Christmas break a great opportunity to reach out to your church’s college students

Christmas break a great opportunity to reach out to your church’s college students

For students, college is a season of “firsts” — and it’s important that churches stay right in the middle of that, Chris Mills said.

“Encouragement from their home church leaders can help them stay grounded in their faith as they navigate this new chapter,” said Mills, student missions strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

Ministry ideas

As your church prepares to welcome home students on Christmas break, what are some things you can do to encourage them to get plugged in and stay plugged in?

One simple thing you can do is host a welcome party, Mills said.

Jonathan Lancaster, associate pastor of First Baptist Church, Boaz, said his church tries to throw a party like that every December as students are returning.

“When our students from away come back, we try to involve them and plan some activity with them to give them an opportunity to be together,” he said. “We have a lot of students who have family in the church, and they’re going to be here anyway — we want to make sure they’re not forgotten.”

For First, Boaz, Christmas is a great time to reconnect — but they hope it’s simply an extension of their effort to try to stay connected all year long, Lancaster said.

“We try to do little things, like text them or give them a call every now and then during the school year,” he said. “We have some ladies who do care packages for us and will get all the names of the students who are away at college and send them to them.”

Mills said care packages and notes are a great way to stay in touch. He said it’s so important to stay in touch with students all year long, as a home church can be a big influence if it leverages that opportunity.

‘Go and visit’

“Go and visit your students,” he said, suggesting that you offer to meet them at their school’s Baptist Campus Ministries to learn about the ministry opportunities there.

Mills also said social media is a great way to keep up with them.

And when they’re home for Christmas, “spend some time with them one-on-one or in small groups debriefing their semester,” he said.

Another possibility that Mills suggested was to set up opportunities for returning students to serve in the community or on missions trips outside of the local church.

Lancaster said his church has done that in the past, as well as inviting returning college students to be a part of the church’s Christmas musical.

“We just want to do whatever we can to make sure there’s not a disconnect there,” he said.

Walk alongside them

Mills encouraged churches to spend time finding the opportunities God has given them to keep students connected.

“Imagine the impact that a student can have on their campus as they seek to boldly live out their faith,” he said. “What a blessing to be able to walk alongside students on the collegiate campus ‘missions field’ — let’s pray for them and find our place in encouraging them to live boldly for the sake of Christ.”