[Next Generation] College freshmen need you

Recent high school graduates will soon embark on well-worn paths that are brand new to them. They need your help to stay connected to the church. God saved me my senior year of high school. A couple of years earlier, some friends invited me to the youth group at Lake Village Baptist Church. I did not want to go, but they were persistent. Going changed my life. I connected with an incredible church full of great leaders.  I still talk to many of them 25 years later. They showed me the love of Jesus. My youth minister at the time, Brandon Massey, is still a treasured friend. God used LVBC to set a solid foundation for my relationship with Him. Later, I even had the opportunity to serve on staff there as an intern and youth minister. 

However, as I was about to move an hour away for college, I desperately needed spiritual maturity as a young believer. God changed my life and gave me an overwhelming passion for Him, but I was so raw and sinful. I look back on those days fondly for how loving God and the church were to me, but I also cringe when I think about my past self. I guess if I keep growing, I will always feel that way about previous seasons.  

My freshman year was difficult. I wanted to hide every time I walked into a new place, even church. I needed a better tether to past relationships and a bridge to the future. I struggled to find spiritual health. Then, I walked into the BSU, now called BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry). Everything changed again. I made lifelong friends, found a community that helped me connect better to a local church, and met another mentor who taught me how to be a disciple who makes disciples. I often wonder where I would be if I had fallen away from the church as so many do during those years.  

New beginnings can be tough. Here are some ways you can help keep high school graduates connected to God.  

  • Love Them – If you continue to love them well, you usually will continue to have an influence in their life. 
  • Connect Them to a Local Church – Research collegiate engaged churches. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention’s Church Health Team can help with this. Set up a lunch between you, the student, and a local leader. Too far of a distance? Make some phone calls or use FaceTime.  
  • Connect Them to the BCM – Having a community of Christians who partner together to serve God on their campus will be incredibly encouraging. God uses the BCM to radically change lives. It’s a great place for students to find purpose, encouragement, accountability, and friends. BCMs also excel in helping students find churches. 
  • Stay Connected – They might talk your ear off, or they might not answer the call or return the text, but let them know you love them, and you are there if they ever need you. Follow up regularly. 
  • Prepare the Next Class – Most of the things that will help students keep their relationship with God thriving cannot be done in a few weeks. Start preparing future grads now by: 
  • Teach Spiritual Disciplines – students already in the habit of praying and reading their Bible in their own time are much more likely to stay connected. 
  • Connect Them to More Than the Youth Group – Praise God for student ministries, but students who attend the corporate worship gathering in high school are more likely to do so in college. 
  • Teach Them to Serve – Teach them to actively play a role in the body of Christ as they serve alongside. 

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3 Responses

  1. I appreciated the article! This is where we loose so many of our young people. We will try to incorporate this into our church this year in ministering to those leaving high school’

  2. Bro. Phillip, thank you for including the next-to-last bullet point about connecting youth to more than the youth ministry. Such a good point that we sometimes fail to capitalize on. Students need to remember “going to church to worship” is more than just a Wednesday night meeting with only youth. All of your points are so good!!!!!

    By the way, I surely am looking forward to July 14. Can’t wait for you and your family to make the move to FBC Crossett.

  3. Excellent article. I would add that just as parents encourage good grades and about classes…do the same about church connections at school.

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