A Theology of Worship at University

What does it mean to worship as a student? Alex Clare-Young shares his thoughts.

What does it mean to worship as a student, moving away from home and starting a new learning journey? I’m afraid that I have more questions than answers (a bit of a habit for me) but as a student, and a theologian – someone who talks about God – I do have a few ideas. So, here are six thoughts:

1.       We worship God

We worship God, and we need to remember what that means. It means we worship a source of trust, hope and restoration. It means we worship a creator and a parent. It means we worship truth. It also means we need to worship honestly- the God whom each of us, individually and as a body, believe in.

Who is your God?

2.       We worship Jesus-style

Jesus was our first example of worshipping and, honestly, he didn’t really tell us how to do it Sunday-morning style. Jesus-style worship means eating joyfully, but making sure all are fed. It means living well, but ensuring that rules don’t get in the way of helping others. It means turning tables and questioning norms. It means questioning and wondering and talking.

Who is Jesus to you?

3.       We worship with the Spirit

The Spirit is with us as a sign of hope and promise. My Dad wisely reminded me that it is ‘moving, unpredictable and lively – wild fire, free flowing water, flying bird’. Why did he have to remind me of this? Because we students are rather fond of books. Don’t let worship be constrained by doctrine, dogma, or theological opinion. The Spirit speaks to each of us.

Where is the Spirit leading you?

4.       The Church should be an Alternative Community

The Apostle Paul witnesses to the Church as an alternative community, a body which is part of this world but is something different and unique. I believe that this means three things for us as student worshippers. Firstly, we shouldn’t be afraid to be different. Be yourself. Bring the whole of who you are to God. Secondly, find others. Don’t be alone in your alternativeness. Look for those, both within and outside of the Church, whose difference plays well with your difference; and worship and debate and pray together. Thirdly, don’t be afraid to find your ‘Church’ outside of ‘The Church’. The true Church is the collective of all of those who believe in God and follow Christ in the power of the Spirit. If there isn’t a space for you…make one.

Who is your alternative community?

5.       We worship on Sundays…and every other day too

Take some time out to just be with God. It might be going to a Church service or a Student Christian Movement meeting. Or it might be a nature walk, time spent reading the Bible, or an afternoon set aside just to colour or create or sing. Meet God where you are. Make time to stop. Find time, no matter how busy you are. But worship God the rest of the time too. Do everything that you do to the fullest, knowing that you are loved.

How do you feel like worshipping?

6.       Don’t be afraid to stop

Stop. This is the one thing I wish I had been told at the start of my first degree. It is also something I still have to tell myself daily as I look towards beginning my third degree. God can speak into busyness, but we do need time to listen. If taking time to listen to God means that you don’t have time to go to church, or volunteer for charity, or read the Bible every day, that is ok. Stop, listen, learn, laugh. Be free, be you, and worship.

When can you listen to God today?

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