I actually had the thought for this week’s College Ministry Fridea before I watched Back to the Future on Thursday, but now I’m really excited to share a method for reaching into your students’ future…
The Fridea: Have your college students “disciple” their future selves (by writing a note).
I certainly didn’t make up this idea! Maybe even some of you had teachers, youth leaders, or others do this for you. My Venture Dynamics instructor had us write something to ourselves 5 years later (though sadly, I don’t think she ever sent me mine later on). And I’ve done it since in at least one church service I attended on my trips around the country!
Anyway, the basic details:
- Students write on a 3.5 card, a sheet of paper, or even an email (though this would mean you’d be able to read it).
- They might be writing something specific – like reactions to a message or a recent series. It might be more general – like an encouragement (to their future selves) to keep following Christ. The topic and how you communicate it are the most important variables in this, so don’t let those decisions be overshadowed by the details on how to do it.
- Depending on the purposes here, the students might seal it up in an envelope and address it to themselves.
- Depending on the time frame involved, you may only need their name. Or maybe they put their present school address (if they’ll receive it later that year), their summer address (if you’ll send it to them that summer), or the best chance of a “permanent” address – like their parents’ address (if you’ll be sending it years later).
- After collection, you resend them their notes in the future.
Some variations on this:
- It’s possible to do this in secret. Depending on how you set it up, you can have students turn in something without telling them you’ll be resending it sometime.
- You could do this with notes written by someone else, too. What if you wrote a note – 6 months early – to each of your leadership team members, or to each of the freshmen who visit your ministry? (You could get student leaders to do this, too.)
- Giving leadership applications (from the front of the year) back to your leadership team (at the end of the year). That’s a pretty cool way to remember God’s work.
- If you really wanna encourage, you could always send present alumni things of theirs from their time in the ministry (like the applications mentioned above).
- You could also make the delivery time variable: For example, you could have students write an encouragement to themselves, and you deliver it if / when they face hard times this school year. Or students could write themselves an exhortation to purity, to be delivered if / when they start dating someone!
Yes, I know that’s the DeLorean from Back to the Future II, but it’s the picture I got… when I passed a bunch of very cool movie-related cars (notice the R2D2 car in front!) in California on Road Trip 13. Shock-fact: most of your students were born several years after Back to the Future was released… And in case you were wondering, “Venture Dynamics” was a Kinesiology class about ropes courses and get-to-know-you games. Awesome.