The following suggestions were compiled by Laurie Day, an alum from Willamette University, and Janet Cromwell, Wesley Foundation Director at the University of Oregon.
Welcoming College Students at Church
Young adults are soon heading back to college. Is there a college campus near your church or in your community? Your church can make a big difference in the life of a college student. Here are some fun and easy ways to welcome college students who visit your congregation. They’ll appreciate your efforts and your church will be enriched by their participation.
- Make a point to meet and speak to college students when they come to church. Feeling welcomed is the #1 concern of students who attend a new church.
- Invite students to sit with you during worship so they don’t sit alone.
- Treat a student to lunch after worship. Whether it be at home or a local restaurant, students will appreciate an invitation to talk and eat a meal that was not prepared at the dining hall.
- Bring extra food for after-church potlucks and invite the students to stay for lunch. Most students do not have kitchen facilities to prepare a potluck dish, but they want to participate in church activities.
- Make a personal phone call to a student who attends your church on Sunday morning, and answer any questions they may have about your congregation.
- Take a student for coffee during the week following their visit at church.
- Offer to drive students to worship.
- Send birthday cards, a bookmark, or words of encouragement throughout the year. Students love mail.
- Include college students on your Church Newsletter mailing list.
- Offer Sunday School classes on topics of interest to young adults.
- Organize a fellowship activity for college students.
- Present a plant to every new student who attends worship.
- Include students in worship, inviting them to read scripture, usher, or serve as a communion steward.
- Create “care packages” for students before finals week. Cookies, small toys, pens, sticky notes, stuffed animals, and even a Slinky would be great gifts for stressed out students. Enclose a note wishing them well on their exams.
- Adopt a student for a year, inviting them to meals and calling to be sure they are all right.
- Include students in your family’s holiday activities. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are hard times to be far away from home.
- Design a flier describing your local church and post it in the Student Union on campus. Be sure to include worship times and a map to your church.