Another thing we’re trying to develop is a better approach to helping our seniors transition to college. We now ask all our 12th grade small group leaders to not take on a new group of 6th or 9th graders after their students have graduated. Nor do we just assume that they’re done working with their students. Rather, we ask them them to stick with their students for one more year while they go through their first year of college, wherever that may be. That’s Sticky Faith’s “4+1”. We’re asking our leaders to be with their students for four years during high school plus one year in college. (Actually, we ask all our leaders to stick with their kids all the way through beginning in Middle School 6th grade making our formula “7+1”.)
We now ask them to intentionally pursue their students, contact them on a regular basis, make phone calls, send text messages, Facebook or Twitter messages, birthday cards, care notes, and even care packages. We’re encouraging them to gather their groups over the holiday breaks and talk about what they’ve been experiencing at college. We’re also encouraging them to help their students get connected with a church or campus ministry in whatever new community they’re in. The goal is to see each student who was active in our ministry as high school students become actively engaged in Christian community of some sort by the middle of their Freshman year. (A friend and colleague of mine has put together CollegeMinConnect.com as a means of helping students get connected with churches with college ministries while at college. Check it out) Of course, we’re reminded that the most critical time of connecting to Christian community is that first week on campus.
We don’t have it all figured out. Our leaders aren’t all consistent with this. But the concept is understood and the goal is in front of us. This is a growing edge for us and I pray that we will be able to embrace the necessary habits to really make this work.