Working in a church where most of your students go away to college can be bring some unique aspects to ministry – especially over the holidays. And even if “most” don’t move away, those that leave will likely be coming home over winter break.
So, what do we do to connect with them while they’re in town? Do we put an event together for everyone all at once or do we just try to connect with a few? Well, I’m not sure there’s a correct answer to that because I don’t think it’s an either-or issue. But, I’m assuming that you would at least be connecting with a few one-on-one. So, I want to walk through a few things we should keep in mind as we reconnect with students while they’re home for the holidays.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is the awkwardness they may be feeling in some of their relationships. Some kept their dating relationship going even though they were long distance because they were living in different cities or states. They may be excited to see each other, but it doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t a bit awkward. There is a lot that happened in their lives apart from each other that, well, is simply impossible to share.
And this awkwardness doesn’t stop with dating relationships either. It’s often with best friends, parents, and maybe even you. The fact is the last few months were packed with new experiences, new feelings, confusion, and clarity. To try to articulate everything they went through emotionally, physically and psychologically is daunting, to say the least. I would recommend seeking out some time with those coming home for coffee or lunch, but I would also recommend at least four things to keep in mind as you reconnect with students while they’re back home:
Ask direct/specific questions. Asking an open ended question like, “So, how was your semester?” can be overwhelming and lead to them feeling like they can’t connect with you. To think through and articulate everything in that short of time is too much, and your students can leave feeling like their life is too separated from you. I’ve found it’s much better to ask specifically about their roommate, favorite class, closest friend at school, involvement on campus ministry (or lack of), favorite or most frustrating class, or even if it’s a bit awkward for them to come back home…things like that. These types of direct and specific questions allows you to really connect, on at least some levels.
Next post will list 3 more ideas…