I had breakfast with some of the students who graduated from high school this past Spring. It was a little sad because this would be my last time with them for a while. This week and next they begin leaving for college and when program starts up again this fall they won’t be there. Most of these students I’ve known since they were in 7th grade so to see them 18 ready to take on the world is exciting. From talking with them over the summer I know most of them are nervous about college social life because the frat/sorority scene doesn’t seem too appealing. I’m not naive to think they will experience college free of temptation, free of situations where their beliefs, values and faith will be challenged. I’m sure parents are more worried about their students than I am; however, I want to make sure that these students are set-up for success so that they can focus on their studies, their relationships, and their lives. So what’s the plan, how do we continue to minister to our students after they leave home?
I’ve started talking with one of my student ministers about this situation. For her this is a close to heart subject because her daughter is one of those leaving home for college. The first step we plan on taking is to look at the incoming seniors. In our church we have a strong tendency to push freshmen small groups; however, I think a lot of energy this year needs to go into the seniors. Granted they won’t have four years to grow if they are just joining a small group; however, it’s never to late to start building the habit of accountable relationships. And those relationships will be essential as they make this transition.
The second plan is to create a network for the students who have left our area to stay in touch with what’s going on in our local church. We’re creating a Facebook page that will link them to our sight, link them to our messages, our small group resources, give them a chance to still feel connected to a local church, especially if they are struggling with that at college. Another thing we are looking to do is have the students connected with a student minister (i.e. their former small group leader) who will be there for them, to talk, pray, etc. We don’t want our students to get the impression that because high school ends, so does our obligation to love and serve them.
Right now, that’s all we have. In regards to launching a full blown college ministry at Church of the Nativity, that’s something on my heart, just don’t have the people, resources, time and space to do it all. I would like to make it a 2 year plan. My hope is to give college students the opportunity to connect or stay connected in a local church.
I know that many of us wish or hope to have college ministries and a few of us actually have that happening.
What are some of the steps and initiatives that you are taking to create ministry for college age students?
What are some of the obstacles you see in creating or running a college age ministry?