My Forum experience: the music college student

Nathan Fenwick 17 Sep 18

Assembling students from across the UK and even beyond, Forum is an opportunity to be equipped and engaged as an influential (and hopefully inspiring) member of your CU. As a rather new and very inexperienced CU leader, I found it a wonderful place to gather as a community and to start preparing for the wonderful world of Freshers' Week.

A focus on creative mission

With teaching on anything from prayer to Events Week, and everything in between, there was, of course, a Music Network track, led by our own Tom Chevis. It was a stimulating this time for the focus not so much to be on living out our lives as Christian musicians, but rather to be on the missional aspect of being a music student, especially in the context of CU. How do we engage creatively with our music college campus when the students there are so different from those at a “proper” university? How do we convince them to leave a practice room for an event that - in their eyes - won’t further their career? Combined with the launch of Uncover Mark, and the track I attended on Events Week planning, everything about Forum was focusing on personal evangelism. As someone who admittedly could be much more outspoken about their faith, it was a big challenge to me. Uncover Mark is new in having a broad array of multisensory facets to speak to people: along with the text itself, there is an accompanying drama, spoken word pieces, and new music. How can I use these at the RNCM? What makes people tick? Do I truly know my campus and the people on it well enough to make events specific to their needs? How can I use music to fuel discussions in an interesting, engaging way? What ideas are there in the music that we blithely just play through, without thinking about the significance of the meaning?

I am excited to attempt these in the wonderful world of RNCM (Royal Northern College of Music). I can think of a number of friends who I maintain colloquial professionalism with, but nothing more. How can I use the time I have to meet them on a personal level and actually have conversations as more than a good colleague? I know I should be researching the music that I’m playing, but who does that at conservatoire? We’re there to play, not worry ourselves with whatever academia is, right? And yet having a missional mindset provides an incentive for this work I should be doing, and in so doing should provide a route to engage with people as we discuss the ideas that the given piece of music inhabits.

The freedom found in Christ-centred mission

Forum is about equipping students to engage their peers with someone far more important than music – the creator God himself, the very foundation on which all creativity and artistry lies. I find it amazing to think that although music can be so emotionally powerful, it cannot compare to the one who created it in an instant.

I love that we all have such different ideas and processes and thoughts and ideas. It’s hard work attempting normality, and I find it a great relief that we are not called to uniformity. I enjoy being different, and that is one of the wonderful things about music – we can celebrate the differences in other people, that our musical interpretation isn’t the only way, and appreciate them for it. Why, then, should we fear being different as Christians? I speak to myself as much as to anyone, maybe more so. I suspect most Forum attendees will remember the Uncover Mark launch evening; what a wonderfully animated speaker Graham Daniels is!* In the midst of all the challenges, it was a comfort to be reminded that no matter how pants we are as evangelists, God can use that in the most wonderful ways as we hold out Jesus to our friends, simply by using His Word. We have been transformed by our loving heavenly Father through the power of the perfect Son. We can be so different in our outlook and interpretation of the world around us.

"Our great and wonderful God"

Forum was an amazing opportunity, and I love the opportunities to gather together in the hundreds and spend a few days focusing solely on our God. I always feel so inspired, encouraged and equipped by the end, before the challenge of holding on to it all and applying it! So if I'm able to apply even one thing, I’m happy. There is so much teaching, and all of it is just wonderful. In some ways, I am scared of this year. I am young and inexperienced, especially in leadership positions. I by no means see myself as the perfect example for any fresher that I’ll be bumping into, and sometimes a sense of my own inadequacy looms large. I am hoping that this year will be the one that I constantly remember that it is not the size of the event, nor the eloquence of my conversation that makes the difference, but consistent, intentional prayer, and the power of our great and wonderful God. I think that is something that we can all be excited about.  

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[From ed:] To watch Graham Daniels' inspirational talk on The Parable of the Sower to launch of Uncover Mark, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krU4dsWYuiw

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