How might college students be part of the 30 Hour Famine?


Rocky Supinger 

thumbnail-2I serve in a college community, yet my congregation has practically zero involvement from college students in our worship or ministry. It never has. In fact, none of the churches in town, to my knowledge, involve students from the campus in a significant way.

This is a problem for several reasons, and prominent among them is the lack of mentors for youth from among the ranks of post high school youth. I’ve seen over and over again the powerful effect that collegiate young adults can have, particularly on high school students, who look up to them and see in them someone who is holding to faith in the next stage of life. Something very important is missing when our students don’t have a chance to interact with and learn from peers who are three to five years older than high school.

I’ve been here for six years now, and I’m ready to take this on (with the help of the 30 Hour Famine).

This year’s famine will feature a college student. The student comes from something called The Napier Scholar program (, a collaboration between a local group of retired clergy and the colleges to support college students who are learning to lead for social change. Napier scholars are placed in local organizations and spend their spring semester completing a project focused on social justice. Local organizations have only to apply for a student. So I did.

In a couple of weeks we will meet our scholar and introduce her to the goals and history of the 30 Hour Famine. We’ve pushed the weekend back to April, so as to give our scholar more time to work with the youth who want to lead the event, so our scholar will have roughly four months to work with me and a group of students to put together the weekend.

I’ve never done this before. One of the things I’m nervous about is handing over critical decision making to someone else. Working with high school leaders is one thing; you set them up to tackle a couple of critical decisions, but, in the end, you’re calling most of the shots. This will be different. I’m going to have to cede some serious control to our Napier scholar. This could be a terrific development (after all, I’m no 30 Hour Famine rock star). But it could also go badly. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

There’s also a tangential benefit here. Our scholar isn’t working alone. She’s part of a cadre of Napier scholars who are spending the semester in a class together and working on their respective projects. I have every intention of inviting our scholar’s peers into our Famine, whether perhaps as leaders for the weekend or perhaps even as organizers of one of the event’s service projects. I’m seriously hoping to have a group of social justice-minded college students crash our Famine.

But I need some advice. How have other Famine’s involved college students in leadership? What about working with college leaders as its own body of work? What’s one thing I definitely should or shouldn’t do in working with my college leader? Like all risks, this one has a heavy element of the unknown. I’m eager to hear how others have taken the same risk.