Do you have volunteer leaders that serve in your college ministry? Or, are you doing it yourself? Finding and developing solid adult volunteers to serve in college ministry can be challenging. But, it’s worth the work, and here’s why.
1. Relationships matter to young adults. We have heard all of the reasons that young adults are leaving the church. “Yet,” says Dave Kinnaman, “among those who remain active, this much is clear: the most positive church experiences among Millennials are relational.”[i] From the Barna Millenials project:
When comparing twentysomethings who remained active in their faith beyond high school and twentysomethings who dropped out of church, the Barna study uncovered a significant difference between the two. Those who stay were twice as likely to have a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church (59% of those who stayed reported such a friendship versus 31% among those who are no longer active). The same pattern is evident among more intentional relationships such as mentoring—28% of Millennials who stay had an adult mentor at the church other than their pastor, compared to 11% of dropouts who say the same.i
The way that today’s students and young adults view and interact with the church is definitely different, but the constant is relationship. Students value those relationships. They need them.
2. Adults leaders fill in the gaps. Many young adults have grown up without the involvement of one or both parents in their lives. As they reach adulthood, they are looking for models to help them navigate this new season of life. They need people to help them with answers to their questions. Important questions, like: Do I need to go to college? What should I do with my life? Why shouldn’t I move in with my boyfriend/girlfriend? And the not so huge, but still important questions: How do I finance a car? Is that oil can light on my dash important? Do I really need to go to class? Can’t I just wash my light and dark clothes together?
And let’s face it, even if they have great parents, sometimes they don’t want to hear it from them. Or, at least, it’s good to hear those same things from someone else who is not a parent. Who will they listen to? Who will they allow to speak into their lives?
3. It’s Biblical. Jesus did ministry relationally. He invested his personal time into the 12. He built relationships with them. He ate with them, asked good questions, and shared what he knew. The model of the early church is discipling relationships, from Paul and Barnabas taking John Mark on their missionary journey, to Paul’s relationship with Timothy. And let’s not forget the ministry models in his letters to Timothy and to Titus, older adults in the church teaching and mentoring the younger ones.
Titus 2- You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
4. You personally don't have the relational surface area to minister to all of the students in your college ministry. You don't. College ministry is by nature highly relational. Students want and need adults in their lives for advice, discipleship and as models for the Christian life. Trying to be all of those things for every student in your ministry will leave you exhausted and will fall short of what your students need. As great as you may be, you are not enough.
Maybe you know all of that already, but you're still trying to do it anyway, because finding volunteer leaders to serve in your college ministry is hard. And, that’s where we will pick up next week.
[i] 5 Reasons Millennials stay connected to church,barna.org, Barna Group, 2013.