Today's guest Back to School post is from Alan Mercer, Executive Pastor of the Leawood campus of Christ Community Church in Kansas City, KS. Alan was part of the 2011 Sticky Faith Cohort.
After hearing from the Fuller Youth Institute about the importance of the first week of a college student's experience, we decided to do something.
Through research with college students, FYI found that new students make significant choices about friends, partying, and attending church or campus ministries within the first week or two of arriving on campus. One suggestion to help college students have a successful transition to the university campus was to have someone in the church write them a note within the first week of their arrival.
Last fall we took this challenge and our pastoral team took a few minutes during a staff meeting to stuff some “care packages” made up of small items college students might find useful. Then, our senior pastor wrote each student a hand-written note. The packages were shipped and we received a number of positive comments from students that they felt loved and cared for right out of the gate during a time of real challenge.
This fall, we plan to expand this process. We are not only going to send something to college freshmen, but we are also including last year’s freshmen as well. Our thinking is to add one class a year until all of our college students are on the list every year. Also, rather than the pastoral team doing all of the work, we are putting flat-rate boxes out at church with instructions for congregation members to pick them up.
Much like an “Angel Tree” kind of project, community groups, families, or individuals can grab a box for someone they know or someone they don’t know and fill it with goodies. Our prayer is that this simple gesture helps to keep our students connected to a family of believers that loves them.