One of the questions that comes up a lot in my work with parents of high school and college students is:
“How do I help get my kid connected in a college ministry?”
“What are some ways that I can encourage my kid to get involved in a ministry when they are away at college?”
I love college ministry. I was involved as a leader on campus during my own college years, and after college I spent 3 years on a university as an academic advisor, college recruiter and campus Bible study leader. I also spent 7 years as the college pastor at Bel Air Pres, doing campus work at USC, UCLA and LMU. And in that time I learned that many parents know, and students know, that their faith will be challenged at a new level during their college years, and they desire to see their faith grow, and remain spiritually connected and active during this time. I think there are definitely some things that a parent can do to help prepare their kid spiritually for that transition from high school to college, and I think there are some ways to encourage kids to thrive in that transition space as well. Whether it’s parents, a youth worker, friend, etc., many people play a role in helping kids make that transition successfully.
I’ve been looking at Fuller Youth Institute’s College Transition Project and they have been doing some amazing research and providing some much needed resources in this area. The Ivy Jungle also has been providing some resources and stats in this area. And one of the resources that I have enjoyed looking at is the work of my friend Benson Hines at Exploring College Ministry who has been gathering a ton of information and resources during his many road trips to college ministries across the country.
One of the stats that I’ve heard (and that I’m currently looking for the resource), is that if a kid doesn’t get connected to a college ministry/community within the first few weeks of school, there is a very high percentage that they won’t get plugged in until sometime in their junior year. So you can see why the first few weeks of college when everyone is making friends, trying to get connected, and build a community is so crucial.
I’m teaching a class to parents on January 31 at HPPC on this very topic, so let me ask you:
If you went to college and were involved in a college ministry during any of that time…what was helpful, and not helpful in helping get you connected to them?
What can a parent do? Or what did your parents do to help you get spiritually connected in college?
What can youth workers do better to help a kid make that transition?
What would you tell an incoming freshmen about the importance of finding a church/campus church community early on?
I would love some feedback, and I will post later on this topic, as well as adding some of my own thoughts on how to encourage your kids during that transition.