For many families this time of year is filled with anticipation and stress. Anticipation because summer is coming and that means planning for trips, no school, camps and clubs, relaxation, and family time. Stress because it means planning. But planning of a different nature for some families.
For families of seniors this time of year can be especially hard because they are dealing with sending out one of their children to college, or to begin the next step in their lives after high school. They are releasing their student into a whole new phase of life, and with this can come many unknowns. Will they continue in their faith? Will they make wise choices? Will they wake up on time? Will they eat more than Ramen and Tasty Cakes?
As we think through this upcoming stage in the lives of graduates, I want to offer some ways you can help parents and graduates prepare spiritually for college. This list is intended to help foster and develop conversations that are ongoing.
Encourage parents to spend time checking in on their student’s spiritual health. Parents can ask them what they have been reading in God’s Word, what they have been learning from youth group or Sunday services. They can also ask how they can be praying for their student. And they can spend time walking through God’s Word with them.
Talk about the importance of finding a church, not from a legalistic approach but in a manner to help your students and families understand the benefits of a church home and the community it provides. Talk about important factors to consider like doctrinal beliefs, and what they are looking for in a church. Understand that their views may differ on minor issues like worship style or preaching style, but ultimately make sure it is a doctrinally sound church.
Encourage families to talk through expectations for how their relationship will be with their student moving forward. Their student will be an adult who is living on their own, and they will be responsible for many of their decisions. This changes some relationship dynamics, but doesn’t mean they stop being their parents. Parents can allow for their child to stretch and grow, but can also intentionally connect and follow up with them. Parents can check on their spiritual health, ask where they are going to church, ask how they can pray for them.
Families can find out what churches are nearby and which Christian groups operate on campus. Campus Ministry Link is an amazing resource that allows families to check what college ministries operate on the campus students are considering or attending. It is easy and free to set up an account, and then search for any college. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it is a great starting point.
Help families get their student connected with the college ministry at your current church. This will be a community that offers safety and support for students, and allows for retention of friendships and community within their home church.
Some great resources for parents and their student to walk through leading up to college are: