So far in this series we’ve looked at the why and the what of Christian postgraduate groups. Some of our readers will already be involved in such groups. But there are plenty of universities in the UK where no such group exists at all. The cpgrad.org.uk site has been around for years, and has a list of Christian postgraduate groups. There may be some gaps (do leave a comment here if you notice any), but most of the established groups are probably there, and it’s not a long list!
Perhaps you are one of the isolated Christian postgraduate students at a university that isn’t listed, wishing that there was a group you could join, but not sure how to get one going? If so, this post is for you!
The three of us writing this short series of posts (Eline, Thom and Anthony) found ourselves moving to the Liverpool area last autumn. We’d recently taken up our roles as three of the five Faith-in-Scholarship fellows, and we were keen to do something to support Christian postgraduates in Liverpool, where there wasn’t an existing group. What follows is a brief description of the strategy we adopted, and which has led to the formation of the Liverpool Postgraduate Christian Forum (PGCF)—still in its early stages, but going well so far!
- Gather a core team. We started meeting each week to discuss our ideas for the group, and we committed to praying for God’s guidance and blessing. It’s much easier to do this as part of a small team, rather than on your own.
- Chat with lots of people. We put together a list of people to meet up with: chaplains, lecturers, postdocs, postgrads, church workers, etc. We wanted to discuss our vision for the group, find out about any existing groups, learn about the church scene, get lots of ideas and make contact with plenty of people.
- Preliminary ideas. Sooner or later it will become clear how best to proceed. For our situation, we were offered a suitable venue in the heart of the university, and it seemed that meeting on a weekday from 5-7pm would be a good thing to try.
- Have a trial session. We invited the people we had made contact with to come together, meet each other, and discuss ideas for the group. We found plenty of enthusiasm, and had a good number at our first meeting
- More planning/discussion sessions. People were keen to meet again, and we’ve been continuing to lay foundations for the group, and to share ideas for publicity and what to do in the meetings.
- Plan a term’s programme. It’s definitely worth getting beyond the “What shall we do next week?” way of functioning and to have a more structured programme.
- Have an “official” launch. It needn’t be anything big, but having a guest speaker and making it into a special occasion can be a good stimulus to publicising the group. There will always be lots of Christian postgraduates out there, and a bit of a “splash” can help you to discover some of them!
If you’re trying to get a group going in your own university, do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!