-submitted by Travis Flora
What to do with our kids when they leave for college….
It’s a problem congregations have faced for years, and Holly Hill is no exception. After all, in many cases, we’ve seen these kids grow up. Many were born and raised in our congregation. Our kids have gone to each other’s birthday parties. They’ve been to youth rallies together. They’ve brought their friends to VBS. They’re part of the church family.
And then….they leave. The unfortunate fact is that once they leave mom and dad and the structure of the home, they also stop attending worship. They are no longer “made” to “go to church,” so….they don’t.
That’s a problem. So, again, what is a congregation to do? Is there anything we can do? Is it really our responsibility to do anything at all?
At Holly Hill, we’re answering both of those questions with a big YES!
Last year, Robert Roach’s Sunday morning Bible class started a program called EdifyU. Headed up by Mary Sue Flora, Becky Stratton and Dana Dill, the class gathered up the names and contact information of every college student associated with Holly Hill and gave that information to members of the Bible class. The list of students includes our students who are from Holly Hill and have gone away to school, as well as students from around the country who have moved to Frankfort to attend Kentucky State University and who are worshipping with us while they’re here.
Class members volunteered to “adopt” a student or two and come up with ways to encourage the students while they are at school. The first responsibility everyone in the class is given is to pray for their students.
Next, they find ways to stay in touch with the students. This includes things like sending cards and letters, Facebook and email messages, making phone calls, and even sending small gifts and care packages.
The whole idea is to let the students know they’re not alone when they leave. They have a great support network here at Holly Hill that cares for them and is praying for them. Best of all, they know that God supports them, and we are praying for their success.
My family was new to Holly Hill when this program started, and it really impressed me that we would even take on a project like this. It’s something I’ve advocated for years at other congregations we’ve attended. I think of the many times Paul mentions the prayers of various churches who supported his missionary efforts. The church in Antioch didn’t stop supporting Paul through prayers and other means just because he left on a missionary trip.
Unfortunately, I was recently reminded that not everyone shares that philosophy. I heard of an announcement made just a few weeks ago at another, more legalistic congregation. The preacher/elder stood up and announced that several young people would soon be leaving for college. Since they were no longer going to be attending regularly, they would no longer be considered members of that congregation. They would be visitors any time they returned. Very stiff. Very formal. And as far as I can see, I can’t find the authority for their actions.
But besides that…..Wow. Talk about not letting the door hit you on the way out! Reminds me time and time again of how glad I am to be at Holly Hill.
Instead of finding ways of isolating ourselves from the world, we need to look for ways to REACH and support those we come in contact with, whether it be strangers in need, or our own members as they head out on the next phase of their lives.
EdifyU is building relationships. It is encouraging those who may be lonely and building up those who may be feeling vulnerable in their decisions regarding their faith.
EdifyU is important, to our college students, to our congregation, and to the Lord’s church wherever it may be. So if you get the chance, get involved with EdifyU and REACH and support our college students.
REACH is the focus of our midweek blog. Christ’s Great Commission is for His people to “go” into the world, spreading His gospel. This includes all aspects of the good news, both teaching the Word, as well as showing the benevolence toward others that Christ showed through His living example. These blogs will highlight opportunities at Holly Hill for us to REACH into the world around us and make a difference for Christ.