College students are a resource for youth ministry, and ministry with college students is critical leadership development work for the church. While I’ve never been super successful at utilizing undergraduates in weekly youth ministry programs, having them along as leaders on mission trips has provided some of the best opportunities for coaching and mentoring I’ve ever enjoyed.
For high school youth, a college student is what’s next. 18-23 year olds hold out for our junior and seniors what engaged faith looks like in the season of life that’s coming up. That is something that I can’t provide, being 40–nearly half my life removed from the exuberance and idealism of the university years. Whenever I can get a college student who cares about making the world better in front of my high schoolers, I do it.
Even if they’re rough around the edges or lacking in confidence, I can work with that. My own experience at that age convinces me that young adults pre-commencement are looking for adults outside their academic environment to give them grown up responsibility and to coach them in getting better. Those people, for me, were coffee shop managers and pastors, both roles that are uniquely positioned to make significant investments in the lives of growing college-age youth.
Here’s what’s prompted this collegiate reflection: we’ve hired our summer staff for Urban Youth Mission at Fourth, and we still have some weeks with openings for youth to come and experience them. As much as the service they’ll perform and the learning they’ll gather by being immersed in the urban Chicago experience, youth who spend a week with us this summer will get to experience our talented and growing college staff. There is real value in that.
Click here to find out how to bring a group this summer.