What a great outreach opportunity you and your church now have to help them stay connected to Christ and the Church while starting their new life in the workforce or venturing off to college!
It’s extremely meaningful for youth away from their family for the first time to regularly receive support and Godly encouragement from their church family. This outreach can help them tremendously during new or hard times and bring a familiar comfort of home and of Christ.
1. Learn the details
Get your hands on the necessary information to keep in touch. This may include their mailing address for when they move or go off to college, phone number, email address, and even social media platforms they use. You can do this by asking the youth themselves or by asking their parents. Two other important details to make note of would be their birthday and baptism day. Make getting this information a regular thing when one of your youth graduates. Make sure to update their address each year they return to college!
2. Make a plan
Now that you have this information, make it available to members through a bulletin announcement or other announcement and make a plan to use it. Without a plan, it’s easy to forget these things amidst the busyness of life. Some members might be great at remembering to write a letter, or sending a card, email or text. Some members might not be. Along with members individually keeping in touch, encourage a group of members to “adopt a youth” and plan out a schedule for keeping in touch. Your youth used to connect with the church four times a month (if they attended weekly) so don’t be afraid to connect with them at least once a month.
3. Connect away!
Encourage your members regularly, and if you have a plan, put it into action. It’s rare to write a handwritten note or letter these days to simply let someone know you are thinking of them and to remind them of the love that Jesus has for them. It’s also rare to write emails and texts of support and Godly encouragement. Imagine your youth opening a birthday card or baptism day card with a Christ-centered message and how special it would make them feel. All of these things are extremely important to keep your youth connected to Christ and the Church during these times of change and cultural pressures that are overwhelmingly contrary to Christ’s teachings.
Never lament the fact that your youth are graduating and leaving your church. Instead, look at it as an excellent opportunity to activate your entire church body to a critically important youth outreach ministry. Our churches are more than a place to worship on Sunday mornings. Our churches are an outreach ministry the entire week through. You can help your youth stay on their journey with Jesus so they don’t have to find their way back once lost. What an incredible opportunity!
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7
Mollie Clark, Director of Marketing for Lutheran Family Service and mother of two college-age daughters