Hannah is coming to your church this Sunday.

Until two weeks ago, Hannah lived at home. For the first time in her life, she is on her own and looking for stability.

Research shows that most of your college student visitors will be in the first three weeks of the school year. Are you ready for them?

Here is a sneak peak:

The college students that visit your church will either come because their mom/grandma nagged them, because they loved their youth group back home, or because a new friend invites them. Most that seek out a church have had some experience with church in the past.

College students are in a new situation. They are looking for ways to make their new life work. Those who have had faith in the past will reach out and try, at least once, to connect with God in a similar fashion.

These students need cheerleaders. They need opportunities to pour out their heart to God, and they need friends.

Hannah is going to be going to school full time, and working. She will live in the dorms, in an attempt to develop some independence and meet new friends.

Hannah is lonely and looking for a way to fit. If she comes to your church and no one talks to her, she isn’t likely to keep coming back.

Hannah and other kids who leave home for the first time have to figure out how to fill their off hours, fulfill their responsibilities, and find that “place” where they fit. A Christian group of friends can really help with this.

Here are a couple ideas:

Prepare a welcome pack for students. It should be something practical and fun, but also include online and in-person connection points. In Seattle, we might put together an kit with an umbrella, a travel mug, a pack of pens or a data drive, and coupons/gift cards to Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Panera Bread. In that pack we would also put an invite to the next hang out night, the next event, and a link to the online hangout spot (like the college Facebook page). This pack will cost you $10-25, but you are investing in the life of a young person who is going to change the world. Hannah is worth it.

DO NOT hand out the packets in service. Instead, take the opportunity to greet these new young people at the door (this means you’ll need to train your greeters on spotting new people) with a welcome packet and help them feel appreciated from the moment they walk in the door.

Also, plan a college-age event by the third week of school – something fun and unique. My first week in college, a bunch of guys took a bunch of Freshmen to the top of Gasworks Park hill in Seattle at about 10pm. This is a hill, on the edge of a lake, kind of in the heart of the city. What a unique experience to see the city from this perspective! All the lights were amazing. Then the leaders pointed out that each of those lights represented at least one person who needs to know Jesus. I think that moment defined my future as a city dweller. It also cemented me as part of a group of people. I was no longer alone.

Will you help Hannah connect?

Will you show her just how important she is?

Want more information on the kids coming to your university? Here are some sites to check out:

The Barna Group

College Ministry Thoughts

Hannah needs you to know she is there this week. She needs you to show her that she is significant, and that God really understands transitions. Will you take the time to help her connect? The friends we make in college are often our friends for life. You will be impacting Hannah for decades if you help her feel loved and valued today.

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The people in this “Coming to Your Church This Sunday” series aren’t real. They are a compilation of people we have known, read about, heard of and heard from throughout the years. If you see yourself in them, you just have a lot in common with the rest of the human race.