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Looking outwards in lockdown


Here you are in your room. Stuck with the four walls around you, the slowly diminishing bag of coffee in the corner, whatever random food stuffs are left in the cupboard before you deem it “necessary” to go shopping, and your laptop and phone. Gold! That precious laptop and phone. The swords to defeat all boredom brought on by a Coronavirus lockdown. Could God possibly use simply these things, to see us still build community with a hope of our friends finding Jesus? Well…let’s see!

Looking outwards in lockdown

The laptop booms out the latest Coronavirus news, rumours, expert opinions and repeated stories over again, as you lie back scrolling through your phone for the 15th time that morning.  Day 2 of lockdown and it already feels like weeks since we last were sitting on campus in a lecture with our mates.  Ugh, when will this end?

If you’d offered me a gift of more time in the week, a month ago in the midst of busy–ness, I would have jumped at the chance!  Now that “more time” drains slowly down the plughole, and happily gurgles as if to remind me of its leaving.

Using Time Wisely (writes Helen Blakey, staff in Connacht)

You might be loving the extra time at home – it may feel like an extended summer break! Or maybe, the days are looming in front of you, and you’re wondering how to fill the week. It is tempting to use our new schedules in ways that prioritise our comfort. However, we have an incredible opportunity to invest this time for God’s glory and to bless others. While in confinement, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. In every circumstance, his concern was the advance of the Gospel. (Phil 1.12). This week consider how you could ‘value others above yourselves’ (Phil 2.3) and generously use some of the 1440 minutes each day to ‘make the most of every opportunity’. (Col 4.5)  

Here’s a sample schedule which may be of use to adapt and some ideas at the bottom of other ways to enjoy looking outwards as individuals and as a CU.  You’ll find your own mental health and life thrives far more for it!


 Pre–9am (yup, someone told me that time exists each day)

If you’re like me, you’re not great at forming habits.  Well, ones focused on Bible reading, prayer and intimacy with Jesus anyway.  So why not grab a few from CU and go through the same devotional together?  Or all listen to the same short thought in the mornings before you start scrolling?  It’s great for those without Christian family/housemates, and realistic that we’ll need accountability in a positive way too!

It might be too early to use your precious “one exercise outside” card for the day (if you’re in the north), but if you’re into fitness, why not share a workout with a mate, or join together on a video–call for some hilarious YouTube workout – great ways to have a laugh, keep fit, and connect with friends each morning!

9.00am – 11.30am

It may feel like the summer, but I’m guessing most of us still have our courses to do.  Setting realistic, bitesize chunks of time to work in, will help you focus and get things done.  Why not schedule an online video hangout with your coursemate(s) to keep each other focused?  Take a break half–way through to catchup, have some craic and make a cuppa though!

11.30am – 12.30pm

Right, you’ve spotted the sun shining, so it’s time to grab that person you live with a go for a short walk somewhere local.  Or if you’ve no–one to walk with, why not make it a prayer walk by yourself?  Make a list of 10 things to be thankful for, a few campus mates to pray for, and something to say sorry to God for, off the back of what He’s been teaching you that morning.  And voila – let’s get walking!

12.30pm – 1.00pm 

Time for lunch.  Let’s face it.  There’s perhaps nothing spectacular in–house today for lunch, but make sure you get plenty of fruit and vegetables when you do get to a shop!

1.00pm – 2.00pm (the dead–hour after lunch!)

Let’s get creative!  There’s soo much more within our four walls of our house than we realise, than Netflix and our phones!  And with Jesus as Lord over everything in life, there’s lots we can do to His glory.  Painting?  Art?  Story writing?  Music?  Reading?

While we’re at it, what would it look like to create community as we do these?  Make something for a friend?  Write a postcard to a friend?  Video–call a friend to sing, dance or make music together?  

This week, having done my #ToiletRollChallenge online and tagged my mates to follow, I did a few other things.  I sent a book I really enjoyed, to the guy in CU who only just started coming this semester.  And I listened to a newly released album of a hip–hop artist my best non–Christian friend really likes, while I did some washing.  I mean, I’ve no interest in hip–hop whatsoever, but I’m intrigued by why my friend likes it so much, and thought I’d give it a listen and chat next time I see him.


Ok, ok – back to our courses it is!  As well as those regular breaks, why not phone a coursemate to ask them a question, instead of hunting Google for ages?  As long as it’s not always one–way asking (which they may object to!), it’s a great way to show our vulnerability and connect with others.

4.30pm – 5.30pm

Time to look outwards to serving others.  

  • Do you know if everyone on your street or in your church has the support they need?  Perhaps drop your church leader a line, or pop a note through neighbours’ doors offering to connect everyone in a WhatsApp (we may not be able to help everyone, but we can connect people to each other and do what we can).
  • Look up how the CU movement or mission partner in another country is doing – how is their country coping?  Spend some time praying for them.  It’s always good to remind ourselves of those elsewhere, who are maybe struggling far more. is a great place to start.
  • join a CU prayer meeting online – don’t get overwhelmed by every need in the world – let’s pray for our campus, our friends, coursemates and things on our hearts.  We are a missional community for the campus, after all!

5.30pm – 7.00pm  Dinner–time!

So there’s no pasta or rice to eat, but you’ve got other ingredients, right?!  Why not use this season as one where you learn new recipes?  Or if you love your cooking, why not have a Ready–Steady–Cook challenge with a few mates on videocall, giving yourself a certain number of minutes to turn agreed ingredients into something tasty!  Sharing food with others in your house is even more appreciated when we don’t go shopping so much!  Why not donate that precious last bit of pasta to a housemate and experiment with something else? 


Ok – let’s blitz this – final study time!


(Hannah, Staff in Munster, writes:)

Social time!  The more people our non–Christian friends know and love who believe the crazy claims that Jesus makes, the less crazy they start to sound, so let’s keep finding ways to merge our “worlds”! In a time of isolation, this can be even more welcome!  Some students in Munster have been building community all year through their Dungeon and Dragons group, and continue this using online games, on platforms like

Could you use these types of things to bring friends from CU and your course friends together? What would suit you and your crowd? Movie/Netflix watch–parties online? Book club? Zoom quiz?  Zoom board game?


It’s good to get 8 hours sleep, and to turn off screens before we go to bed.  But you’ll know what time is best for you – but do stick to it!  Nothing worse than finding yourself back scrolling again hours after you thought you were going to bed.

    Now you’ve built some community, let’s think of how we can engage our friend’s questions and share our faith: here.

    And if you didn’t catch it already, here’s some ideas the CUs are already doing around the island.