One of the most important aspects of our team is figuring out how to have our students on Wednesday nights (which I would say 50 percent of them have families that come to our church and the other 50 percent don’t come at all) get involved to the larger church as a whole. We have heard of the one-eared Mickey Mouse illustration and all of that, but it really is an issue. The question is, when they leave my program, what happens next? How do we help them know there is something bigger than them in all of this? How can we help them see the bigger picture? We meet on Wednesday nights, so chances are unless the student brings their parent to church on the weekends or our parent ministry is awesome (which is in its beginning stages of being intentional, so it’s not, if I’m being honest), then the question is …
What are ways we can help our students realize there is the Church outside of their church?
I believe it incorporates introducing aspects of service. I’m sure there are a ton of different ways based on the context of your church setting and group, but here are a few things we are doing to try to connect our Wednesday night student services to the church as a whole:
Item of the month—Our local outreach does this thing called “Bumper Bags” at the end of the month. Our church goes out and buys bags of groceries, comes to church, leave the bags by the bumpers of their cars and a team of people come pick them up, sort them, and later that day families from all over the area come and “shop” for free the food they need. So with that, they have an item of the month they need and our ministry will help provide that. This month was cleaning supplies, so we announced what we were trying to do and encouraged them to give something to be a part of it. We also bought a few different things on our own and offered if students wanted to donate a $1 we would donate on their behalf. It’s been fun to see.
Tithing toward a tangible thing—I think students like to know they are and can make a difference, and showing them in a tangible way is super effective. This last month we got the approval to take our tithing money and donate it directly to a child that we sponsor as a ministry. This child whom we sponsor is from a ministry that we as a church help support and send groups to all of the time. They give her clothes, supplies and pay for her school. So if our students were to ever go on a mission trip there, they could actually meet the child we have been sponsoring and visit her home and meet her family. We show a picture of her, tell a little about her story every other week, and we will get updates and stories about her life. It’s been so fun to see students “get it” when it comes to there is something bigger than themselves, especially when it comes to money and they see it tangibly in front of them making a difference. It’s the beginning process of them learning to think outside of themselves.
These are just two things we have implemented in the last two months, and they have been so fun to watch. What do you do to try to connect your students to the Church during their church?