A youth worker recently asked me about re-engaging students who are back for holidays.
Now as an aside we have a resource (Studentscape) you can use for that, but, I told him, the key may be less what you do then and more what you do now before they leave. This is not only important for helping young people reconnect when home but lays foundations for healthy church community at uni.
The key: let them belong beyond the youth work. For those whose whole identity in church is within the youth work, it can be hard to feel at home once they have outgrown that. This ability to belong beyond their peer group is also helpful for learning to be a part of church at uni.
So what can we do to help our young people connect wider? Here are some ideas:
- Help them find mentors. I know I'm always banging on about it but a mentor creates connections beyond the peer group. it also provided someone to keep in touch and encourage the young person when they arrive home for holidays.
- If your youth are out during the service, encourage school leavers to stay in church once a month and serve. That might mean involvement with kids work, welcome, pa...help them function independently in the wider church community. Offer opportunities to serve in these areas and to share for the benefit of the community (testimony/speaking) when they're back home too!
- Talk about it. Talk about what it will be like to come back and not be in youth. Enable them to communicate their concerns and communicate to them that they're still wanted, still a part of the church community and still precious. Then drop them a line a few weeks before they come home so they know they're not forgotten.
I hope that these simple things may enable your school leavers to reconnect better once they return home. I hope that they will also see you send off young people who are ready to hit the ground running with church at uni.
How do you find connecting your young people with the wider church community?