How to set up a Music Network group at your university

Here is a quick guide to the key things to think about as you set up a Music Network group at your university. The UCCF Music Network exists across the UK to help students live for Christ in the world of music. Local Music Network groups in your own universities can be a great place to equip you for that, as well as being a place of encouragement to each other. Whether there are just two or three Christians in your faculty, or a whole bunch of you, hopefully this guide will help you to make the most of the opportunity that a Music Network group brings. First things first:

Prayer

It is so important to start off this project with prayer. It is vital to seek God first in our planning process and to seek His will for the group. He will direct and guide us, and open doors for us where necessary, which can be essential, especially if working alongside a Student Union. Prayer is integral at every part of the process, and beyond! Start praying for the students that will be come to your meetings, and for those you can reach out to in your department.


Logistics

There’s a lot to think about to get your Music Network group up and running. First of all, chat with your CU Staff Worker and CU committee members, so that they know what you are doing, and can support you in it. Music Network groups are meant to be part of the wider university Christian Union, not a musicians-only replacement for it, or operating entirely separately from it.


Next up is to think about when and where you want the group to take place. If you go to your department office and ask for a full schedule of seminars, lectures, and ensemble rehearsals, you can try and find a time that most people will be free. Late afternoon is often a freer time, before people have evening commitments. On or near campus are the best locations as students may have to come straight after lectures. To book a room on campus, it might be necessary to ask the committee to help you out.


Finally, it is important to think about the frequency of the meetings. Fortnightly seems to work well as it is frequent enough that people don’t forget about it in the business of student life, whilst not adding too much to people’s diaries. This means you will meet roughly 4-5 times a term. If this is too much initially, you could start off by having monthly meetings, just to get the ball rolling and encourage people to start coming.



The meetings themselves

What you choose to do in the meetings is entirely up to you! There are key things to include such as a Bible discussion, and prayer. Optional activities could be an icebreaker, which are particularly helpful in the first few meetings; sung worship, which is a good way to join in fellowship with one another, and focus hearts before reading the Bible; and of course, notices, which keep people informed about conferences, and the events happening at CU at which they can serve. You can ask different people in the group to lead the icebreakers and worship, so that everyone has a chance to be involved if they want to. You could also have a snack rota!


The Bible discussion can vary hugely between meetings. Try making them interactive, allowing people to discuss. It is great to bring in outside speakers to help you in this, but you can do it yourself. Try and have a good balance between broader and narrower topics, and don’t be afraid to make it really specific. Below is an outline of potential topics that you could do throughout the year.


Meeting

Discussion Topic

Additional Notes

1

Introduction to Music Network

Share the vision, what it looks like, and how people can be involved. Get people excited to be involved.

2

Where does music come from? – A brief Bible overview of music

It’s also worth sharing the vision again briefly, just to remind people, and for potential newcomers.

3

Music in the Psalms – Explore the Psalmists’ use of music and importance in all different situations.

A good time to start thinking about ways you could evangelise in the department. Have a brainstorm and get people to decide what they want to do.

4

Music as a gift – Think about why we have music and who it comes from. This might lead to a good worship session afterwards!

Carry out the evangelistic idea from the previous meeting. Don’t forget to tell the CU what you are doing so they can be praying with you!

5

Testimony - Invite a professional musician to come and give their testimony of working as a musician. A great opportunity for students to ask questions.

Make sure to advertise this one well, and encourage people to come along, making the most of your visitor.

6

What are the biggest challenges we face as musicians? – Spend lots of time brainstorming what these are, and try and categorise them into 2 or 3 larger groups.

Bear in mind that this might be a difficult discussion for some people, and take into consideration that some students won’t have thought about this before, so leave plenty of time for people to discuss.

7

A Biblical response to challenges – Take one of the categories and look at how the Bible teaches us to respond.

It’s time to think about evangelism again! This could even be volunteering as a group to serve the CU and one of the big events. Have another brainstorm together!

8

A Biblical response to challenges – Take one of the categories and look at how the Bible teaches us to respond.

Carry out the evangelistic idea from the previous meeting. Remember to keep the CU in the loop with what you are doing so they can be praying with you and spreading the word beforehand.

9

Testimony 2 - Invite a different professional musician to come and give their testimony of working as a musician. A great opportunity for students to ask questions.

Try and find a professional from a different area of music from the first. Make sure to advertise this one well, and encourage people to come along, making the most of your visitor.

10

Final meeting and social – At the end of term or the year, have a meeting followed by a social and enjoy spending time with one another. If you have students that are graduating, spend some time praying for them. Also, if any of your students are going on tour, think about how they can live distinctively whilst being away.

The last meeting is really flexible and will be dependent on your MN group. Try and think about each individual and what will be most valuable for them.  


Publicity

Perhaps one of the more difficult things to think about is how you are going to publicise the group. As it is for Christians who study music, there are some useful outlets where you can give notices, such as in the main CU meetings, or at churches. You can also communicate through word of mouth in the music department, especially as in ensembles, you get to know people so quickly.

Another thing to think about is social media. It can be really helpful to create a private Facebook group to update members of the group with times and dates of meetings, and notices for the week. Ask the CU committee if you can add a link for this on the main CU page.


Wider UCCF Music Network Support

Throughout the year, the wider UCCF Music Network runs events that equip you and should help you to be able to run a successful local group. These conferences are vital for any leaders, and useful for all musicians as they equip you for your area of study. They are also a great opportunity to meet with music students from around the country, to get to know each other and compare notes to help each other. Encourage your whole group to come to these events as they are really valuable.


There is also this website with its useful resources, as well as the regular blogs to which you can sign up. You can find interviews with musicians, articles from students and staff workers, prayer requests from certain music colleges or MN groups, and book reviews, so it's a really excellent resource.


So, although this outline isn’t exhaustive, I hope it has helped you begin thinking about how to start a Music Network group at your university!