It's your senior year in high school, and all is right with the world. You've worked hard to be on top and have all of those senior privileges. You celebrate. You're family celebrates. Even your church celebrates. Nothing quite prepares you for the crash that is to come in the fall when you're a lowly freshman again, this time outside of the comforts of the youth group.
Dual Citizenship. The transition from the youth group to the college group can be difficult, and even more so if students are making that transition at the same time that they are starting classes on a new campus. You can help them make the transition more smoothly by starting it early when they are still celebrating graduation. Give them "dual citizenship" in the youth and college ministries. Think of it as the best of both worlds.
Combine classes. Consider combining the senior Bible study class with a class/classes of college students. It is often difficult for senior class Bible study teachers to give up that senior group. So, invite the teachers to join the seniors in the college class for the summer months and co-teach the class with the current college teacher. Both will benefit from having a backup for times they may be away over the summer, and students get to continue with the leaders they have grown to love while getting acquainted with the college leaders.
What about the youth group? Allow graduating seniors to continue attending mid-week youth gatherings, camps and mission trips over the summer, but also invite them to be a part of college events and fellowships. These days will be special memories for them as they are a part of their last official youth events. However, they also need time to become familiar with the college group, especially if the college group is not largely made up of people who were a part of the youth ministry.
Plan summer ministry. You will want to be intentional in planning college fellowships and activities that would be a good fit for these incoming students. Home-cooked meals, pool parties and short-term mission projects can all be good options. Encourage active college students and leaders to invite and get to know new students. By the time school starts, relationships have already been formed, and coming to the college ministry is not a hill to climb but a regular part of their week.
Want to know more about reaching incoming freshmen? Check out last week's The Class of 2016. Coming to a Campus Near You and other articles on our website. Be sure to check out the resources on our site just for incoming freshmen at http://texasfreshmen.com.