One way of helping ensure our students learn how to combine theory and practice is through ‘placements’—working hands-on in the local community, being based at either a church or parachurch organisation. But what is life on placement really like?
At our Christchurch Campus, students can choose to study the BA degree as either a placement-based student or a campus-based student. Placement-based students attend lectures one day per week, and for a few block weeks throughout the year, whilst typically working in the community the rest of the time. Being a campus-based student is a little different; it’s a way of attending lectures four days per week, whilst doing approximately four to six hours of placement per week during term time.
Three Christchurch campus-based students share their experiences at their placements thus far, and outline their prayers for the New Year.
“We directly put into practice what we have learnt in lectures for the grand aim of edifying the local church.”
Second year campus-based student
I am placed at Bournemouth International Church (BIC), which is a Conservative Evangelical church in the area of Boscombe that aims to serve the International Christian community of Bournemouth.
I have now been attending BIC for a year or so, and have been serving as part of my placement for two to three months now. Before starting my second year in early October, I was informed that serving at BIC would definitely mean plenty to do; this has turned out to be a very honest reflection of my involvement there in seemingly every sphere. This is something I, not to mention the fellow students also serving alongside me, have come to really love.
Prior to coming to Moorlands, I admittedly would have done all I could to avoid Children & Youth work. Thankfully, God has changed this and has given me a love for His church and a willingness to serve in whatever capacity I am able. As well as being on the rota for BIC’s lively Sunday School, the church also has regular events and activities for the many international students in Bournemouth to improve their English, whilst also providing them with a meal and a Gospel message. We have been delighted to see fruit from this ministry as people from this gathering have become regular attendees of our Sunday service. To see God’s hand in bringing people to Himself has been a true joy!
Personally, the highlight of this term has been the opportunity to co-lead a Homegroup Bible study we have named ‘Rooted’ which goes through the foundations of our faith as believers in Christ. This has been thoroughly interesting and equipping not least for us as students, as we directly put into practice what we have learnt in lectures for the grand aim of edifying the local church. It has been wonderful to prepare and lead talks and Bible studies around different doctrines (the Gospel, Scripture, Holy Spirit, Church etc). It has also been humbling to help lead fellow believers to the Truth found in His Word.
If you could pray for me in the New Year, I would ask that as I prepare to give one of my first sermons at BIC sometime in January/February; that I would be able to preach boldly and faithfully and I would trust in God’s power to change hearts. Prayers for BIC and myself would be greatly appreciated.
“That’s the best part about my church placement; it is a family full of fun and laughter.”
Second year campus-based student
When I started at Moorlands in September 2015, I was placed at New Forest Christian Fellowship (NFCF). NFCF was planted just over two years ago in October 2014 by Mark and Karen Petrauskas and is completely different to any church I had attended previously.
At NFCF I get involved with pretty much everything; I help run our weekly Sunday School and I am on the rota for the PA on a Sunday morning. I also run a Wednesday small group with my placement partner and I am also spearheading our new Messy Church project. I love this church so much and have felt so much a part of the family from day one; I even stayed over the summer to carry on with the children’s and youth work. The children and young people have such amazing personalities and bring joy to my life regularly; watching them grow closer to God every day is something I really cherish.
I have felt so welcomed in this placement; as soon as I walked through the doors I felt relaxed and knew that God has placed me in the right church. There is never a dull moment at NFCF and there are always doughnuts on a Sunday morning! I know I can go to anyone in our congregation for a chat or support. We are a very close-knit family; when someone celebrates we all celebrate, and when someone grieves we all grieve. I think that’s the best part about my church placement; it is a family full of fun and laughter.
My prayer for the New Year is that we as a church would remember how blessed we are and that the church will continually grow, never forgetting that God is at the centre of it. I pray for Messy Church in that I would be able to secure a permanent date each month to really bless the community with it. Lastly, I pray that as a church we would be able to find a more permanent building to meet in; we are growing as a congregation and praise God we are becoming too big for the building we are in now.
“I’ve been involved with video creation and editing for one of the Foodbank projects, and more recently SQL database management.”
Third year campus-based student
For my first two years at Moorlands, I had the pleasure of working with St Mary’s in Bransgore. This year, in my final year at Moorlands, I decided to undertake the venture that is a split placement.
So, my placements for my third year are… (drum roll, please, unless you already know where I’m placed in which case pretend you don’t and do a drum roll anyway… Boscombe Baptist Church and Faithworks Wessex!
I attend Boscombe Baptist Church every Sunday morning and this usually means an early start to set up before the morning service. Throughout the service, I then run everything tech-wise and set up the rig for instruments/singers and speakers. I started getting interested in tech at an early age. Through my grandparents, primarily my grandfather (RAF), I was introduced to the Armed Forces Christian Union where I ran the tech; it was a great experience and have enjoyed continuing it through my placement.
My favourite part of this church is a Chappell & Co London 56563 framed grand piano. The raw authentic sound is almost completely unparalleled in my playing experience, and has a near perfect power-to-tone ratio. I rarely come across grand pianos, especially not ones playable on a weekly basis, so this really is a gift from God in my eyes.
There are always plenty of opportunities to get involved here; the people act like a true church family and create a warm and welcoming community that I’m glad to be part of.
Now onwards to the second half of my split placement; Faithworks Wessex. Faithworks is essentially an umbrella for 12 projects (that I know of!). They run several Foodbanks in the local areas: Sleepsafe (help for rough sleepers), Money Matters (financial support) and many others. I’m specifically involved with two parts of Faithworks: the first being in the Faithworks office, and the second, in working with the Befriender service.
The Befrienders service is designed for carers; people who are looking after a friend or relative with a long-term illness. The volunteers in this project (known as Befrienders) will go to these carers (called clients) and provide pastoral care. The goal isn’t to physically help or get involved with the caring process, but to provide someone for the client to talk to about whatever they want. We also work with a partner project called CARE who provide physical support such as a sitter service allowing the client some precious free time. At the moment, I work with the leader of the project to meet clients for pastoral care or add them to the service if they’re new. I’m hoping that at some point over the next term I’ll be able to get more involved with this project and take on some clients of my own.
As for the office stuff, this is where I’m best able to use my tech skills. I started off the term by looking into e-commerce solutions for Faithworks to set up an online store to sell donated items; this was great as it also allowed me to delve into my business knowledge. I’ve also been involved with video creation and editing for one of the Foodbank projects, and more recently SQL database management.
A little project that I’m excited to start is creating an informational mapping app/website that can link everything going on with all the local churches. I’ve never developed anything like this before and am hoping it will be a good challenge.
I pray that this next year will be plentiful of great opportunities to serve through both Boscombe Baptist Church and Faithworks Wessex with my skills in music, tech and business.
For more information on the different modes of study we offer at our Christchurch campus, please follow this link. Further information about our Midlands and South West Regional Centres can also be found on our website.