For most college ministers, a good segment of their students go home for the summer.

Have you ever thought about using this moment to see how well your instruction about church involvement has “sunk in”?

I realize it’s a weird season – they’re only home for a short time, and they may be heading on vacation with family or have other activities that keep them busy. So I’m not advocating some sort of hard-line assessment.

But I do think that it’s worth observing how well your students plug in to their “home church” when they return, especially if it’s a church they’ve already been connected to previously. Do they see attendance as important? And much more importantly, do they see significant involvement as valuable? Are they willing to jump into the college ministry or young adult ministry (if there is one), find a small group, enjoy the men’s or women’s ministry, volunteer somewhere in the church, etc.?

What does their actual involvement in church this summer show about their understanding of connecting to a body of believers?

Again, I think this is one of those chances to observe and learn, rather than harshly assess them (or your ministry). It is summer, and summer is weird.

So maybe more evidently, it’s a good chance for students to practice. Because one of these days, they’ll leave college and go home (or elsewhere) for the final time, and it will indeed be a moment to plug in to a church. (And hopefully that will happen in a matter of weeks or days, not months.)

And the church God leads them to might not have a specialized Young Adult ministry, may not have any of their friends (at first), and may require some effort on their part that collegiate-season church hasn’t. They may have to make awkward introductions to the pastor and let someone (or everyone) know they’re ready to be connected and used and known.

Not unlike this summer.

So the summers are a potential practice round, a time you could challenge students to see just how well they get involved at church back home. (It’d be fun to hear their stories if this actually became a well-heeded challenge in your ministry.)

Either way, this is a chance for all college ministers to proclaim the importance of church involvement, and probably a chance to practice and assess.