Many churches are seeking ways to continue their relational influence in the lives of students who attend colleges away from home. Ministry to college students can cover many areas. In this post, we will be looking specifically at a few ways churches can help students continue to walk in faith with their church community as they experience God in a new city.
This post is the second in a three-part piece about ministry to those who are walking with Jesus in their post-high school and pre-family-of-their-own years.
Our church seeks first to provide a bridge between our students in college and local churches near to them. We start by reaching out to local pastors with a letter from our pastor and a $10 Starbucks gift card. We share a bit about our student and invite the pastor to partner with us to begin a relationship with the student. This has yielded mixed results.
Facilitating Connections in a New City
For a few of our students, the pastors have had the staffing or the capacity to introduce themselves and their church to our student. In these cases, the students have become a beloved mascot of these local churches. One student can walk to the local church community that has a missional focus for students from the college she attends. Another student is attending college across the country, and that congregation has a rotation of church members who drive out to her college and pick her up each Sunday. This has allowed her to get to know more people and allowed for more engagement in building the relationship. In this case, the student is not at a CUS college and the local congregation is a huge blessing in so many ways! Seeing each of these students gain relationships with new church members has been marvelous and a unique blessing for each of them.
In two other examples, however, there was not a response from the pastor or local congregation. The students did not have cars and were not able to go to the local church. However, both of the students looked for and found campus Christian communities that helped them continue to walk in faith with campus friends.
Care Packages from Home
To all of the students who left home and moved to college, our church sends three care packages a year. The first is sent seven weeks after classes begin for the first wave of students. It contains a few comfort items like mac and cheese, something homemade, and a personalized note or card. It also includes a few needs such as quarters for laundry, an extra phone-charging cord, and a devotion geared for college students.
Our other two packages are lesser in substance but are heavy in encouragement! Church members have been wonderfully generous in praying for students and writing to them, encouraging their faith and reminding them of the goodness of God.
A New Mission Field
As our church has been intentional about our ministry to college students, we have become more aware of different ways we can reach college students local to our own church community. We are brainstorming ways for our congregational members to see local students as our mission field and put our time and efforts where our mouths are: groups are brainstorming ways we can reach out to any of the nine local colleges in our immediate area. Perhaps we will soon be setting up our own ride-sharing group for local college students!
Does your congregation do intentional ministry toward college students? If so, what nuggets of wisdom and experience can you share in the comments?
Looking for a book to strengthen a college student?