It has been finals week here for our local university. That means that several students are in “intense study” mode, “fill up the coffee mug a few more times” mode, and “pulling all nighters” mode. This became even more apparent to me when I recently visited a local coffee shop. It was full of college students that had their laptops, ear buds, smartphones, and textbooks. Every time I see college students, have a conversation with college students, or pray for college students I think about their place in the local church. It is such a critical time in life and I have a strong desire to see the local church reach out to this generation. The more I think about this, four statements keep running through my mind…
1. College students are real people. This statement may read a little strange. However, you would be amazed how many church members/attenders don’t recognize the college students in the church. Some see them as less significant due to them not being “faithful tithers.” Others see them as short-term members and turn their attention to people who will be at the church more “long-term.” Some have a heart to reach these college students. To these people I say thank you. College students are real people who need a vibrant local church to plug into.
2. College students have a story that comes with them. Every person represents a story; college students are no different. When they arrive on their campus a story comes with them. They bring joys, pains, scars, and victories from their life thus far. Following the same theme as my first statement the local church must do a better job of seeing this. I love sitting down with college students and figuring out where they have been and where they want to go. Jesus commanded us to “go and make disciples” in Matthew 28. The key in accomplishing this most effectively is found in one word- relationship.
3. College students want to be a part of the local church as a whole. It’s great to have a ministry just for college students in your local church. What’s even better is to plug college students into the life of the local church as a whole. College students want to serve. They want to be greeters, operate cameras, help pass the offering plate, hold babies, work with middle school students, help serve at senior adult banquets, and so forth. Giving them the opportunity to do this says “we love you and want you here.”
4. College students need the local church to love on them. Ultimately this is the bottom line. College students need mature, Christ following adults who are growing in their own personal walk to come alongside them. They need these adults to model for them what it means to love Christ more than anything else. They need these adults to model what a biblical husband, wife, father, mother, business man/woman, looks like. They need families who are willing to open up their homes and allow them to study, do laundry, and eat. (Free pizza is always a winner!) Some of the coolest relationships I have seen in the local church is an older adult-college student mentorship. Write cards, send emails, take them to Wal-Mart… be the hands ands feet of Jesus to them. You won’t regret it and I can guarantee you it will be as much a blessing to you as it is to them.