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12 Ways for Your Church to Stay Connected With High School Graduates and College Students

Over the next several weeks, our churches will celebrate with high school seniors as they graduate. Regrettably, churches too often lose touch with the students they helped raise when they go away to school. Perhaps these ideas will help your church avoid that tendency:

  1. Commission students as missionaries to their campuses. Challenge them with this responsibility. Send them out officially as your representative, and then purposefully stay in touch with them.
  2. Establish one person responsible for overseeing this church-student connection ministry. This ministry will take some intentionality and work, so find someone who can take the lead. A couple who can reach out to male and female students would be great.
  3. Develop a prayer network for graduates. Raise up prayer warriors who will intercede weekly for each graduate. Use electronic means to keep in touch with the students and learn of their prayer needs.
  4. Provide a scholarship with accountability. Offer some academic funding for deserving students, but hold them accountable to getting plugged into a strong local church where they attend school.
  5. Develop small group partnerships with each graduate. Think about what a small group might do for students – offer prayer support, invite them to join the group via Skype, send care packages, remember them on their birthdays, pray for them during exam week, etc.
  6. Provide financial assistance for computer filters. In my opinion, most young people need a filter that makes it harder to find pornography. When they move away from home, help them fight ungodliness by purchasing them a filter program for one year.
  7. Provide weekly video updates for college students. Just a 5 or 10-minute online update will keep them informed about your church and give them a little taste of home when they get lonely.
  8. Do Skype, Zoom, or some other electronic mentoring. Aim for all interested graduates having a mentor who meets with them once a month via Skype, Zoom, or other means.
  9. Assist them in finding a good church in their college setting. They’re more likely to get connected to a local body if they already have some connection before they get there. Introduce them to somebody on the ground in their university setting.
  10. Send exam week care packages to students. Something as simple as snacks and coffee says, “Hey, we’re thinking about you.” Plus, it requires the church to stay in touch with students to find out when exam weeks are.
  11. Plan “homecoming” events during breaks. Don’t wait to find out who’s coming home to plan something. Instead, plan something and invite them to come. Make them want to stay connected with their church.
  12. If your church is near a campus, connect with Christian groups there—and offer ministry through your church. In this case, be the church that attracts students who, too, need to be connected.

What would you add? What is your church doing?

This article originally appeared here.

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Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.