10 Ways to Stay Connected with Your Church’s High School Graduates

Over the next several weeks, our churches will celebrate with high school seniors as they graduate, and many of those graduates will pack to begin their college career. Regrettably, churches too often lose touch with the students they helped raise when they go away to school. Perhaps these ideas will help your church avoid that tendency:

  1. Commission students as missionaries to their campuses. That’s what they are, actually, even if they’re going to a Christian campus. Challenge them with this responsibility. Send them out officially as your representative, and then purposefully stay in touch with them.
  2. Establish one person responsible for overseeing this church-student connection ministry. This ministry will take some intentionality and work, so find someone who can take the lead. A couple who can reach out to male and female students would be great. 
  3. Develop a prayer network for graduates. Much as you would for other missionaries, raise up prayer warriors who will intercede weekly for each graduate. Use Facebook, email, or some other approach to keep in touch with the students and learn of their prayer needs.
  4. Provide a scholarship with accountability. Offer some academic funding for deserving students, but hold them accountable to getting plugged into a strong local church where they attend school. Even a few hundred dollars can help buy some books – and give you permission to check on your graduate.
  5. Develop small group partnerships with each graduate. The ministry a small group can have in adopting high school graduates is huge. Think about it – offering prayer support, inviting them to join the group via Skype, sending care packages, remembering them on their birthdays, praying for them during exam week, etc. 
  6. Provide financial assistance for computer filters. In my opinion, most young people need a filter that makes it harder to find pornography. When they move away from home, help them fight ungodliness by purchasing them a filter program for one year.
  7. Provide weekly video updates for college students. Just a 5 or 10-minute online update will keep them informed about your church and give them a little taste of home when they get lonely. 
  8. Do Skype mentoring. Aim for all interested graduates having a mentor who meets with them once a month via Skype or FaceTime. Given the electronic access we have today, we have little excuse not to stay in touch with these young people.
  9. Assist them in finding a good church in their college setting. They’re more likely to get connected to a local body if they already have some connection before they get there. Introduce them to somebody on the ground in their university setting.
  10. Plan “homecoming” events during breaks. Don’t wait to find out who’s coming home to plan something. Instead, plan something and invite them to come. Make them want to stay connected with their church. 

What would you add to this list?








  • Cynthia Garman says:

    Great list. I would add…

    1) On-site visits if possible by lay leaders and pastor – just one on one – not a team showing up! Take them for great lunch or dinner. Invest in them. An elder leader in my childhood Methodist district council (in PA) called to say he was visiting in Tucson where I was a student at the Univ. of AZ. Far from home, the connection of a few hours and a meal was monumental for me to continue with studies and church attendance while far away from home. Even 100 miles away, a student can feel lost and succumb to the slow slide away from their faith. My welcomed visit (he happened to have also been our rural mailman when I was growing up) is memorable – perhaps unusual for a 2K mile distance from my home church. Our older members do move around in retirement and may delight in such a connection too. Cross generational.

    2) Send nationally recognized pizza gift cards just before finals when studying is in deep progress or could be used to celebrate being finished!

    3) Let appropriate college chaplain know that your member is headed to their institution.

    4) Take pictures of waving church members, of all ages, and add well wishes to post on facebook, or whatever current social media is appropriate.

    5) What’s some suggestions for staying in touch with graduating youth headed for the military?
    How about youth headed to trade schools, often community colleges where they may be near to home? And for those attending area colleges where peers may encourage a slide to St. Mattress on Sunday mornings?

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks, Cynthia, for these thoughts. Readers, any ideas for connecting with the last groups Cynthia mentions?  

  • Benji says:

    On looking for a new church – which many would have never had to do before – John MacArthur offers some good advice – http://www.gty.org/resources/Questions/QA121/What-should-I-look-for-when-choosing-a-new-church-home?q=what+to+look+for+in+a+church

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