As we approach the fall, there is much that we can do to help our high school seniors transition well. Here’s a post from earlier this summer with some ideas….
We’ve all seen the doomsday statistics about how many students are walking away from church and faith when the get into college. If you’re like me you probably have a few names and faces that represent the numbers in those statistics. What’s difficult is that while you’re spinning on the hamster wheel of weekly student ministry it can be difficult to think strategically about college transition.
The temptation is to become paralyzed by the hugeness of the problem. Guilt and fear tells us that we need to restructure our entire ministry because everything we are doing apparently sucks. This is a dirty lie. The truth is most of what we are doing in student ministry is great for the long-term faith development of our students. Instead of scrapping your entire structure consider tweaking your ministry. What is one thing we can do differently to improve college transition? Here are 3 suggestions of ways to tweak your approach to college transition.
Who am I?
Perhaps the biggest issue our students face as they graduate from our ministries is that they don’t know who they are. They don’t have a cear picture of how God has designed them or what He might be calling them to. Helping them make progress in this area can be a huge service to your students and maybe even save them a few thousand dollars in college tuition.
Maybe the way to tweak your ministry is to help your seniors discover a little about how God has wired them. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to helping students understand who they are. Currently, we are using Donald Miller’s Storyline as a template for our discussions. Jon Acuff’s Start may be more geared for adults but it’s hilarious and insightful. Finding Your Way is also another great resource that is specifically designed with this purpose in mind.
Maybe you don’t have time to create an additional program just for seniors but I bet you do have a weekend available somewhere during the year. A retreat just for seniors is a great first step toward improving college transition. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Find a cabin or a lake house and spend the weekend helping them build a strategy for how to grow spiritually during their first year of college. Our version of this is called Senior Sneak. See what we did there with the two “S”s? Genius.
Programs will never compare to relationships. An entire year’s worth of transition curriculum isn’t worth much unless caring adults are pouring into the lives of your students. Without mentoring relationships students will have trouble implementing the principles you are teaching.
Perhaps you’re too busy for either of my previous two suggestions. That’s fine. Delegate it. Recruit other people to do it. Find mature and caring adults who are willing to mentor students and turn them loose. Even if you do have the time and resources to develop a college transition ministry, you should still pull in quality adults as mentors. Inter-generational mentoring relationships are like a magic bullet against faith abandonment in college.
Faith abandonment in college is a huge problem but don’t let it paralyze you. Instead of restructuring everything, simply take a step in the right direction. For now, pick whatever suggestion sounds best. If none of them sound good then invent your own. Just take a step.