Get this book for your children, friends, youth group who are heading off to Uni... get them to read it before they go.
This is a very readable book (big type, short chapters) which tackles some big issues.
Two things I really love...
1) The focus on the main things at the beginning... God's plan, his mission, our relationship with him, church. This book keeps the main things as the main things.
2) It's incredibly practical and tackles relevant but awkward topics that some books might avoid (porn? relationships? housing?).
I hear the concerns raised about over prescribing on advice (such as on housing - and I'd agree), but frankly it's refreshing to hear someone give any advice on an issue like that, which seems trivial, but is very important!
I am a student work in a church in London and we have been thinking about giving all our new students this year a welcome gift in September. When I started to research the books on offer I was surprised that, outside of the stuff publishes by Fusion (which is great by the way), there was very little else on offer. I am so happy that someone like Matt has stepped into the fray to offer out something that many students will find incredible helpful and provoking.
I think the above reviews have already said what I would say better than I could say it. Matt’s style is wonderfully engaging, funny and honest. This, coupled with staying clear of detailed theological reasoning (which he could have digressed into at time) but not diluting truth, makes the book very easy to read (in small bite sized chapters) whilst still being challenging, practical and encouraging.
Like Matthew below, I would question his thoughts about recommending Christians live with only other Christians (I have seen many do this over the years and their resulting evangelistic contacts drops rapidly until they live in a Christina bubble), but Matt’s reasons are a well–articulated and useful for students to consider when making these choices. I would also have liked him to develop evangelism a bit more rather than just references to living a pure life and having conversations, but that said these are excellent aspects of evangelism in student culture.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to any student and wish such a resource had been available when I went to University all those years ago. I look forward to see what he will write next.
I am so thankful to Matt Carvel for taking the time to put together this winsome, practical, Biblical and insightful guide to living for Jesus at university. I don’t think there is a more alien, threatening or difficult transition in life than that from High School to University. To be thrust into an arena where there are more people, from more backgrounds, with looser morals and more opportunities accompanied with more time, less rules all saturated in a drinking, sexualised culture is a minefield for anyone. The first year of university is a journey into a rock–laden lagoon where there is potential to shipwreck ones faith in Christ and Christian witness at every turn. The freshman Christian is seemingly a very small minnow swimming upstream against a raging torrent of hedonism.
This book is very digestible, the chapters are short, the observations clear and the guidance extremely practical. The opening reminds the reader of God’s sovereignty and God’s mission, placing the life of the student within the unfolding story of what God is doing in His world. It then sets a brilliant foundation at about forming good habits in personal devotion to God, establishing yourself in a local church and studying to the glory of God. These are the essential baseline to undergird ones intention to stand firm and be shining and salty during university.
Moving out from there the book gets incredibly practical and discusses relationships, sex, alcohol and drugs and housing. Whilst this book is teeming with biblical wisdom there is a lot of personal wisdom offered. For example Matt offers some personal wisdom on living arrangements at university but is very upfront in saying what is personal opinion and what is biblical precedent. From this opening foray, the author then really digs deeper into some of the subjects previously mentioned.
The chapters on a Ten–Minute prayer time and a Ten–Minute Bible study are really helpful in modelling good practice to the students, not just highlighting the importance of ones personal devotions but also guiding the individual on how they might go about it. The book finishes with a 21 day guided reading plan for John’s gospel which is a great resource to accompany a students initial weeks at university.
This book is great and greatly needed. Having been in a church with students for the last 5 years it is really encouraging to see young people set a trajectory to make a difference for Jesus during their studies but it is deeply saddening to see others capsized and invaded by the worldliness so prevalent in further education. God willing this book will be greatly used in forewarning and therefore forearming individuals about the pitfalls, issues and dangers of university life, whilst exciting, enthusing and equipping for the work that Jesus has for them to do in campus.
At my church we have taken delivery of a bulk order to give away to every new student who crosses the threshold of our church in the first weeks of term.
I knew Matt Carvel briefly as a fellow student worker in Brighton, so was delighted to see this book come out. Matt’s writing style is laid back and conversational, and reading this book feels like a chat over a pint. That’s not to say it’s not serious – Matt is writing to encourage Christians at uni to “walk the road less travelled”, living and speaking for Jesus even when it’s costly. He covers lots of ground: there are short chapters on church, study, drink, relationships, sex, housing, and spending time with God, and that’s just the first half of the book!
I particularly appreciated where Matt starts the book: reflecting on God’s sovereignty in which university the reader has ended up at, and ultimately why they are there (”God has placed you at university for the purpose of His mission… building His church through spreading the Gospel of Jesus”). The second chapter similarly sets up a recurring theme throughout the book – that of taking the narrow road that leads to salvation, one marked by struggle but ultimately greater joy.
I might have one or two quibbles about specific advice (e.g. his being quite so adamant about living in single sex houses), and on occasion I’d have liked him to go further (e.g. in showing us more of why keeping sex for marriage is good, and not just “because God says so”), but on the whole I’d thoroughly recommend this book for students heading to uni.