Andy Bannister: Evangelism at St Andrews University

In December the St Andrews University Christian Union were able to hold a carol service, in-person; working within the Covid-regulations that were in force at the time. So there was a good crowd in the church itself where I went to speak; but it was also streamed online because numbers in the building were restricted. It was great to be with them back at Christmas, because shortly I will be joining them again for their CU mission. That one will be completely online unfortunately, as in-person events won’t be allowed by then we think.

Christian Union carol-services are great though! Firstly they seem to be amongst the easiest events for Christian students to invite their friends to. It seems to be both an ‘easy-ask’ for the students and a great way of preparing the way for the mission-week in the New Year. Then on this occasion, the students told me that the tickets had gone like wildfire, because there were no other events taking place; everything else on campus was cancelled because of Covid/lockdown! Students were desperate to get out of of their halls and flats and go to an event so the CU was the only event in town!

The students put on a really great service, with carols and readings, and then I was invited to bring a Christmas message. I spoke on “the perfect gift”, because a great present has to be personal, meaningful, needed and costly! I was able to have a bit of fun with that around Christmas presents, but then pivot to the story of Jesus. God’s great gift to the world was personal (he didn’t send a piece of information, or a document – he came himself). This was also deeply meaningful because the gift of a saviour met our deepest and most profound need.  I was able to (of course!) throw some terrible Christmas jokes in there as you would expect and hope there was some laughter behind all the masks!

What we hope and pray, is that some of the students who were willing to come along and consider the claims of Christ there for the first time, will come back to the mission week, connect with us there and take things a stage deeper.

The CU President, Rachel Henry wrote:
In terms of numbers, we had the maximum number of people allowed under the restrictions, 50 in the building, but tickets sold out really quickly!  It was great to see CU members, especially first years, use the opportunity to bring their flatmates and friends. It went really well. It’s obviously strange to do a Carol service where we could only listen to carols and not join in, but it was still a great chance to hold an event in person, share the Bible, pray, and reflect on the gospel through Christmas!  In terms of follow up, we are running two courses this semester called ‘Explore’, one based on the Bible and one on big questions, for people who are interested in finding out more about Christianity. We have also had 2 people sign up to read Uncover Mark with a CU member this semester which is really exciting! We are praying that students will engage with our upcoming events week, 15th-19th February, with Andy speaking online on the theme of HOPE.

So as I prepare to head back to St Andrews CU to share the gospel with the students there, I’d be hugely grateful for the prayers of Solas supporters. Please pray for me that I’d speak wisely, truthfully and persuasively; pray for the students to have courage and tact as they invite friends – and pray for their non-Christian friends because above all we’d love to see them putting their faith in Jesus.