Did you know that over half of the number of students entering into college will walk away from their faith? Yes, you read that correctly. Over 50%. That statistic breaks my heart and ignites a spark of motivation too. You and I have the power to lower that number! If you’re involved in college ministry, or you’re interested in jumping in, here are a few big ideas I believe will help us lead well.
- Show up consistently.
The easiest way to build connection and trust with college students is to simply show up for them consistently. Offer to take a student to lunch, coffee, or simply check in via text to see how their week is going. Invite them to church or your church’s college ministry, yes, but if a student is hesitant to come, that’s okay. Through prayer and consistency, God will move. You may be the first stepping stone in a student’s long faith journey – don’t give up!
- Show up with care.
I once heard a college student say, “I’m not a Christian. The Bible is 3,000 years old. How can I believe in something that old?”
Many times, students are incredibly misinformed about Christianity. They think faith is about a book, not a person. They think Christians are loud converters who hold up signs at public events and yell through megaphones. Some students have horrifying pasts, parents who neglected them, or have heavy tragedies to process. They don’t believe God can love them or that he’s even real.
It’s our job to show up with care – to show them that Jesus was gentle and humble in heart. Students don’t need another friend; they need a guide they can relate to. Be as authentic as possible. Validate their feelings and questions, and kindly equip them with truth.
- Show up for yourself.
For some students, you may be their closest example of what a Christ-follower looks like. No pressure, right? It’s a gift, but also a heavy responsibility and honor. If you’re consistently pouring out love to students without taking care of yourself, you’ll likely face burn out. Show up for yourself by prioritizing faith in your own life, and allow others to walk alongside you. You can’t pour from an empty cup!
Andy Stanley once asked, “What is the faith of the next generation worth?” and after a short pause, he answered, “everything.”