I live in a college town. A few weeks ago, I met a young girl who will be attending college here this fall, so I asked her if anyone from her home church recommended a good church to her while she completes her studies. To my amazement she replied that no one from her home church, including her parents or pastors, had said anything to her about finding a good church in the town where she is attending college. Of course, I suggested that she should try our church; but that conversation left me wondering.
Are pastors and youth pastors talking to their church’s graduating high school seniors about getting plugged in to a good church while they are away from home attending college?
Here are 5 practical suggestions for ministering to your church’s college students who are away from your church while they are in college.
- Encourage your church’s college students to find a good church immediately when they arrive on campus!
If nothing else, take the time to talk to the college students from your church who are away from home about finding a good, Bible-preaching church in the town where they are attending school. You might also want to take the time to investigate the churches in the area where your students are living to make informed recommendations to them. This will not take a long time with the wealth of information available on the Internet. Make sure your young adults are plugged in to a good church nearby the college or university they are attending. Believe me; this is also important if your students are attending a Christian college or even a Bible college. Experts on this age group are saying that college-age habits are usually formed within the first 2 weeks they are away from home; so this suggestion is very, very important for their spiritual growth and development while they are away in college.
- Stay in touch with your church’s college students encouraging them in their walk with God.
Your church’s college-age young adults are leaving home sometime during the next couple of weeks to begin this year’s academic schedule. Make sure you know their mailing address, e-mail address, and cell phone number so that you can stay in touch with them while they are away in college. Put it on your personal schedule to send them an e-mail or a text message just to find out how they are doing in college and to let them know that people from their home church are praying regularly for them.
- Send them a “love gift” from home within 2 weeks of when they arrive on campus.
Make sure your church sends them a care package (home-made chocolate chip cookies are a must for college students!) in a couple of weeks. You might also want to send them a gift card for a free pizza. Why don’t you recruit a team of church people to handle this important project? There’s nothing like the encouragement from receiving a love gift from people back at home.
- Suggest ways they can stay connected with their home church while they are away at college.
College students often feel out-of-touch while they are away from their home church. Perhaps it would be a good idea to send each of them your church’s weekly church bulletin and prayer request list. Put this simple practice on a tickler file as a reminder to send them this information on a regular basis.
- Recruit a team of people in your church to pray specifically for those students while they are in college.
I can’t tell you how important it is for today’s college students to know that caring people back home are praying regularly for them while they are away at school. Put together a complete list of all of the young adults from your church who are away in college (and in the military, for that matter) and add them to your church’s prayer list. Then make sure you remind your church people to pray for them regularly and faithfully. This simple act of prayer will be a real source of encouragement to your church’s students who are studying away from home.
Please don’t forget that these students are still your church’s young people. Your church has invested so much in their lives during their formative years as children and youth. Don’t drop the ball on them while they are away in college!