I still watch Survivor. Not ashamed to admit that.

And this week’s episode was the one (it happens each season) when the castaways’ loved ones get to visit. And it’s a powerful moment, even though the castaways have only been “away” for 20-something days. It’s a moment the contestants look forward to all season; when it comes, it’s emotional.

It reminded me that college ministers, too, have the opportunity to connect with families of their students, not just with students. Family members are naturally a little more remote, but even from the beginning there are touchpoints: orientations, drop-offs, Parents Weekends, and on through the year. And with a little effort (mostly through good communication), family members can be consistently involved from afar, too.

College ministers are in the unique position of shepherding people newly freed from home… that aren’t quite freed from home (in most cases). Connecting with family not only opens up ministry opportunities with those folks, but it helps students and their families as they adjust to this new situation – plus when families are Christian, it allows for some great shepherding synergy.