How did you feel at the end of last summer? Rested and ready for a new academic year? More tired than usual and wish you’d taken more rest?
2021 is different from other years. A lot of students are sticking about, staying later or coming back early. As Student Workers, many of us use our summers to rest (see previous blog on how to rest well). However, we might feel a tension: “I want to connect with my students but I need a break.” Here are some thoughts on how to connect with students still around but also make it lighter and allow you to take that all important rest.
1. Once a month zooms. Putting the dates out to your students early on will mean they know when something is coming and having a few touch points will mean both they and you feel connected. It’s worth saying that you don’t have to lead these. Why not pass them over to your students to lead and give them the opportunity to step up?
2. Zooms after church. Many students might not have churches in thier home towns and therfore feel that you are home. You could connect with each other for half an hour after your online service to catch up, reflect on the talk and pray together.
3. Social media. Create content ahead and set when you want it to go out. Share stories of what people are doing with their summer and what life is like back in their city or home town. For example, you could get each student to make a reel of their day.
4. Whatsapp/Facebook group. This might be a given, but keep posting and messaging to keep the connection going over the summer.
5. Bible plans. At my church we recently did a Bible Project plan of Paul’s letters and last summer we read through the whole of the new testament together.
6. Get students to organise trips and activities. Take it off you and ask a couple of students to organise activities once every couple of weeks for those still around. Picnics, park games, beach trips and barbecues are all easy outdoor activities.
7. Utilize the whole church. Last summer we set up a mentoring programme and assigned each student to someone else in the church. They loved spending the summer getting to know them and the relationships have built over the year.
8. As best you can, connect them into churches back home. Some students may not have a home church or that church might not be right for them now that they’ve been away. Students can use our Student Link Up app to connect into churches at home, not just at university.
9. Watch parties. If students are sticking around and church is still online, they might not want to visit church in person but they could get together around someone's house and watch it as a group.
10. How can they still be missional with their friends? Although the term is over, encourage them to keep connecting with their housemates and course friends. One student I know of started reading the bible over facetime with one of her university friends last year and had many great conversations and opportunities for prayer. God is always at work so encourage your students to keep on keeping on with sharing the good news.
Take a moment now and reflect: What three ideas above can you action over the next week to lighten your load and help students feel connected throughout the summer?