In my experience as a Baptist Student Ministry director, I see that once Christian college students start college life, the academic, social and financial demands, not to mention a new environment and new lifestyle, can make a well-intended college student put God on the back burner.
I understand how we could think Christian college students should remain close to God, specially those who were active in youth group and attended summer camp for several years. Unfortunately this is not the case for many students.
So, what can we do about this? How can we help a college student stay close to God?
Here are 5 suggestions I believe will help:
Here is one reason for this: it is needed. College students need prayer. They face so many challenges each day that makes them extra vulnerable. I meet with students who are stressed, heartbroken, insecure about the future, feeling depressed and more. I know that behind all this, there is a spiritual battle going on that can only be won through prayer.
Pray for them. Pray for focus in their lives and for the Holy Spirit to minister to them as the good counselor.
Some think encouraging someone entails sharing a few good words. Things like, "you can do this," or "I believe in you." Saying this to a college student is a good thing, but it is only one aspect of encouraging them. You can also encourage them by doing things like sending a care package, buying a gift card to a coffee place or restaurant, sending a card in the mail, and most importantly, constantly reminding them that you are proud of them.
Believe in college students always. Yes, they will fail at times like we all do, but they need to know they are trusted and that you are there for them. Empowering a college student is helping them not only do what they have to do but helping them become who God wants them to be. You empower them by believing in them.
If they are away, visit them, maybe not as often, but in regular fashion. Show up with a smile and take them and their friends out for dinner or coffee. When you do, pray, affirm and ask how you can pray for them at that moment. If they are commuting to college from home, still make it a point to set up a time to meet close to the campus and talk. The context of being close to the campus will help.
Encourage college students to network. The value of networking in college is connecting with other people who share the same interests. Help them connect with a campus ministry like BSM where they can meet others who are followers of Jesus. This will be a game-changer in making sure Christian college students remain close to God.
Robert Rueda serves as the Baptist Student Ministry Director in the Rio Grande Valley. His passion is to mobilize students for global impact in God's name. Robert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.