Higher Education & Campus Ministry: Keep in touch with your congregation's college students
As students return to school this fall, congregations have unique opportunities for ministry. New and returning students will grace the campus. Whether the students are parishioners who attend college out of town or at the nearby community college, or they attend the local college or university, your congregation can minister to them.
Everyone wants to know that others care for them, and college and university students are no different. For parishioners who attend school out-of-town, prepare a back-to-school care package complete with things like:
*Orientation 2004, created especially for first-year students.
*The brochure So What About God Now That You're Off to College?
*The booklet Letters from the Heart: Reflections on the Psalms.
*Microwave popcorn, Ramen noodles, packaged cookies and a pre-paid phone card.
Your congregation's active care and ministry with the students will counter the old adage "out of sight, out of mind."
The church's Higher Education and Campus Ministry Committee can plan ways to provide continued ministry with these students during Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings and by sending newsletters by
e-mail or regular mail.
If your church archives worship services or Bible studies on the Web, provide the students with all of the pertinent information. Don't forget to enlist members of your congregation to pray for these and other students.
If your congregation is located close to a campus served by a United Methodist-related campus ministry, contact the campus minister or chaplain to identify ways your congregation can share in the ministry. Maybe your congregation and the campus ministry can lead a joint mission/service learning experience.
If your church is near a campus not served by a United Methodist campus ministry, your congregation is encouraged to minister actively to the campus community. An "Adopt-A-Family/Adopt-A-Student" ministry is one possibility. Invite students to participate in the worship and spiritual formation life of the congregation.
Don't forget to create and distribute a church flyer or brochure with all of the church information-- worship, young adult Sunday school and Bible study options, transportation possibilities, etc.
Providing care packages for this group is also a good idea. The flier Seventeen Ways to Welcome College Students is a valuable source of ideas for congregations.
For copies of any of the resources mentioned in this article, contact the Campus Ministry Section,
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry,
1001 19th Ave. S.,
P.O. Box 340007, Nashville, TN 37203-0007;
--Lillian C. Smith, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry