Remember when it was all about mission? OR Why can't the church be more like a university Christian Union?
The Ugley Vicar has a very thought provoking post on the mission effectiveness of the Christian Union compared with the average Anglican parish here: Local Mission and the Christian Union. Take a look, I think it's very perceptive and thought-provoking. He concludes that the CU wins hands down.
In addition to the excellent points John Richardson makes I'd add that there's a flexibility and energy to the CU which means it can move fast (in my experience it has to because students are notoriously lousy at planning), be creative and take risks. The leadership gets rotated every year, no-one gets to be minister, elder or deacon forever. You aren't running thousands of ministries, you are mission focused. You aren't bound by tradition and even though the leaders are inexperienced (most of us, myself included, really didn't know what we were doing) God seemed to come through for us a lot. There's an inevitable incarnational element to most student communities and an openness to one another that most of us miss out on later in life. We might even have been missional without knowing it. There's also a lot of time and space and a lot less responsibility - or at least that was the case twenty odd years ago. We thought we were busy. We really weren't. We wasted a lot of time hanging out together and I really can't see that it was wasted. Fellowship was deep, spontaneous rather than scheduled. It was all about mission. I wonder if a lot of us miss those days? I know that I do.
I'm a middle aged man, a Baptist Minister, and more to the point an evangelical Christian. I have a great family, the best wife, an interest in music (mainly the sort of things that a middle aged man should like) and media in general. I like my sport and hardly ever play any. Will watch Test matches very happily and have a love of football, Exeter City are my club of choice.