Living at Home: Four Implications for College Ministry

by Ginger Bowman on June 22, 2016 in announcement

It's the preferred arrangement for a majority of young adults in the U.S. According to USA Today College, "A report released last week finds that living at home with parents is, for the first time in recorded history, the most common living arrangement among Americans ages 18-34."* Student loan debt, the rise of quality community college options, and the simple convenience of living with Mom and Dad make staying home an attractive option for students.

For churches, the implications are huge. This is a game changer for college ministry.

1. No longer can churches say "our college students all go away to school." Even if you have a group of students that go away to school, there are many students that are choosing to stay at home and go to a community college or take online classes to start their college education. You might just have to look for them. Often, because they are not "going away" they feel they no longer fit in their church. Be intentional about seeking them out and letting them know that they are valued.

2. You may be doing more parent ministry than ever before. Living at home has its challenges. Things stay the same in some ways, and yet they are different. Expectations from both parents and students can be mismatched. You can help students and their families navigate these new waters. For more on this topic see our articles from last year: The Parent Connection and Resources for Parents of Students.

3. You may need to help students grow up. “There’s the comfort of someone to help you out at all times. Having your meals ready and your laundry done for you takes the load off on the rest of the things you go through in college,” says one student who has chosen to stay at home in the article Millennials get real about moving back in with the 'rents. There is some maturity that comes naturally when students move away from home and are forced to make decisions for themselves. You can help by presenting them with challenging tasks, raising the bar in discipleship, and expecting them to relate to the church more as adults than they did as a youth.

4. Students with great leadership potential and influence are staying home. This is great news! Because of the trends and quality local education options, you will have students who can be great student leaders in your ministry. Seek them out early this summer. Invest in them. Disciple them. Find ways to challenge them to lead.

It's a great time to do college ministry in the local church. In fact, we must do college ministry in the local church, but we must adjust our methods to meet students and their families where they are today. What does your college ministry look like? Are you missing the ones that are staying at home? How can you adjust your ministry to reach them?
* Millennials get real about moving back in with the 'rents, USA Today College, June 2, 2016.

We'd love to hear how your church is reaching students who are staying at home. What challenges have you faced? Share it with us on our Facebook page.

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