I invited a handful of college students from our congregation over to my house yesterday afternoon for chili and conversation. We did this a few times last year, and I am eager to establish it as a fun gathering that keeps post high school youth attending local colleges connected to one another and to the church and that curates meaningful conversations about God and faith.
I’ve even got a Biblical scholar coming.
I made chili. I made cornbread. I put on cider. The scholar had a conversation about creation all teed up.
And one student came.
No doubt it was a valuable time for him, what with a free meal and some one-on-one prodding from an Old Testament expert, but it’s not the scale of participation I envisioned.
Before he left, the solitary participant observed that not enough had been done to invite people. I know he’s right, but I’m exasperated by the increasing complexity of communicating with individuals and groups using an ever-expanding network of digital and analog tools.
Three weeks ago I posed this gathering to a group of students using Facebook Messenger. Their reply was positive. So last Tuesday I posted the day and time on the Facebook page I’ve set up for college students. Yesterday I sent text messages to individuals to remind them.
That strategy feels scattershot, and it depends on me remembering to initiate communication pieces in the middle of doing lots of other things, none of which involve actually talking to these college students face-to-face. Is that what’s missing?
I asked my lone attendee for help in spreading the word about this the next time we do this, and with some insight as to the best possible day and time to do it. But it’s my job, ultimately.
That job is not to come up with event ideas to throw at people but to reach out to them with interest and to build relationships with them based on curiosity. That requires face time.
So, back to school with me then.