How Do You Get College Students Involved in the Church’s Mission and Ministry?

Date May 25, 2011

Recently I was asked, “What ways have you seen that are successful for folding college students or recently graduated college students into a larger fellowship?”  Essentially, this person wanted to know, “How do you get college age students involved in the church’s mission and min

My response included 6 key thoughts …

  • You have to answer their questions – and be open for all of their questions – including the ones you would really rather not deal with – without judgment.
  • You have to genuinely care for them. Care is spelled T-I-M-E. Love (care) is demonstrated by how much of an investment we make in another. Consider the fact that most college age adults simply drift from the faith, as explained by Drew Dyck in Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith and How to Bring Them Back

“Fully 22 percent of eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds claimed no religion, up 11 percent from 1990. They also found that 73 percent of Nones came from religious homes, and 66 percent were ‘deconverts.’ ” (2010, p. 168)

  • You have to communicate through their media – we have to be able to communicate through text messages, Facebook, Twitter (and whatever media they communicate in next) in order to be in their world.
  • You have to invest in them – we have to listen to their hearts and do all we can to equip them to accomplish their dreams. From their dreams will come the new ministries of the church that will reach their generation with the love and leadership of Christ.
  • You have to train them into ministry. Many of Jesus’ disciples were in this age range – and Jesus entrusted the future of the church to them. We must train them intensively for accomplishing the ministry and let them lead – giving them on the job training as they go.
  • You have to give them a seat at the table and make room for their leadership. Without ownership, they simply walk away. (Included is a picture of Michelle Eastman, a staff member at Saddleback, as an example – note her tag.) In order to “fold in college students” we have to have an inclusive mentality and methodology of putting high school and college age men and women into leadership and on staff. We can do that through volunteer positions, internships, and part-time paid staff when appropriate. Listen to Larry Osborne’s counsel from his book, Sticky Teams:

“… young eagles are born to fly. It’s their nature. It’s how God made them. if they can’t fly high at our church, they’ll bolt and fly elsewhere. And sadly, if and when they do, they’ll take most of the life, vitality, and the future of the church with them.” (2010, p. 115)

That was my answer. I would love to hear what you would say. Feel free to write a comment and post it.

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