Last year high-school-senior Andrew ushered, played the guitar and served as a LIT in your church Awana club.
This year Andrew has disappeared.
Well, not actually disappeared, but disappeared from sight.
Andrew is now in college.
We hear a lot about kids going away to college and not returning to church once they graduate.
But as a parent/leader/church attender, you can help your college kids stay connected to your church.
1. Say “good-bye.” That might sound kind of elementary, but make an effort to say you’ll be praying for them as they head off to school. And ask about the school. In what subject will they be majoring? Is the campus in a city, small town or in the middle of a cornfield? Let them know you care and that you’re interested.
2. Write/email. Kids like mail – especially when they’re hundreds of miles away from home. Many churches put college addresses in their worship folders or on a bulletin board. Write to the college students and get your kids involved, too. Did Megan babysit your kids? Have your children draw her pictures or write her notes. Megan will love the attention and connection with home. Send news items about the town: the fire at the corner restaurant, the new stores at the mall. Anything will be of interest. Send the student a verse that has meant a lot to you and tell him that you’ll continue to pray.
If you’re a leader, have your clubbers make cards for the college kids. This would be especially fun if the student served as an LIT in club. Let him or her know you care. And think how fun it would be for her to go to her PO Box and find an envelope with 40 Sparky-designed cards!
3. Check on care packages. Send the student a care package filled with granola bars, toothpaste, soap – anything he might need. Check with the college – some provide care packages put together right on campus. Or, some colleges will provide a birthday cake for the student; you pay a set price and they do the work. But don’t wait for a birthday or special day to send something special, do this any time. Sometimes that unexpected treat right before a big exam is exactly what the student needs.
4. Make good use of their at-home time. If they’re back in town for an extended Christmas or spring break, invite them to do the Large Group Lesson or play the guitar. Give them opportunity to reconnect with the ministries they served in before college.
5. Ask them for the details. One college student said, “People always ask me how I’m doing. I answer ‘”fine,” ‘and that’s the end of the conversation. They don’t know our cross country team went to finals out in California. They don’t know that each week I teach a class in the inner city. Most people simply don’t take the time to ask.
6. Welcome his friends. Often college kids come home with friends in tow. Welcome the kids to your church. Get to know their names and where they’re from. That’s another way to show you care about the student herself.
7. Visit him. Is your family passing by the college on vacation? Stop by and offer to take the student out to lunch or dinner. Most college students would truly enjoy getting away from cafeteria food for a meal or two … and being connected with home.
8. Adopt-a-student. Taking everything we’ve talked about into account, why doesn’t your family adopt a student? Have the student over to your house before he leaves so you can introduce him to your kids. Then write, email, bake cookies, send money for laundry or vending machines … Be creative. Make this student be your project for the year.