As students begin to head home for Christmas, how can we, as local churches, support them as they return to the churches they were sent from just 4 months ago?
- They’re not youth anymore. This might seem obvious but it’s worth mentioning. You might have not seen them for months and the work Jesus has done whilst they’ve been away. They will no doubt have grown, speak to them on a different level of maturity.
- Message them – now! A vast majority of students are struggling with the thought of coming home (it’s not personal I promise). They may be gutted that their first term has been cut short. Welcome them home and help ease the transition by letting them know that you can’t wait to see them.
- Small group. The best way for students to feel connected is through a small group. Trying to fit them into youth small groups won’t work. Help them feel at home by connecting them into a small group with other young adults. Or, could you run a small group for returning students? Even better, could you help them run one?
- Get them serving. Serving is one of the best ways for people to be connected into church family. Students have a ton of energy and may have more time in the day to offer. Are there Christmas compassion projects they could get involved in? Could they come back and serve within their old youth? Could a couple of them get together and record the notices for church online?
- Local church. The best way for a student to thrive at university is to find home in a local church. Not all students find a church their first term, first year sometimes. If you don’t want them to fall off a cliff after all the years you’ve invested help them find a church. The Fusion Try Church App is a great tool to find local churches. You could even download it yourself and look through it together.
- Listen well. Any fresher going to university is stepping into the unknown, but that has never been more true than this year. As mentioned prior, they may not have found a church yet to call home and so might not have had anyone to ask them how they’re doing. Even if they have, they might not have found someone who knows them as well as you. Take time to ask them how they are and listen well.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Whilst they might have found people to encourage them, they might not have found anyone to challenge them. You have years of relationship from which you able to ask the hard questions; drinking, their spending habits, relationship boundaries… all the hard questions we need to be asking to love them well.
- Be mindful of new Christians. I became a Christian at university and struggled to find a church in the Christmas holidays. Be mindful that you too may have new Christians watching and waiting. How could you welcome them? One way is to make sure that your church is connected to Student Link Up.