Many of you are away from the local church when you’re in school. As you return back home for the weekend or for the breaks I need you to remember some things.
- Remember to serve: we talked about this before you guys left about how to be a consistent member even in college. When you come back, you finally get your opportunity to give back to your church. So think of fellowships or ministries where you can serve while you’re back and ask the leaders how you can help. This is you taking your membership seriously.
- Remember to connect: while you were gone, there have been new people who have showed up. Things aren’t the same as when you left and so you’re going to have to put the effort into connecting and reconnecting with the people. It’s easy to come home and assume it’s all the same but fortunately, the dynamics have shifted a bit. Connect especially with the younger ones, the ones you don’t know, and find ways you can love on them. Encourage the older ones with your testimony of what God is doing in college and the community.
- Remember your family: when you’re home, spend time with your family. Seems easy enough. But what i find out is that most college students come back and all they wanna do is spend more time with their college friends. But before you go off and do that, give your own family the time they deserve..and when you’re with them, give them quality time - let them know what you’ve been learning, dealing with, and what are some goals. Ask them about what’s been going on at home and their work.
- Remember your context: Yes please let us know how God is working on your campus and through your ministries…but please don’t come back and criticize everything that’s wrong about what we have here. We realize that we don’t have your community nor resources (worship team, preachers, leaders…) that you have up in college and honestly, that isn’t our context. Our context is here. We don’t have to apologize for that though. We thank God that he’s blessed your campus with those things. Celebrate what’s good in both places.
We’re glad you’re home college students. Share with us and equip us with what God has given you in college. Welcome back.
Part of our journey on this “foundational” year must include a visit to understanding the Bible. It’s one of those things where we vaguely remember some 3rd grade Sunday school story or some Awana memory verse. Honestly, most of us forgotten this basic piece to our spiritual depth.
For the month of October, we’re going to revisit this extremely important piece of depth. So here’s the big goal for the month:
Recently (well maybe 6 months ago) I was tasked by the staff to renovate our church parsonage (aka “missions house”). To give you some background, this house was originally our pastor emeritus’ house turned church office turned parsonage. I actually lived there for a few months when I was “homeless” and it was alright but wasn’t the prettiest out there. The furniture was pieced together by random donations or leftovers and the appliances were straight out of the 70s…maybe 80s. Anyways, the church has been talking about this project for years now and finally I decided we needed to get things done. Little did I know God had more lessons for me than I expected. I share them with you now:
Today was a hard day for us as a youth ministry. Perhaps it seemed like any other Sunday where conversations were filled with anxiety over the coming school week and attentions were divided. Our hearts were not focused on the glorified, risen Son of God…instead, they were fixed on ourselves - how we felt, what we liked, what we didn’t like…schools, tests, tiredness, clash of clans…Like i said, today was a hard day.
Maybe you’re frustrated with our growth or the lack thereof. Maybe you’re frustrated with yourself because although you know better, all you can do is blame everyone else for not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
But the right response now is not for us to blame or complain or to quit. Right now, we pray for forgiveness. Humble yourself before the Lord and pray…
- Forgive us for coming into your place of worship and completely worshiping ourselves.
- Forgive us for having an attitude of entitlement and misrepresented the Gospel in front of everyone
- Forgive us for not giving you the attention or time you deserve today and instead we chose homework, gossip, complaining, and sleep as our god today.
- Restore to us again the joy of our salvation, the joy that comes from the fellowship of the saints, and the nearness of the Spirit.
What to focus on:
1. We can see that many of the students are extremely excited about youth group this semester (esp. the younger ones) Again, this is exactly what we’ve been praying for. So we need to slowly fuel that flame. Right now many of them just want to be a part of the program…which is alright for now. We don’t have to smash those dreams because it might lead to playing the game…but for right now, let’s focus on connecting them into the ministry. We need to build these bridges for later on where we can fortify their foundations and be able to disciple out of trust and relationships.
2. This week with your mentor/mentee(s)…the foundational element to work on is that of: BRIDGES. Find one or two things that you can actively do to build some bridges in your relationship (call, text, send a note, etc.) Remember those 3 people you’re assigned to connect with? Take these next two weeks and do these things.
We started praying back in the Spring of 2014 for God to give us some direction for this coming year. We were coming off of the theme and core value of “Community” and we were trying to figure out what came next. “Community” exposed a lot of things to us as a youth group and were crucial for us to go through as a ministry. It revealed to us that we (individually & corporately) were more self-centered, self-consumed, and self-reliant than we wanted to admit. When you have a theme that consistently reinforced being together, sharing your lives with one another, and loving others more than yourself…yeah, it starts to reveal things about where you are.
So as the summer came and went, we tried to observe where God was taking this youth group. We knew there was going to be huge changes in the demographic of the youth group with a huge senior class leaving and a larger 6th grade class entering. So we took to our knees and prayed. We’ve said this from day 1 that our ministry, budget, and events better be led by prayer or else we’re doomed. So we had 2 separate meetings - adult leaders & youth leaders, and just prayed for vision. The praying led to our theme and vision for the 2014-2015 year.
I’ve been approached by many students who are either going to college or are already at college about staying faithful to the church while away. I’m actually pleasantly surprised by their question because it shows that they’re heart is in the right place and hopefully they want to remain consistent in their understanding of the Gospel and church membership.
But practically, this is what I would say to you college students who are members of a church back at home: