Thinking about how to engage your friends and coursemates with the gospel through the lens of science? Here’s a step-by-step guide to hosting various kinds of evangelistic events that will help you tell your friends about Jesus. From just reading a book with a mate over coffee to hosting a large-scale debate, there’s something here for everyone, ordered from least to most organisation required.
Reading with a friend
Reading and discussing a book about science and faith is a great way to address questions that friends have about science and Christianity, or questions they haven’t even thought of yet! You won’t find a better place to start than John Lennox’s book ‘Can Science Explain Everything?’.
Organisation required: Almost none
2. Ask friend if they’d be interested in reading this book and discussing it.
3. Find a convenient time and place (your room, or a coffee shop).
4. Read a chapter each week and meet to discuss what you’ve read, using the discussion questions available on the Science Network website.
Tips: This is a great way to follow up a conversation about science and Christianity, or to keep friends thinking after an event. We highly recommend ‘Can Science Explain Everything?’, but for a more challenging read ‘God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?’, also by John Lennox, is also excellent. ‘Am I Just My Brain?’ by Sharon Dirckx addresses questions about whether neuroscience alone can tell us all we need to know about humanity.
Meal with a message
Get together with your group of friends for a meal and discussion on a topic that connects science and the gospel.
Organisation required: A little bit
• 4-10 friends
• A topic for discussion
• A speaker – you could invite a Christian lecturer or PhD student, your staff worker or Relay, someone from your church or just do it yourself!
• A venue – your room is ideal if it’s big enough, or a kitchen or common room in a shared house
1. Pray, pray, and pray some more!
2. Choose a topic for your dialogue dinner. Think creatively! Examples include ‘What makes us human?’, ‘Has evolution ruled out a Creator?’, ‘Has science moved beyond religion?’
3. Find a speaker who could give a five-minute presentation on that topic which will open up some questions and point people to the gospel.
4. Find a venue, date and time and plan food. A home-cooked meal is ideal but pizza works too!
5. Invite your friends! Make sure it’s clear that there’s a discussion element to the evening so they’re not surprised.
6. On the night, get your friends round and eat dinner together. Encourage mingling if not everyone knows each other.
7. Between the main course and dessert, introduce the speaker and get them to share a brief presentation on the topic (no more than five minutes!).
8. Over dessert, encourage discussion on the topic – it might be helpful to prepare some questions to start conversation. Give people a chance to ask the speaker questions.
9. At the end of the evening, suggest a next step people could take to keep investigating Christianity. Maybe they could read Uncover with someone, or come along to church or a CU event?
Tips: This is a great event to host with a Christian friend. Are there other Christians on your course or in your friendship group that you could get together with to put on a meal with a message? When choosing a title, try to think of the kind of questions that your friends are actually asking. Keep it relevant to them, but sufficiently existential that they have to engage with the Christian message. You could even borrow the title of a book and then suggest that they read it afterwards!
More personal than a lunchbar and wider-reaching than a meal with a message, a regular discussion group is a great way to invite people into an ongoing conversation about Jesus and how he speaks into our studies. All you need is a group of people, somewhere you can gather and some interesting things to talk about!
Organisation required: Some preparation of discussion material each week
• Discussion material
• A handful of interested people
• Optional - publicity
• Optional - refreshments
1. Choose a time and venue. Lunchtime might work well, as everyone can bring their lunch along and eat while you chat, in which case go for a venue on campus like a coffee shop, department cafe or the SU. If you’re meeting in the evening, someone’s room would be a great venue.
2. Decide what you’re going to discuss during the meetings. Watching videos together is a great way to open up discussion – for example, the Owlinspace website has some excellent short videos and podcasts on science-related topics. Maybe you could discuss some chapters from one of the books recommended above, a recent bit of science from the news, or an article like this one on scientific pluralism?
3. Spend a bit of time working on questions to ask that will open up conversation and lead to a point of being able to share the gospel. Maybe different members of the group could take turns leading discussion from week to week.
4. Invite friends along. Think about whether you could publicise the group more widely, maybe with posters in your department or a message in your subject group chat.
5. On the day, try and create a welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable giving their point of view. Ask open questions that invite different opinions, and be confident putting forward the Christian perspective and talking about the truth and goodness of the gospel!
Tips: If you can, try and tailor your discussion topics to the people in your group. For example, if it’s made up of mostly physicists, you might not spend lots of time talking about evolution but they may have lots to say about the concept of a Grand Unified Theory!
A lunchtime talk gives you a bit more time to go deeper into a topic, and hear the gospel clearly presented. You could fit a science-themed lunchbar into your CU’s regular lunchbar or events week programme, or hold a one-off event.
Organisation required: A fair bit of logistics
• An interesting talk title
• A speaker
• A venue – a seminar room, lecture theatre or other bookable venue on campus
• Publicity – a Facebook event, flyers, posters
• A small team to set up the venue and get food there
2. Find a date and time that works. Plan far enough ahead to give your speaker time to prepare. Choose a time that fits around as many people’s timetables as possible – when are most people on their lunch break?
3. Book a venue on campus that can hold plenty of people, but won’t feel too empty if not so many people show up. Make sure it’s close to lecture halls or labs so that people coming straight from classes can make it on time.
4. Choose a title and invite a speaker. You can either choose a title first and look for a speaker who can address that topic, or find a speaker and see what titles they’ve given talks on before. Talk to your staff worker about finding a great speaker.
5. Plan what food and drink you’ll have on offer. A free lunch is a great pull! You can make baguettes cheaply and easily, or many supermarkets have sandwich platters available to order. Think about how many people are likely to come – you don’t want anyone to go without lunch!
6. Advertise your event. The website Canva is a great, free tool for designing flyers and posters. Check whether you’re allowed to put posters up around your campus, hand out flyers or give a notice at the end of a lecture.
7. Invite your friends personally – offer to meet them beforehand, or go straight from a lecture together.
8. On the day: get together your team of people to set up the venue and get food ready in plenty of time. Have people on the doors to welcome guests.
9. Introduce your speaker, who will speak for 15-20 minutes on the topic.
10. Allow some time for Q&A, either by texting in questions or asking from the floor.
11. Wrap up the event on time, so that people can get to afternoon classes. Offer them an opportunity to keep thinking about the topic, by taking away a book or meeting up with a CU member.
Tips: The key to a successful lunchbar is getting your CU to invite their friends – more people will come from a personal invitation than a flyer! Use a slot in your CU meeting to explain the vision of the event, and take the lead yourself in inviting people along.
Address the conflicts between different worldviews head-on by hosting a debate! Debates let us demonstrate the intellectual credibility of the gospel in the face of scrutiny, and are always well-attended.
Organisation required: Lots (but don’t let that put you off!
• A Christian speaker who is confident defending the Christian worldview against criticism
• A non-Christian speaker who is similarly competent
• A host to chair the debate
• Venue – lecture theatres are ideal
• A team of 4-10 stewards
• Optional – recording or live-streaming capacity
2. Choose a topic for the debate. Here are some ideas for questions: ‘Can science explain everything?’, ‘Has science disproved God?’, ‘Is belief in miracles rational?’, ‘Is the universe here by chance?’
3. Find speakers and a host. Make sure that the speakers are similarly well-qualified to speak on this topic: we don’t want to be accused of fixing the debate! Your university’s humanist or atheist society might be able to help you find a non-Christian speaker. Your host needs to be able to guide and mediate the discussion throughout the event.
4. Work out a date that both of your speakers can make and book your venue.
5. Advertise the debate. This has the potential to be a big, high-profile event so go big on publicity – posters, flyering, a big social media campaign… Get your CU’s publicity team on side to help you out.
6. Work with your speakers and host on the structure of the debate. What will the opening question be? How will the host mediate conversation? How much time will you allow for audience Q&A?
7. Consider whether you can record or live-stream your event – other CUs could screen it at the same time! Chat to the venue and your CU’s tech team about sound and lighting etc.
8. On the day, have stewards at the venue to welcome and direct people to seats. If you want questions from the audience, give a steward a roving mic.
9. At the end of the event, thank your speakers and give guests an opportunity to respond. Have relevant books to give away as people leave, and give them the option to come to another event or meet up with a CU member to chat more.
Tips: Putting on a debate might seem like a lot of work, but CUs across the country have hosted amazingly successful debates in the past! Check out this article from a Dundee student on how they organized a debate. You might also be inspired by this video of a Science Network debate in Southampton that’s been viewed more than 300,000 times on Youtube!
If you need any extra advice or support just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - we'd love to help you as you seek to reach your friends with the gospel!
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