Sunday, May 23, 2010

Migration Season

The Migration Season for our college age young people has begun. Youth Sundays with recognition of the graduating seniors is the congregation's way of launching them out of the nest. Launched with the unspoken assumption that they will test their wings and eventually return when it is time for them to have children. Sent off with little or no support.

How many times have you collegiate ministers received communication from a congregation informing you that one of their members has enrolled in your institution? For me, in 22 years, less than 10 letters or e-mails! That's neglectful, and pityful.

We wring our hands because our congregations are getting smaller, yet we allow a whole segment to leave by the back door. We forget our vows we made to them when they were baptized.

Chuck Bomar, who blogs at College Ministry Thoughts, is doing good work in thinking about and addressing this area of congregational inaction. He pushes for every congregation to have some intentional strategy for ministry to the college aged, whether that congregation is near an higher education institution or not. And he emphases personal connections over programs.

His new book, The Slow Fade, (written along with a pastor and a recent college graduate) encourages congregations and families to invest in college-aged people, to prevent the "slow fade" from active involvement in faith communities. Investing means connecting students with the full life of the faith community by providing them with nurturing inter-generational relationships and meaningful service. This is not campus ministry, but might overlap into it.

The Slow Fade is a helpfull little book for congregations near your institutions, or for fculty or staff who might be feeling called to be more involved in the spiritual life of students.  It is a plea to understand the twenty somethings and an encouragement for adults in the congregation to be involved in the life of a college student, not just for the well-being of the college student, but for the enrichment of the entire faith community. 

Campus ministry can't do it all.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Preparing for Summer

In the summer I often hear college ministers discussing what they are doing to prepare for the new academic year. I don't think I have ever heard someone say what they were doing to prepare for summer. Not recreationally (that's a typical conversation topic) but professionally. Many collegiate ministers have open / unpaid/ down time during the summer. How can we prepare to make that time effective for our ministries? Suggestions?

Here are a few which come to mind.

Make a reading list.   Pick a few books which will stimulate your reflecting about your ministry. Pick a few which will nurture your spirit. Then get to reading.

Inspire your student leaders. Give them a question or two from them to think about over the summer. Use their responses as part of your leadership retreat before school starts. Maybe you all could start a discussion thread- private for you and the leaders. Specifically contact them in the middle of the summer. Send them a small devotional or article. Thank them for their ministry during the past year and ask them to continue praying for the ministry and for you in preparation for the new year.

Connect with potential students. You probably already have a student who writes to all the prospective students who find your ministry on Face Book. Make certain they are being welcomed already. Are there orientation days where incoming students could indicate interest?

Oversight board development. Is there an article or thought piece you could give them (and maybe even write) which they could use as a summer reflection stimulator. Then use it as a discussion starter at your late summer / early fall Board retreat or meeting.

Attend a professional conference. A good way to get ideas, resources, and encouragement. Summit '10 or NCMA's conferences would be good ones.

What else?
What resources could you share with us?