Its the end of October. If youre a youth worker, by now youre fully enmeshed in fall programming and ministry relationships with new and returning students. Youre managing which football games, soccer games, volleyball games, and theater performances you can attend this week while preparing for next weeks retreat and keeping in touch with your small group leaders. Youre planning for next months holiday outreach and service opportunities. Youre calling and texting students about whats going on in their lives and to remind them to be at youth group. You have a lot on your plate.
Given that reality, one of the calls that may have slipped off your listand the lists of other leaders in your ministryis to last years graduates who moved on to college or other pursuits this fall. Remember them?
A couple of falls ago we wrote an article entitled You Make the Call: What College Freshmen Need to Hear from their Youth Pastors out of our ongoing College Transition Project, which is currently in its final year of data collection. Nows a great time to review that piece and consider making contact in the next couple of weeks if you havent been in touch with a grad in a while. Pop in on their Facebook, send a text, give them a call, or drop a card in the mail to their dorm.
Better yet, involve some adults in the church to help you out! One interesting finding in our research so far is that contact with at least one adult outside the youth ministry during the fall of freshman year is connected with higher faith outcomes. In other words, contact from students home church matters, even if its not contact from the youth pastor.
Finally, heres one quote that gives me chills every time I read it. Its from one participant in our study, reflecting back at the end of their freshman year of college:
It seems like when I was done with high school everything ended really fast. I haven’t heard from the youth pastor or the worship leader I played with or any other leader since that last night of church before I left for college. Thats really sad to me.
If your ministry doesnt have a plan for making sure this wont happen to your students, nows a great time to put one in place.
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