BY HANNA JACKSON |
How do we keep in touch?
How do we make them want to come back?
What’s going on with our college students?
These and many more are questions that cross our minds as each year high school seniors graduate, leaving to enter the workforce, military, or college. While it might seem like it’s a lost cause at times, keeping up with your college age students is very important!
There is not a quick fix or an easy answer to how to keep in touch with college age students, but it’s important that your church tries. Below is a list of ways to stay in touch with college age students. There are many ideas out there but here are just a few to see what might fit for your church.
Ideas on How Congregations Can Support Their College Age Students
- Adopt a Student Program- A family, Sunday School Class, or other group adopts a student who is at college. This family or group keeps in touch with the student by sending notes, care packages, birthday/Christmas cards, etc. while the student is away. Also, makes sure the student is greeted when back in town for the holidays.
- Recognize departing students- Have a brief send-off during worship early in August before they leave for college. A similar recognition should also be used for those who are not going to school, but entering the workforce, military, etc.
- A seasonal Sunday School or Bible study class– If you don’t have a regular class for these students, welcome them back by offering a seasonal group for them, mainly during winter and summer breaks.
- Seasonal activities during school breaks-Host activities such as seeing Christmas lights, having a game night together, or getting lunch together after Sunday worship. Find ways to reunite as a community when the students are home.
- Gather college addresses and other contact information- Make use of this by sending church newsletters and leaflets. Also, make sure to pass this information to the College Age Ministry Coordinator at the Board of Cooperative Ministries.
- Include college age students on prayer lists and chains in the church- This little act can make a world of difference. Make sure the students are told that they are being prayed for by the church.
- Welcome returning students during breaks-Make sure they are recognized in worship, even if it is a brief statement during announcements. Having the students see they are loved and missed is important.
- Student section in newsletter– Ask a student to write a brief paragraph for the church newsletter reflecting on their experiences. This can be a rotating column that not only includes college age students, but all students at the church. That way when the students leave for school, writing for the newsletter is not a burden or new experience for them.
- Have them serve- Make sure you offer the students the opportunity to serve at a lovefeast or some other service to help keep them connected to the congregation. Don’t assume they are too busy or don’t want to be involved, ask! The act of including them can make them feel loved and appreciated even if they can’t serve.
These are just a few ideas on how to stay in touch, there are many more. Try many different approaches to your college age students as some things will be beneficial to some, while other ideas will be helpful to other students. Make sure to not get discouraged with college age ministry, these students and young adults are going through a lot and need your love and prayers. While you might not get the feedback you desire, you have no idea how these simple acts are impacting these students.
About the Author
Hanna Jackson is the Special Projects Manager for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). She attends Calvary Moravian Church in Winston Salem. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, baking, and crafting. Contact her at [email protected]
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