There’s a difference between “running a program” and shepherding people – in campus ministry and any other form of ministry. And sometimes we can assess which one we’re leaning toward by whether we recognize the seasons and unique moments in the lives of those we serve.
So have you considered preparing students for (or otherwise encountering) the Thanksgiving break?
Don’t think this is a big deal? Certainly, you know your context and students better than I do. But here are thoughts I had about what Thanksgiving could mean for your students and your ministry.
- It may be the first more-than-a-weekend your freshman have been around their families.
- It’s a more concentrated time with family than many students have had this semester.
- Those few days can be used for lots of things: reading, rest, a special spiritual Sabbath or sabbatical, diligently attending to projects or other homework, etc.
- It’s a good time for praying through decisions: Like how God would have them use next summer, student leadership opportunities for next semester, what (and how many) classes they should take in the Spring, and what other opportunities might be worth adding (or dropping!).
- Immediate and/or extended families may provide a chance to share Christ to non-Christians.
- Some should consider staying local during Thanksgiving – have they prayed that through?
- It’s often a huge time to impact International Students (and anybody else who happens to stay in town).
- It gives students a “trial run” for using the Christmas Break well.
- Any spiritual disciplines developed over the semester will now face a real test – with the varied schedules, lack of community, and presence of families and other distractions.
Oh – and any preparation you do now will like apply to the upcoming (and much longer) Christmas Break, as well!
I could keep brainstorming, and so could you. In any case, it seems like Thanksgiving might be worth preparing students for – ideas on that to come.