On most Sundays these days, you will see a balcony full of college students at the first service. However, you will also find some serving in the nursery at the same time. After worship, college students briefly fill the hallway outside the sanctuary as they begin to make their way into Showker Hall for a college brunch. There are also some students who will head upstairs to teach our children’s Sunday school as they partner with other covenant partners to disciple our children.
I love going into Showker Hall each week and seeing different people from our church blessing our college students by greeting them with a smile, a friendly greeting and tables full of food for the brunch. One or two individuals, families or a small group are now providing a brunch for 20 to 25 students and leaders each week. We have been so blessed while we eat to sit around two to four tables led by adults who want to get to know the students better. We also spend some time discussing the morning’s sermon. These have been very fruitful times of sharing, digging into God’s Word and seeing how we are living out God’s call on our lives.
These Sunday-morning brunches have been the catalyst and foundation for college students to then get to know others in our church, to be known and then be challenged to find other ways to serve and lead. Many have chosen to get involved on a regular basis in our children’s and youth ministries. They have taught Sunday school, led youth discipleship small groups on Sunday nights, gone on youth retreats and shared their testimonies with our youth.
Two college students recently started a Bible study at church on Wednesday nights for the JMU men’s lacrosse team. Others have taken on leadership roles in our worship services on Ash Wednesday and Sunday mornings.
Outside First Pres, many of the students are leaders in their campus parachurch ministries. I have been able to witness some being called into full-time vocational ministry this year. I have witnessed many going on Spring Break mission trips and going overseas to share the Gospel. We have been able to support them as they go on men’s retreats, as we host women’s retreats and praise-band practices. They have served at our church by leading Young Life, Wyldlife at Thomas Harrison, and Young Life Capernaum clubs. They have been able to join us in our evangelistic efforts to reach out to other college students at church, on campus and in neighborhoods.
I can’t count all the blessings over this past year that we have received as a church from our college students and those coming alongside them to help grow this vital ministry.
You can be part of it. Pray for these students. Get to know a few. Introduce yourselves to them. Find ways to serve them or get involved. Ask yourself if you could help meet a need that they may have. Or maybe they can help meet a need that you may have. Let me know how we can better make connections with one another and continue to grow as an intergenerational church where we bless and serve one another for His Glory.