Connecting With College Students Part 1
Written by Caleb Norris
The transition from high school to college is undoubtedly tough for many young adults these days. Following the final high school summer break, responsibilities and stress levels skyrocket, while financial stability and social involvement plummet. What’s more, this period is usually the first time when young Christians lose close connection with their home church. College is seldom an easy spiritual journey, and it can easily turn a devout follower of Jesus into an apathetic outsider.
With so many young people losing sight of God in college, the question seems to be “how do we, as the church, effectively minister to these young people, in order to both reconnect them with the Father and prevent them from straying further away from Him?”
Of course, a broad question generally lends itself to a broad solution. Therefore, the church does not, and probably never will, have a defined formula for ministry to college students. But for the most part, there are a few key characteristics and practices that garner success in fostering the ministry’s growth with young adults. This article will focus on two key types of churches: churches relatively close to a college campus, and churches with members in various colleges around the state or country.
Churches With Local Colleges
For a church within relatively close proximity to a college or university, there is a great opportunity to minister to its students. The idea for such a church is to find these young adults and foster their faith first through an outreach stage, followed by a community building stage. Beginning with outreach, events such as potluck dinners, volleyball tournaments, and church concerts are great ways to form a connection with local students and foster relationships between other students and church members. In the outreach stage, the goal is to bring students in and show them a good time.
The local college’s academic calendar provides a great schedule of potential dates where certain outreach events would be well received. Another good opportunity is finding and partnering with on-campus ministries willing to share their resources or communication services. Recently we formed a partnership with UKirk. Find a UKirk on your local college or university by visiting the schools religious organizations or going to www.ukirk.org
Once the outreach stage has garnered attendance of college students, the next stage: community building can begin. This stage consists of meaningful events such as bible studies, service projects, and small group discussions in an effort to spur the students to grow as Christians and as a community. Once this community is formed and strengthened, leadership will rise from within and fellowship will keep more and more students entering the fold. With successful outreach and community building, before you know it, your church will hopefully have an active and thriving young adult program.
Churches With Young Adults in College
If a church does not reside in a college town, there is a good chance that some of its members attend college anywhere from 1 hour to 12 hours away. While these students are scattered about and far from home, it does not mean the church must stop ministering to them. Letting its college-aged members know they are loved goes a long way, and this love can be shown through thoughtful care packages, letters, and simply prayer.
In addition, a church can create a Facebook group for its young adults in an effort to keep them in touch with one another and continue to build homegrown friendships. With successful online communication and fellowship, these students can further involve themselves with their church by attending mission trips or retreats on summer or spring breaks.
Put simply, college students have a lot going on in their lives, but this does not mean that they don’t have time to be ministered to. Using these tips and the countless other young adult resources out there, such as www.EAresources.org, any church can provide a meaningful ministry to young adults in their community or church family.