So, what's your favorite memory from your freshman year? What did your favorite pair of shoes look like? Was your haircut cool? Did you live in the dorm? How many times did you change your major? Was church or campus ministry a part of your year? Whether your freshman year was long ago or last year, college memories remain fresh and are life shaping.
Nearly 19 million college students are preparing to begin class next month. How will you and your church seek to be involved in their lives? Consider the following:
Make the first three weeks of the semester count.
A college student's journey is shaped by the first three weeks of the school year more than any other time of the year. Decisions are made about time use, friends, class, church, morals, and more. Students are deciding if they will go to class or not, study or not, pledge or not, attend church or not, party or not. These decisions will impact the rest of the year and longer for students. Don't wait until students get settled into their semester to begin your collegiate ministry. By then students will have already established their patterns.
- Serve students as they move in the dorms. Check with your BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) director for best dates, times, and learning university policy.
- Invite students to something specific as you serve them, like free breakfast on Sunday morning, an ice cream party, or a block party with a grill and music.
- Give them info about the ongoing things at your church as well. Sometimes special events are emphasized so much that a student fails to learn what time worship begins.
Develop a specialized ministry to at least one people group on campus.
College campuses are mini-worlds. Starting a college ministry can be a bit overwhelming. Pick one segment of campus like the marching band, a specific sorority, largest residence hall, volleyball team, etc. Learn about them. Who are their members? What is their schedule? How can your church pray for them? What are specific things you can do to meet their needs?
- The band sweats during camp. Taking bottled water or snow cones would say that your church cares.
- If a sorority meets on Monday evenings, why not ask to drop off homemade desserts and learn how you can pray for their group.
- Lots of fans may attend football games, but a real impact can be made by mass support of a less popular team sport.
Have a plan for your collegiate ministry.
What would you like for a college student to look like after three years of involvement in your ministry? Have an intentional plan for Bible study, missions involvement, etc. Threads offers some incredible studies. Check out the topical, short-term Bible studies, as well as the revamped Collegiate, which offers weekly Bible studies that can take a student through much of the Bible during his or her college years. Have the end result in mind as you teach, plan events, and journey through life with collegians.
I loved the dorm. Living with 147 of my closest friends was over the top fun for me. My hair was styling, thanks to the ever popular hot rollers. I never actually changed my major, although I thought about it often. My college church and campus ministry made a significant impact on how I do life.
A ministry to college students will change your life, your church, and the world. I am convinced of it!