It’s Never Too Early to Make an Impact on College Students

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  • Does your congregation have students who just graduated high school or will graduate during the next few years?
  • Does your congregation want to continue impacting their lives as they move into college years?
  • What are your plans for transitioning students towards young adulthood and college as disciples?

Studies suggest that the majority of students that were connected to a local church during their teen years are walking away from active church connections during their college years.

Other experts in transitioning students suggest that many Christian students will disconnect very early in their first semester of college.

This tells us the church is missing opportunities to transition students into obedient and fruitful disciples.

Freshmen are making decisions about life and faith that will affect a lifetime during those first few weeks of the semester.

That is why intentionally transitioning high school graduates in their faith is so critical. It is never too early to start discipling students towards their college years.

We need be intentional about growing high school students as disciples so that they are ready to transition to college. It is important for the local churches to begin the process in 2016 of preparing high school juniors and seniors for transitioning to college in 2017 and 2018.

In fact, successful transitioning begins at the ages of 8, 12 and 16! Now is the time to begin investing in the lives of children and youth to help build solid foundations as disciples and help them anticipate and prepare for the challenges of college and young adulthood.

What foundations should your students have when they graduate high school?

First, they should be rooted in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Do they understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have an assurance of their salvation in Him alone?

Secondly, they should be at a point of maturity where they are taking responsibility for their faith and growth. They are responsible for their future growth as a disciple and should not expect parents or mentors to do it for them.

Next, they must understand that the life of the disciple is about relationship with Jesus. It is a daily and ongoing relationship in which the Christian abides in Christ and lives daily with Him. The student should be equipped with the building blocks of abiding in Christ through prayer, Bible study, worship and Christian community.

Finally, our graduating seniors must understand that the disciple life was meant to be lived with others. They must be comfortable living life with other disciples and have a desire to connect with other believers once away from home.

  • Are your children’s and youth ministries laying these foundations for your students?
  • Are your students progressively growing in maturity as disciples?
  • Are your students already in existing discipleship relationships?

Invest in the lives of students with the recognition that one day you will send them out.

As they head off to college, they may well leave your congregation and leave your influence. Will you have prepared them for that?

Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions campus ministers serve on campuses and in local associations to help Alabama Baptist local churches transition their graduating seniors, connect with them when they arrive on campus and connect them with our local churches.

We encourage and support our churches through printed and digital resources, worker training, transitions events and consultations.

One way that we are doing that is through a simple publication called “A College Student’s Guide to Growing in College” that Emily Hamilton (now with the Etowah Baptist Association) and I put together. This booklet covers Six Core Ideas that are important for the transitioning students to discover and understand.

Five of these ideas have short devotional Bible studies for students. The final core idea is focused on practical next steps they can take.

The booklet also contains a Scripture reading and memorization plan that takes students through nine weeks of daily readings and focuses on key verses to memorize.

This plan is designed to help students understand the Gospel of Christ so that they can have a strong foundation as disciples and be able to defend their faith.

This booklet is meant to be used in close connection with a church leader or mentor. It is filled with opportunities for the student to discuss with a trusted pastor or church friend.

  • Will you begin to invest in the lives of high school students in your congregation with an eye towards their graduation in a few years?
  • Will you begin now to intentionally identify students who will be transitioning in the next few years and make a plan to prepare them for the transition?
  • Will you utilize this booklet to walk with a student through their transition?
  • Will you invite a state missionary to help your congregation transition their graduates and continue to have a lasting impact on their lives after high school?

It’s never too early to make an impact on college students.

To obtain an emailed or a printed copy of “A College Student’s Guide to Growing in College,” please contact either:

  • State Missionary Mike Nuss, mnuss@alsbom.org, 1-800-264-1225, ext. 276, or (334) 613-2276.
  • Ministry Assistant Elissa Kilpatrick, ekilpatrick@alsbom.org, 1-800-264-1225, ext. 275, or (334) 613-2275.

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