Campus Ministry Matters

Campus Ministry: A Ministry beyond Itself

Minding the Gap: The Befores and Afters of Campus Ministry Part II


Transitioning out


In our line of work, there is inevitability (or at least we hope there is inevitability).  There is an end to the journey of college for students, and most of the time it is graduation day.  But what happens after this?  How do we as campus ministers help our students transition from the time of college to the period of young adulthood that begins to mark an end to their time in campus ministry?  Maybe there is also the question of when is the end as well in there.


I always have a love and hate relationship with the college senior.  On one hand, there is a remarkable change that has occurred between that freshman who was nervous, scared, and even at times homesick to this now semi-adult who seems confident (except in job prospects) and has started to figure the world out for themselves.  I enjoy the opportunity to help them make those final decisions as they prepare for graduation or start writing grad applications.


But the hated part of the relationship is wishing them goodbye, knowing how much their departure will affect the community while also realizing that the time has come. So what happens next?  Do we retain these students because they are staying in the area and are really a part of the community?  Do we nurture their exits throughout the summer and then when fall comes wave goodbye to them?  Perhaps all of these are correct.


Building partnerships with local congregations tends to be my best approach to this situation.  This is for a number of reasons.  First, I have students who are not sure of denomination and so need some variety from which to have a chance to consider where they might fit in.  Secondly, I can know which congregations I’m going to recommend to my students because they are typically welcoming to college students and hold similar values that the students have both figured out and started to articulate throughout their journey of college.  If I spend my time to help these students find a faith community that allows them to continue the journey, especially with leadership opportunities, then perhaps my job with them is complete.

What I fear though is that many of our students are not finding community in local churches.  What tends to happen is a very deep and powerful college ministry experience, wherein these students start to articulate themselves and dig deep in their faith only to walk away once they have completed their time at the University.  This isn’t helping anything, because although they have gained this great experience, we want them to lead at the next level, at the level where transformation of the institution might take place and where faith becomes a lifetime lived experience.


So what do you do?  How do you transition your students to the next step?  Do you spend time with them helping to find local churches?  Do you make connections to congregations and communities that intentionally welcome young adults?  Are you ministering to these students long after they graduate because that’s the only community they have ever found?  And what are the things we must do to stand in a gap between college and the post-college young adulthood and beyond.  Are work can not be done when the graduate walk ends? There is still a transition that needs to take place.


Please comment, provide insights, and ask questions.  Have a wonderful day.

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