They are still living with their parents. According to Pew Research 66% of college students ages 18-24 were living at home. [i] While they don’t need to do laundry at your house, they do need some “non-parent” adults to speak into their lives, and some space to be adults. Parents in these homes are trying to figure out how to be a parent of a college student living at home. Navigating these waters can be tricky for both parents and students, and conflict happens often. Being a friend to both students and parents can open doors for greater ministry.
They work and go to school. Most of them are not only students, they are also working a part time job, and many of them are working full time jobs. They are busy. Ministry to this group needs to be flexible. They may be scheduled to work on Sundays, and unavailable to attend church. Find other times or places to meet them, maybe even on the job site after work. You might even be able to reach other students who are working in that same location.
They are lonely. Working and going to school leaves little time for developing social networks. High school friends have moved away and traffic patterns have changed. There are some clubs and social organizations on commuter campuses, but many students simply do not have time to be involved. They need to find friends in the community closest to where they live. The local church is strategically positioned to help. Find points of contact. Connect with local students on the community college campus through the BSM. Encourage active students to reconnect with those they knew in High school that they know are still in the area. Host fellowship meals at local restaurants or coffeehouses for students to gather and get to know each other. And don’t forget those servers! Many restaurants hire college students. Invite them to join your group next time they serve you.
They need to be challenged. Although staying home for a couple of years has become a trend, many of those who do stay home never finish college. Because they are working and going to school, often as finances are available, it is easy for them to lose site of the goal of getting a degree. Employers often entice good solid workers to stay on or take on more responsibility, leading these students to drop long range plans for the immediate reward of a bigger paycheck. A great number of Millennials do not have anyone in their lives helping them to stay motivated to reach their long range goals. Ask them what they want to do in ten years. Help them make a plan to get there. Then encourage them on a regular basis to keep going.
They have untapped potential. You can you think of someone in your college ministry right now that you know could be a leader if they would just…. Many of these students simply have never imagined themselves as leaders, or missionaries or you name it. They need someone to help them see their own potential. You might open their eyes to new possibilities by simply asking the question, “Have you ever thought about doing (fill in the blank)?” Take them on trips or plan projects that will stretch them and give them opportunities to explore their spiritual gifts.
We now have the largest number of college students in our nation’s history, and over half of them have never left home. The mission field is among us. If we are not engaging this generation of community college students, we are missing a great opportunity for impact right under our noses. What is your church doing to reach the college students next door?
[i] (Pew Research) 2013, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/08/01/a-rising-share-of-young-adults-live-in-their-parents-home/