article.2013.04.16Graduation! Your amazing students whom you have loved and cared for the past few years are heading out to the great unknown of college, the work force, their parents basement, or a strange combination of all three! But because moving away to college is such a big deal, those are the students we are going to focus on this week.

As students leave your ministry the temptation is to completely set them free and while this is the typical model in most churches, what would it look like if you extended your influence in their lives to cover this challenging transition? Here are a few practical ideas how.

Help them find a church.
For students who move away, the number one in a new city and starting a new life is finding a church home. Oftentimes the struggle is I just can’t find a church like ours, which is flattering, but a dangerous position for a student to be in their freshman year. So help! Google the churches within a couple miles of the campus and see which one would feel familiar to them. Visit their Web site, or give them a call and ask a few questions, and pass the information along to your student.

Here’s an idea: Find out where your seniors are heading for college, and ask a key volunteer to do a little bit of church research for each community and, as a graduation gift, give an Awesome churches near your school packet to each graduate!

Give them a resource.
Help them in this transition with a devotional resource or a letter a day from a member of your church with a verse to encourage them. Okay, we have never seen that one done, either, but how cool would it be! Don’t let students dangle in limbo spiritually; challenge them to continue in the spiritual disciplines and increase their faith in God even when they are in an environment where it will be challenged daily.

Check in periodically.
Being remembered is huge. Too often students leave for school and leave their mentors, parents, and youth workers behind. That is by design, and one of the catalysts that force students to think for themselves as they barrel into adulthood, but it also leaves them vulnerable to attack.

A quick Skype call, a phone call on the weekend, even a weekend trip to see them could be huge. You never know the power of a simple text; it would probably mean the world to your students 400 miles from home.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Thought this was a good observation from Stephanie Caro over at SmallChurchYouthMinistry.com – we may be telling students all of the time to “bring their friends to church” but hardly equip them to actually make such a huge ask. Here’s a little clip of her thoughts, head there for the complete article:

1 - Tell your students to call you ahead of time with the heads-up that they’re bringing a friend. You can make sure you’re ready and not running around setting up.

2 - Ask the students to pick their friends up instead of meeting them at the location so that the member can show the friend the secret to knowing where to find the youth room. I’ve seen some that were harder to find than what Nicolas Cage went through finding the National Treasure. (Throw up some signs, people!)

3 - Teach the students how to introduce their friends around to the others, where to sit, how to jump in on games, not to abandon their friends, etc.

4 - Have your students go over the typical evening’s schedule with their friends, so the friends feel like they’ve got the 411. A list of that night’s time frame might be nice to put up near the check-in table. I just use a dry erase board.

JG



Genius! I loved this blog post from Paul Martin about making retreats more effective. One of his ideas there is ripe for stealing and claiming as your own (I do that all the time – doh!). Check this one out below, and head there for the rest:

5. Bonus, bonus – Also, I set up a video camera in a private room to let each person check in, a la The Real World, so that they can talk about their experience in private. When each of our students graduate, they get a video edited down of each of these “check ins” so they can see the growth they had over the years.

Love, love, love that.

JG