How to start and run a Student Group

Our vision is that every student will find a vibrant, open and inclusive Christian community where they can explore faith and be inspired to put faith into action. Here's a handy guide to setting up a group in your area.

Local SCM groups are the life of the movement. They are ecumenical student-led communities who meet regularly to explore their faith and share in fellowship. Each group has the freedom to decide what they want to do and how they want to organise themselves. Some groups focus on discussion and theology, others pray and worship together. Some are committed to campaigning and activism, and some do a mix of all of these. What they have in common is that they are inclusive, welcoming places for exploring faith. Our staff team can help you to start up a group and will be happy to discuss your ideas and offer practical support too. You can get in touch by emailing the office

Here's our easy ten-step guide to starting a group:

1. Look around – what is needed at your uni or college? What is your vision for the group - when and how often do you want to meet, and what do you want to do when you get together? Think about what other groups already exist, on and off campus. Is there an existing group at the university that could affiliate to SCM? Are there any student groups at local churches, or does the Chaplaincy have a group? Take a look at our directory, SCM Connect, to see what is happening in your area.

2. Get people involved. You only need two or three enthusiastic people to get things started. You might find others who would like to help set up a group through your chaplaincy community or local churches. Your Students' Union might know people interested in setting up a group, and the SCM office can put you in touch with other SCM members locally too. Plan a simple launch event to bring people together. You could organise a lunch event, or a meal out, to bring people together.

3. Find a space to meet. Think about where your group will meet on a regular basis. You could try your Students' Union, chaplaincy or local churches – all may be able to offer free meeting space. Find somewhere that is centrally located, easy to find and has a welcoming atmosphere. If you want to provide food and drinks you'll need somewhere that will enable you to do this. Speak to other faith groups on campus if there are any and tell them what you will be doing. Try to avoid your meetings clashing with other events and other societies if you can.

4. Get organised. Think about what tasks need doing and how you'll share out the work. Involve everyone who is interested. Most groups have a committee of around three people who each take on a role to run the group. If you want your group to be affiliated to your Students' Union find out what the process is - they can support you with getting organised too.

5. Plan a programme. This is best done in collaboration with all the people who are interested in being involved. You could have a mix of social events, discussions, film nights, speakers and trips. Or you could pick a theme for the term and link all your sessions together. Do you want to include prayer, worship, Bible study, campaigning or volunteering? If you want help with planning your programme or want to see what other groups have done then do get in touch - we can help! We can also come to run workshops and bible studies with your group, or help you to run a welcome evening for new members. Book a visit here.

6. Get noticed. Make sure people know you exist! Word of mouth is essential; invite friends along and anyone who has expressed an interest in getting involved. Put up posters and leave flyers around campus. Make use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to advertise your events, and ask the chaplaincy and Students' Union if they can help spread the word on campus. You could even ask local churches to put something on their newsletter too.

7. Keep the momentum. Once you are up and running, keep communicating and spreading the word! Keep your website or social media up to date. Send out regular emails to members, reminding them of events that are coming up. If you have notice board space then update it each term with info about your events. Make sure that those who are organising the group are meeting regularly to share tasks and ideas. Involve new people so that they feel part of the group and find something they can participate in. If your founding members are graduating soon you’ll need to think ahead and plan a smooth handover to a new committee or planning group. 

8. Connect to the national movement. SCM is a grassroots organisation, and there are lots of groups like yours up and down the country. Why not bring your group to a local or national event so that they can connect with others? Please also tell members in your group about becoming a member of the national movement. 

9. Collaborate. Who can you work with? Once your group has formed friendships and found its identity then you can start working with others on campus. You could organise a joint event with another faith group e.g. an evening on prayer with the Islamic Society. You could plan a vigil for World AIDS Day involving members from the local community, or arrange a day trip to another SCM group in your region.

10.Stay in touch! We love it when our groups let us know what they are doing so we can share with the national movement. Send in a short report of what you've been up to for Movement magazine, and share your events on on our Facebook page.

Resource type: 
How To Guide
Resource theme: 
Running a Group
Church Resources
Chaplaincy Resources