Don’t you wish all of life operated on semesters? The natural break would provide great opportunities to get your oil changed, drop off the dry-cleaning, connect with friends, sleep until 8, and eat more than a little pie. Whether your life benefits from a semester break or not, the time between semesters provides a wonderful opportunity to intentionally connect with the college students from your church who are home for Christmas. With Lifeway Research discovering that 70 percent of teens who attended a Protestant church regularly (twice a month or more) in high school stopped attending for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, significant connections with your college students definitely matter!
Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Picture Party. Host your homegrown students for pictures and pizza. Have each student bring three photos from the prior semester and three photos of favorite church memories like VBS and Centrifuge. Students will enjoy sharing their college experiences with life-long friends and will have big fun remembering positive church experiences. This is also a great chance to encourage your students to get involved in a local church and Baptist Collegiate Ministry in their new setting.
- Saturday Serve. Gather your students to serve a portion of their hometown. Whether your community is large or small, organize a half-day service project. Service is great way to keep students connected to church. From the rescue mission to nursing home visits, this time will be meaningful for all.
- Worship Leadership. Students will love leading their church family through prayer, testimony, music, being door greeters, etc. It will be a great reminder to collegians that they are not “out of sight and out of mind” and a great reminder to the congregation of the significant changes collegians face while at college.
- Christmas Cards and Collegiate. Send each collegian a personal Christmas card with notice that your church will send them a year subscription to Collegiate magazine. They will enjoy the thought provoking Bible study and the relevant articles each quarter, but will benefit greatly from receiving love from their home church in a tangible way.
- Prayer Potluck. Enlist senior adult prayer partners for each college student. Have a potluck one Sunday following morning worship. Have the senior adults bring the food and the college students bring the appetites. Provide conversation starters at each table to assist the senior adult and their pre-assigned collegiate prayer partner in getting to know one another. Students miss intergeneration relationships, both groups are usually awake at 4 a.m., and everyone needs prayer support. It’s a win-win!
Christmas provides a great opportunity for your church to connect with collegians. Your church’s college group may reflect the national statistics. As many as 70 percent may not currently be active in church, with only 30 percent still involved. The semester break is a great time to make contact with both groups. It usually takes more than a little bit of effort to gather cell phone numbers, set up a Facebook group, or find current addresses, but it is so worth it. Now, go change your oil!