I've just had the first of what will no doubt be a number of emails from student/youth/assistant pastors asking me that if we were sending any students to university in their town/city we would direct them towards their church. I always have mixed feelings when I receive such emails. Whilst in one sense its great to know that there are churches to direct students towards I almost want to vet those churches. To email back and ask if they will be sending those students back to us (or any other church) three years hence better equipped and trained, more in love with Jesus and more aware of the need and more determined to see God's kingdom grow in the United Kingdom. Or whether their students usually stay on with them after graduation, thus growing their church at the cost of churches in non-university towns.
Last year I posted some questions I'd love to ask them but haven't yet dared to:
1. What percentage of students who come to you do you encourage to engage in the work of mission on campus through the CU because you recognise the unique strategic opportunity it presents? How practically do you encourage and facilitate that?
2. How do you help students gain a vision of God's kingdom that encompasses more than just your church or city or town, but a passion for the gospel to be known across the UK?
3. How do you equip, train and release those students who come to you to serve the kingdom across the world?
4. What percentage of your students stay with you on graduation and why do they stay?
5. What percentage of your graduates leave to go to gospel deprived areas of the town or city or to serve in gospel work in other UK towns or cities?
There are others but they are the principle five. Because here's my concern the cost to small evangelical churches of sending their young people to university is staggeringly high because most do not return. It means that nationally churches outside of university towns are ageing, lose the next generation of leaders, and will eventually die out.
I'm almost tempted to add one last question to those above. 'Imagine, that over the next 5 years every one of your young people left to move to another city and did not return and were not replaced by other young people, how would that impact your church? How would it effect it's budget, it's children's work, it's bible study, it's pastoral care, it's ability to reach out with the gospel, it's leadership? What values would you ask the churches where those young people went to instil in them?'