So first of all thank all of you so much for your prayer and support as I have been working in Children’s Ministry for the last couple of months. I has been a very fun and awesome time as we have been getting more kids one by one and having a grand old time in Sunday School.
I have this dream of college students coming back to the church. Studies show that roughly 800,000 college age students leave the faith and church. Reasons? Because the church does not reach out to them, because they have suffered some kind of hurt from the church, simply because they did not feel welcome. I have this beautiful image of college students lining pews, of college students taking the next step in their faith, and serving in local churches. Every college student has a calling- wouldn’t it be awesome to see each using their gifts to further God’s Kingdom. That is the kind of culture that this world needs.
How do we make this happen? I have no idea. But I think that a good start would be to make churches more welcoming to college students. It was only a year ago that I had started this new school and was deciding whether to make the drive back home to my home church or to find a new church. I had a hard time because at a lot of churches I could slip in and sit and then I would leave without a single person having talked to me other than the greeter at the door. (Can I just say that Greeters have the greatest job and the greatest responsibility! I love greeters because there is nothing like visiting a church, getting a nice firm handshake and being told “I am glad that you are here this Sunday.)
- There has to be community. Plain and simple the thing that really grabbed me about the church I am at now is that I visited and enjoyed the service. As I got up to leave at the end of the service me and my friend were grabbed up by a random group of people and they welcomed us right in where we could eat some food and talk. When a church does not have any fellowship or community then quite simply in my mind first of all it missed a very vital part of what church is supposed to be, and secondly why would I want to stay and plug in if there is no community to plug into.
How do I know that community works? Since beginning to attend this church I have brought roughly 12 people to visit with me. These people are from all sorts of denominations and come from everywhere on the map. 10 of these people have stayed and continue to attend. Most are being plugged in to volunteer in a ministry at the church. Community. Works.
I think that once we fix this problem of college students being disconnected from the community- or there not being much of a community at a church at all- that we will see a lot more growth from the college age kids (not to mention in general). While this is not the only reason that college age kids leave the church I believe that it is a huge factor! As a college student myself I can tell you that it is what I based my church decision on.
So how do you encourage community that includes college students?
- Make sure that visitors (all not just college students) feel welcome at your church. If you have a lot of visitors and minimal amounts of people stay that means that there is something going wrong that is preventing guests from returning to the church.
- Make sure that sermons apply to those who are single, married, young, old, children, adult, professional, homeless, hurt, hungry, spiritually fed. In short- everyone. God’s word is meant for everyone his message of love crosses all boundaries make sure your message is so founded in God’s word that is does the same.
- Have a fellowship event specifically for college students to connect with other church members.
- Finally, don’t underestimate inter generational ministry. Many of us college students really value the wisdom and kindness that we glean from those older and younger members of our church.
Just the random musings of a college student.