Welcome week can be the most crucial week for a Theology Network hub; it is an important time to connect with evangelical theology students and introduce them to the CU and Theology Network. It’s also a great chance to get Theology Network onto the radar of theology students who might be seeking faith and onto the radar of the CU more broadly.
That is why it is worth putting effort into your first event of the year to draw students in and to get your Theology Network hub off to a great start. You’ll want to have this event near the end of welcome week, or in the first full week of term.
What to do in Welcome Week
It is a good idea to do something relaxed for your introductory session, based around food – like a garden party or picnic. Invite everyone from the theology department (not just the Christian students) and spend most of the time just enjoying getting to know each other.
Include a presentation of what Theology Network is, why it matters, and how they can benefit from being involved. You can either do the speaking yourself if you feel confident about it, or one of the Theology Network staff would be delighted to come along and speak!
You may also want to include a taste of what a Theology Network discussion is like. Have a read of the reflections from Oxford Theology Network’s welcome events attached.
Make sure you invite theology students from all years, and anyone already involved in your Theology Network group to your introductory event.
Advertise through the CU. Get in touch with the CU committee or the CU Freshers team before the summer and get a Theology Network event listed on the CU’s Freshers week publicity material. Consider going to CU welcome events (and pre-term events like freshers’ get-away or freshers’ Zoom call) and volunteer for the CU Freshers stall so that you can invite students personally!
Advertise through the theology department. Different universities will have different channels of communication that you may be able to advertise through. Ask the department about this and see if you can put an announcement in the department email, Facebook group, or whatever other communication there is. They may have a welcome pack for new theology students that you can get a flyer put into. You might even be able to give an announcement in a welcome seminar for new theology students.
Other Things to Note
It is a good aim to have the first term’s programme ready to give out at this event (at least the regular time and location). New students will then feel they are fitting into something that has already got off the ground and is worth joining. If you’re not sure how to put this together check out the planning advice here.
You might also find some of UCCF's advice for welcoming new students to CUs helpful for thinking through how to welcome new students to Theology Network.