Helping College Students Connect With a Church



By Shawn Kiger

I am currently wrapping up the summer and my efforts have turned towards school year activates ramping up in our youth ministry. I have started working out retreat dates, looking at what we are going to focus on this year program-wise, and starting to plan next summer’s mission trips. I am also making connections with the parents and students of new 6th grade students entering into the youth ministry. I love their nervous excitement they have as they come to youth group for the first time. The same can be said for our new 9th graders who get to move up into the high school ministry.

But I had a conversation this week that reminded me that there is one group of students that I shouldn’t forget about, and that’s our college students: those that have just graduated high school and going to college for the first time and those that are returning to college.

This week I talked with two of our college students who are beginning their junior year. They grew up in our church and were very active in the youth ministry. Now they are both involved in a church near their college campus. They have helped start a young adult ministry at this church and are regular attenders at worship on Sunday mornings. The pastor and I were asking them questions, because, in our experience it is unusual, unfortunately, that college students remain active in a church while in college. They talked to us about the experiences they had growing up in our church and the things in youth ministry that had the biggest impact on them.

So I asked them why they decided to remain involved in a church in college. One of them said that when she got to college, and after she figured out where her classes were and dorm life she began to feel like something was missing, especially on Sunday mornings. There were so many new things she were experiencing but something still didn’t feel right. Then she said our pastor suggested they go check out this church that is near campus where he knew the pastor. She and the other girl did and loved it.

Sometimes we get discouraged at the statistics of how many students abandon the church during their college years. But this conversation reminded me that sometimes all it takes is helping them make a connection. Just that little encouragement and showing them that their home church hasn’t forgotten about them and still cares for them. A little push to connect them to a church near campus. In this case it was not only a blessing to them but also to the church they have become involved in.