In case you have not noticed, it’s back to school time! School supplies are front and center in all of the stores. Workers have been busily preparing newly waxed floors to welcome students back to their halls of learning. And traffic is increasing after a summer of easier commutes comes to an end.
As we think about all of the back to school activities and focuses, we can’t forget about the millions of college students that are descending upon our college towns over the next few weeks. These young adults are finding their way to large state university campuses and local community college campuses to take the next steps of their education.
As churches, whether we are in a college town or not, we can’t risk missing the opportunity to connect with the college students in our communities. What are some ways that your church can be intentional about reaching and equipping the college students already in your church? What about those new students that are coming to your community for the first time?
- Be welcoming.
Think about ways that your church can specifically connect with and welcome college students in your community.
- Hand out water near the local campus or on campus on the day that students move in or on the first day of school. (Be sure to get advance permission from the university.) There’s nothing like a friendly face wishing someone a good day and a nice cold bottled water. Finally, don’t forget to wear a t-shirt, button, or hat identifying your church so they know where you are from.
- Be intentional about talking to college students that may be shopping at the local stores buying their supplies for their new school year.
- If your church has a sign in front of your church, put a “Welcome to” posting – it shows you are glad they are in town and that you want to be a part of the local university.
- Have a college Sunday school class or small group.
This is not just for the students that are new to your community, but also for the current college students and brand-new college students coming up from your church’s student ministry. Find people in your church that are going to be great connections for college students. Doing college ministry is not for everyone – but there are people in your church that are fun, can be great teachers of the Word, and love the local university. These individuals would make super college Sunday school teachers or small group leaders.
Launching a Sunday school class or small group sometimes takes some time to get rolling if your church does not currently have a college-specific group meeting. However, once college students know that your church cares about getting to know them and walk with them while they are students, they’ll get connected to this group and to your church.
Don’t forget to have a consistent curriculum designed to engage young adults. Check out Lifeway.com/YoungAdults for resources that would be helpful for a college gathering.
- Pray for college students.
Whether you are in a college community or not, pray for the 22 million college students that will be walking on college campuses in North America this fall. Pray that God will move in the lives of students and awaken within this generation a hunger and desire to know God without abandon.
- If you live in a college community prayer walk the local campus. Pray specifically for God to work in the lives of students who will attend there and for Him to use your church to reach and equip them.
- Join with churches all over North America on the last Thursday of February for the National Collegiate Day of Prayer. Adopt a campus locally and a campus in an unreached area through the National Collegiate Day of Prayer website closer to the date collegiatedayofprayer.org
- Join me on Facebook or Twitter to pray for a specific college campus in North America every day.
The new school year is upon us. Don’t let the days pass by without taking intentional steps to connect college students near you!
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 on Twitter: @MarkWhitt70.