In the coming weeks, soon-to-be college freshmen will be leaving the comfort and familiarity of your church to transition into an entirely new environment at college. They’ll be living on their own, making new friends, and—hopefully—doing their own laundry.
This transition brings up mixed emotions for students—excitement, pride, anxiety, fear, and sadness, just to name a few! A send-off event or recognition ceremony is one of the best ways to encourage these students and remind them of your congregation’s ongoing support.
Invite everyone in your church family to participate in the send-off event.
- Members of your senior ministry can put together small care packages to give to each student. Include typical items like laundry soap, snacks, and school supplies. And don’t forget to give each care package a special touch—a personalized magnet with the student’s favorite Bible verse, a heartfelt greeting card, or even a batch of homemade cookies. CTA’s Journey On . . . Never Alone gifts also make great additions to any college care package. Give a gift book to each student and be sure to write a personalized message inside the front cover.
- Members of your men’s ministry and women’s ministry groups can organize a BBQ meal as part of the send-off event. You might even let the students request a few special dishes!
- Encourage the teens from your ministry group to create a slideshow that features photos from the college students’ time in your ministry. Let this be a fun activity—add in silly quotes, popular music, and “inside” jokes.
- Your church and youth group staff can take care of the recognition ceremony. Prepare a short speech to reflect on each student and announce his or her future plans.
When the large event is over, take time to gather with the students for a small-group devotion. Consider using one of CTA’s graduation ministry messages—you can download them for free in our Resource and Idea Center. This is the time to let the students know how much you’ve enjoyed watching them grow in faith and to assure them that God will be with them through every step of the college transition.