How can my church support those heading off to university this Autumn?

12 July 2023

Many of us will have school leavers in our church congregations, and some of those leavers will be heading off to university in the Autumn. How can we wrap around these young adults to ensure a smooth transition, as they venture into the world and learn how to live a Christian life away from the safety of their families and home churches?

One of the great gifts of the church is that we get to champion one another across generations.

Young people heading to university from a church family can be sent not just with a parent’s love and a youth worker’s encouragement but with the prophetic insight of the octogenarian, the excited enthusiasm of the question-full 6 year old and the recently-lived stories of the young professional.

How might we encourage the whole church to champion these young people as they step into their next season of walking with Jesus?

Prayer partners

Arriving at university for the first time can be daunting, overwhelming and confusing, with a lot of new information to take in and a lot of new people to meet.

Surrounding our young people in prayer is so powerful as they take this big step into the world, but we can often forget about them once they’ve left. Matching up our school leavers with an individual or couple within the church who will commit to praying regularly for them is a wonderful way to show our love and support.

Who in your church might partner up with a school leaver and commit to praying for them through their first term at university?


University can be a difficult place to be a Christian. Students are often exposed to new experiences and ways of thinking, some of which don’t marry with their Christian faith.

But it can also be an exciting place to be a Christian. Many students who have never explored the claims of Jesus find themselves curious to know more. Fusion is reporting an increased spiritual hunger amongst unchurched students, and there is often a great openness to visit a church, discuss the Bible, or attend a short explorers’ course.

So why not organise a commissioning service for those heading off to university from your church? You could consider the Sending out of the 72 in Luke 10, or John 17 where Jesus prays for his disciples before his arrest, and make space to publicly commission those heading to uni (and perhaps those more broadly heading out of school into different fields).

Participation in preparation

Release your church family into sharing their talents and expertise with your young adults about to embark on a university adventure.

What gifts might your wider congregation have to contribute to a young person’s preparation for university? Could it be their wisdom, shared on a Q&A panel; their cooking skills or recipes, taught in an evening of skill-learning, conversation and prayer; their artistic skills, used in making cards for those leaving to remind them of their church family cheering them on back home?

Getting the wider church participating in a young person’s preparation for university will not only bless that student but bless the rest of the church, as they start to feel impactful in another Christian’s life.


When your students arrive home for holidays, how will the church welcome them back?

And how might you welcome back not only those students you sent but possibly those they’ve met whilst there? Whether International Students invited home to experience a British Christmas or uni mates visiting over a long weekend, how can you communicate welcome in such a way that is a blessing to the Christian witness of your school leavers as they seek to share Christ in their student community?

Further Reading

Church and Students – a great little book to give you more insight into the call of student mission and the church. It will give you insight to guide your discipling of your school leavers into this transition and give freshers a biblical, missional perspective to carry onto campus. Sections of this article are taken from this book.

The Student Linkup Box” – a preparation for uni resource designed to compliment your own conversations in this season, giving vision, challenge, encouragement and insight for the pivotal time.

Sections of this article are taken from Church and Students, available at

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