School has started for some and it will be starting for most others within the next month. What is your congregation going to do for those students and teachers? Do you have plans for how you will support them and encourage them? Are you being intentional about taking action or just passively watching? Here are some ideas for how you can be a blessing to teachers and students:
*Have a time when you pray over teachers and students and the year/experiences to come. Be sure to send an invitation to the teachers and students in your congregation and you also might communicate to the community this event and to welcome anyone who would come.
*Have a prayer partner for each teacher or student. Have the prayer partner available to regular lift up concerns and needs as well as let the person know that they are valued.
*Host some special event (for high school or especially college students) during breaks. This may be meeting for lunch or dinner, going out to a movie or special event, or it might be having a special class for them.
*Collect supplies for teachers or for students who need them. You might adopt a teacher(s) or school.
*Create a resource pool that has tutors in various topics. This can be to help both those struggling in basic classes or in advanced classes. I know of a college statistics professor who helped those in higher math courses. I also know of a congregation that offered one day a week of tutoring in various basic topics.
*Offer a pool of alumni from various universities to help provide knowledge, contacts, and support. Having someone who knows the ‘ins and outs’ can greatly smooth the way for new freshman as well as upper classman. It can also help remove some of the fear in the transition to university life.
*Collect information about various church related universities and make it available to high schoolers.
*Select specific dates to send packages to students. Each year before students leave for college we obtain a list of favorite snacks, room colors, and mailing addresses. Then we send packages of cookies, snacks, cards of support, nick nacks, popcorn, or whatever is appropriate for the person. This helps maintain a connection, provides times of affirmation and positive surprise, and expresses love and care.
*Think about how to support parents and siblings of freshman going off to college. How can you help them with the changes and various feelings being experienced? Perhaps have a gathering for college parents periodically, provide articles about the transition, or offer a sounding board for their feelings and experiences.
*Supply a packet of gift cards to fast food restaurants in the college town they attend.
*Perhaps the most powerful is to encourage church members to send cards and letters. Talk about special memories and well wishes.
July 19, 2014