A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about helping new Freshmen transition from high school to college life. As you probably realize, Transitions ministry is one of the toughest – and yet most vital – areas we can invest in!
At the time, I promised a simple outline you could use in this endeavor… and then I never posted it. My bad.
So, without further ado, here is one of many possible teaching series you could use with freshmen this summer (or even at the start of a school year). Even if you don’t use this outline, maybe it’ll get you thinking about needs and goals for Transitions Ministry.
6 Decisions to Make This Summer
As I was praying through preparing our church’s high school grads, I realized they needed to make some key decisions over the summer – before the school year hit.
But with this theme, instead of just teaching – “you should do this” – I could simply place decisions before the students: life or death, blessing or curses. It’s their call, but I can be gut-level honest with them about the choices they have before them.
There was also a pretty great buy-in from students, since many are genuinely curious – or even scared – about what’s ahead of them.
I didn’t get the chance to finish the series, so I can’t claim it works wonders! But here are the topics I was aiming for:
1. Decide about Wisdom
This message was meant to “fuel” the rest of the series. I needed to raise students’ felt need to get wisdom before they started school, because they really do need it – and even if they’re a little nervous, they don’t know HOW much wisdom they’re gonna need.
Getting wisdom means taking advantage of the wisdom around them (upperclassmen, spiritual leaders, myself, parents, etc.) and especially begging God for wisdom – now and once they start school. Wisdom is much needed and not much possessed among college students, right?
2. Decide about God
The idea here is choosing – before you go to school – to take God personally. Spiritual disciplines fit here, of course, but so do other personal spiritual practices. A major point is connecting with God on a personal level, regardless of what people around you are up to (or whether or not they push you to plug in to Jesus).
Obviously, this is the foundational decision for life; the rest build on this theme.
3. Decide about Lordship
Will God really be Lord of my life when I go to college? I betcha students who contemplate this question beforehand are more likely to choose Lordship once they’re on campus! This theme deals with integrity and holiness issues (following God’s rules we know) and direction issues (deciding we’ll let God tell us what to do) for all the decisions they’ll be making.
4. Decide about Love
Students may not realize it, but loving those around them will be a decision, not an automatic. Roommates, dormmates, professors, fellow students, non-Christians, Christians… they all need our love. This can be a place, too, to emphasize the need to find loving community with other Christians. For some of your students, participation in community may come easy, but others need to hear that God doesn’t want us to be Lone Ranger Christians.
5. Decide about Church
This is your chance to teach biblical churchmanship, even if they didn’t learn it in Youth Group. Help students decide that they will find a church to plug in to. Help them get over the initial hurdles (“I can’t find a church like my home church,” church-hopping forever, deciding on non-negotiables, etc.). And help them begin to search for a church NOW… remember, the Internet can work wonders in this area, even before students ever get to school.
6. Decide about Adventure
That’s right – adventure. In my world, that’s another word for “commitment,” and students need to decide to be committed, wild-eyed Jesus people when they get to college. But that kind of adventure also means follow-through with the commitments they make. Devotion to the things God has called them to (even studies and family and friends). Not always getting all the sleep they want. Not always doing all the things they want. It’s an adventure – it’s not supposed to be smooth!
Knowing how to choose commitments fits here, too.
But adventure also means adventure. Where I was headed with this was helping my students not demand (or expect) a tidy, all-my-ducks-in-a-row kind of life. For many students, knowing how to navigate – and even enjoy – this adventure will be a big key to collegiate success.
So there you have it! Hopefully that’s some good food for thought.
Written from the ULM BCM, Monroe, Louisiana.