Helping students get to church


New students on campus may want to try out some local churches, but probably don’t know where to begin. Here are some tips for helping students get to church this fall and keeping momentum going throughout the year:

In the fall:

  1. At your first several large group meetings, pass out a list of recommended churches to everyone. Explain why being part of a local church is important. Help them see that InterVarsity is not a substitute for the local church, and encourage them to find a church home if they have not already done so. (See Why should I go to church? and Finding a Church for more on this topic.)
  2. Appoint someone to coordinate transportation to local churches, allowing for rotation each week to different churches while students are still in the selection process.
  3. Small-group leaders can encourage their members to worship and participate in a local church. Both chapter leaders and small-group leaders should be exemplary models of regular participation in a local church, even though their leadership duties on campus may limit the amount they can do.
  4. Develop creative promotion for attending church. Have students give testimonies about how their local church involvement at college has helped them. Try coming up with a skit dealing with all the usual excuses for not regularly attending church (such as a bad experience in the past, thinking that your campus group is enough, students being too busy or too tired, church being too early or too far). Point out, too, that it’s not just what you get out of church, but also what you give that will make it worthwhile.
  5. Post a list of local churches and meeting times on your chapter web site, including the name of a driver whom students can contact for a ride.
  6. Try to set a goal for participation. Urge students to find a church to attend regularly (not church hopping or skipping) by no later than the end of the semester (preferably by the end of the first four to six weeks). It’s much harder to have people change their schedules after their commitments have solidified.

In the spring:

  1. Meet annually or biannually with local church leaders for mutual upbuilding, communication and planning.
  2. Inquire about student or associate church membership for those away from their home churches.
  3. Ask your local church to recognize your campus as a mission field to which they would commission you and others in service and witness as missionaries. Give reports and ask for prayer and financial support.
  4. Invite your pastor(s) and other members to speak at large groups and retreats, not only to benefit from their wisdom, but also so they can better identify with your needs and pray with and care for you. Perhaps they could provide regular help on campus.
  5. Ask one or more churches to adopt international students into host families, thus helping the church fulfill its role in worldwide evangelization.

There are many other ways you can be involved in a local church while in InterVarsity. And you can help your chapter members to grow and to build Christ’s kingdom by helping them to serve in both expressions of the people of God.

—Chris Keidel