Back to School: College Students and Kickoff

desksIt’s that time of the year.

Target and the local grocery stores turn into veritable labyrinths with stacks of bookcases and fans to the ceiling lining every open space. The roads feel slightly more clogged with cars and if you pay attention many of them have out-of-state license plates. More families are frequenting the local hot spot eateries looking slightly lost and out-of-place and taking much too long to order bagels.

There’s a crackle in the air. A little prickling of energy and excitement. I love it.

I’m getting ready for all the beginning-of-the-year activities – student fairs, kickoffs, catching up over coffee – and honestly realizing that lately I have had moments where I’m weary of conversations surrounding millenials and the young adult generation:

I’m getting a little sick of talking about millennials. I wonder if they’re sick of it too. @emmamo10 @aidalot @ericakliment @clairedoddy

— Mihee Kim-Kort (@miheekimkort) August 2, 2013

Are they really that special? Why are we so obsessed with them? Hasn’t every generation struggled with how to connect to younger generations? Still. I do think it’s important to keep thinking deliberately about what their lives are like right now in terms of faith, relationships, and the world. I’ve read through a much-recommended book called The Slow Fade: Why You Matter in the Story of Twentysomethings (The Orange Series). It’s written by a “senior pastor, a college pastor, and a twenty-something—rethink one-on-one mentorship as the way to end the slow fade. They offer insights and suggestions that will help anyone get started fighting the fade.” Truth be told there isn’t anything revolutionary here but that is an indication that the depth of outreach and ministry isn’t dependent on flashy new programs or the size of the auditorium or the volume of the band:

Halting the slow fade happens when adults start investing in college-aged people. Engaging their hearts and minds doesn’t require anything fancy; it requires a willingness toward mutual fascination with one another and an openness toward sharing a journey together.

Rachel Held Evans recently posted and Jonnie Russell wrote pieces on what Church should do to engage millenials. They both basically reiterate the need for simplicity but substance in our outreach. 

I’m sick of talking about millenials. Because they’re no different from you or me when it comes to what is necessary for survival and growth.

It’s serendipitous that Andy preached on Hebrews 11 and 12 these last couple of weeks. The image of the cloud is compelling in thinking about what surrounds young people today. Hearing the statistics on what freshmen have to navigate that first year – dark clouds of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, pressure to find a niche, and all while pursuing an education that will give them the skills for a job…It’s a lot. Sometimes it does seem a bit heavier than what I remember experiencing myself. But, I had a cloud of witnesses, too. And they surrounded me with prayers and presence, and that made all the difference.

Thank God I don’t have to do this alone. None of us has to do any of this alone. My prayer for the college students and young people I encounter is that they realize they are not alone, either. This seems like a decent way to kickoff the year.