Jobs. Classes. Friends. Intramural Sports. Small Group Bible Study. Internship. Volunteer at Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
College students and young adults have a lot on their plate. Some of these commitments are necessary (it’s expensive to go to college!), some of these commitments reflect personal priorities, and others are just fun. Then, there are those commitments that are made simply because it’s hard to say “no”.
Within our ministries we all have students that are way overcommitted and have nominal participation within the overall focus of our collegiate/young adult groups. For many of these young adults, there is a genuine desire to be more involved—but the reality of a list of commitments prevents them from doing so.
How do we approach ministry with college students and young adults that are overcommitted? Here are 3 thoughts to remember:
1. Don’t make the ministry you lead all about the events
We often fill our ministry calendar with a number of events and activities that can occupy every spare moment. Let’s keep them busy! Let’s keep them involved! For the ones in your group that may be committed to a number of other responsibilities, the number of events that are scheduled in your ministry may seem overwhelming. Schedule events that are purposeful and an opportunity to build groupness. Event-driven ministry can be very frustrating to young adults that have a lot on their plate. Allow room for spontaneous gatherings to happen among people in your group. Oftentimes, these are some of the most fruitful times of fellowship to build unity among the group.
2. For those young adults that are overcommitted – NEVER forget them! You may have a college student or young adult that may go a few weeks between showing up for small group or a Friday night skating party. Make sure you keep in touch with those that have a lot on their plate. A simple text or voicemail goes a long way in helping that individual know that they are not forgotten. Make a mental note of who has missed a week or two of events. Be deliberate to let them know that you miss them and that their presence is valued whenever they can join the group. Don’t scold them for not attending something – the time you scheduled that planning meeting, may have been the only hour that person had to rest that day.
3. There is a time and a place for confronting someone that is TOO OVERCOMMITTED! There comes a time when you might need to confront someone in your group that continues to drop the ball because of being overcommitted. Sometimes a college student or young adult simply does not know how to say “No.” Help these students learn how to prioritize the important aspects of life and how they can realistically say “no” to certain opportunities. Sometimes an overcommitted young adult needs someone to be honest with them and give them permission to say “no” to those things that may be clouding their walk.
We all have individuals in our groups that have such great potential, but because of a choice or because of necessity have overcommitted their lives. How we respond to these individuals is extremely important as we strive to point them toward a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus every step of the journey. Overcommitment can lead to a life that is unfulfilled and lacking of power and relationship.
Model a life of committing to things that are realistic and do-able for the season of life you are in. College students and young adults need you to model a life that is well-balanced and healthy.
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark via Twitter.