. I work with a large Christian Union (OICCU) and so almost all our normal activities were ruled out.
As I started to think through what ministry would look like for me, I wondered how I could make the most of meeting students in small groups. Before this term I rarely had students round for dinner; I live a twenty-minute cycle out of Oxford and students can barely be convinced to walk five minutes to an event, let alone leave the city centre!
As I started to think through what ministry would look like for me, I wondered how I could make the most of meeting students in small groups.Tweet
But with the limited chance for physical gatherings this year, I decided to buy a fire pit and see if I could convince students to come over for dinner and a book discussion around a fire. To my surprise, enough signed up that I was able to organise three groups to come and discuss Becky Pippert’s excellent new book, Stay Salt. They were a wonderfully diverse group of students: fourth years and freshers, mature Christians and new Christians, some of whom had never met each other before.
It was wonderful to be able to create a space that was warm, fun and hospitable when those things have been so lacking in universities. Becky’s book has been an excellent resource to use as a springboard to talk about evangelism. She helpfully addresses barriers to evangelism to which all of us could relate: our weakness, our finitude and our fear of rejection. The vulnerable, honest tone of the book helped us to share openly about what we find hard when we share Jesus with our friends.
As we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores, we chatted about how Jesus shared the gospel with people — how He didn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach but connected with the person in front of Him. And as students shared story after story about conversations they’d had so far that term, it was obvious that this is just as true and needed in our evangelism today. Some friends had fierce intellectual questions about Christianity, but many more seem to just not like Christianity. It’s wonderful to know that the gospel we share is good and true, and I loved hearing students discuss how they have tackled hard questions and tried to demonstrate both of those things in their evangelism.
We shared names of friends we would like to pray for as the fire died down and spent time lifting them up to our Father, knowing that He knows them already, loves them and longs for them to come to know Him far more than we do. And we prayed for courage to speak, confidence in the truth and beauty of the gospel, and trust that God uses weak people to show His power.
I’m looking forward to getting my fire pit out again once lockdown is over, but also beyond these Covid times that we’re living in. Although big events are important to bring large CUs together, there is something special about six people sitting around a fire, eating veggie chilli and sharing stories about the joys and struggles of evangelism, and I’m looking forward to incorporating more fire pit discussions into my CU ministry.
Although big events are important, there is something special about six people sitting around a fire, eating veggie chilli and sharing stories about the joys and struggles of evangelism. I’m looking forward to incorporating more fire pit discussions into my ministry.Tweet
“It was such an encouragement to know that other people also struggle with evangelism and to share ideas on how to become more effective witnesses. This term I plan to make prayer an essential part of my evangelism, asking God for more opportunities to talk about Him and to reveal to me the people He is seeking. I will make sure to ask more questions in my conversations with people so that I can better understand where they are coming from and make my evangelism more personal to them.” – Clara
“I felt really spurred on in my personal evangelism after reading ’Stay Salt’, being reminded that I’m not trying to impress my friends with my words but just share Jesus with them in any way that I can. I also really love Becky’s encouragement for when conversations don’t seem to go so well, that I can pray for people to be more open with the next Christian they talk to! There can and will be so much fruit from random chats that we never get to see this side of glory, and that’s not just fine but actually really exciting”. – Elsa
Recipes for your fire pit discussions – Garden gatherings