Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How my church is connecting to young adults April 11, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I purchased Scripture cards from christianbook.com to enclose in the greeting cards.

I purchased peace-themed Scripture cards from christianbook.com to enclose in the greeting cards.

FOR AWHILE NOW I’ve thought my church, Trinity Lutheran in Faribault, should mail care packages to college students. Finally that idea, although a bit modified, has become a reality.

Artist Arlene Rolf, a friend and Trinity member, donated greeting cards for the outreach project. The cards are feature images of her batik art.

Artist Arlene Rolf, a friend and Trinity member, donated greeting cards for the outreach project. The cards feature images of her batik art.

Four of us, who are working on outreach as part of a visioning process, recently mailed greeting cards with encouraging messages, Scripture cards and gift cards to 23 young adults from our congregation. That option, rather than the more costly care packages, realistically fit our finances.

We can complain all we want about youth disengagement from the church. But if we don’t do something about it, then we really ought to stop whining.

I also ordered joy-themed Scripture and inspirational cards from christianbook.com.

I also ordered joy-themed Scripture and inspirational cards from christianbook.com.

I’m not so naïve as to believe this first project of the College Plus Connection Team is going to bring young people back to church. Yet, I am optimistic enough to believe these mailings, this connection, at least shows that we care. I care about these “kids” because they are part of my faith family. Many are also the sons and daughters of friends. Anytime someone cares is a positive. And that can make a difference in the life of a young person.

Another one of Arlene's batik print greeting cards.

Another one of Arlene’s batik print greeting cards.

Implementing a project like this can be a challenge. We started with a list of about 70 names. It’s really really tough to track down addresses and other information when many people no longer have landlines. Publicizing our efforts didn’t help either.

Rather than despair, our team decided that if we reached even one young person, we succeeded. So we succeeded 23 times. We mailed cards to young adults who are in college, working and/or serving in the military, thus the name College Plus. They live in places ranging from Faribault to Boston to Thailand and the Netherlands. They now know that we at Trinity care about them. And that’s important in any ministry. We all want to feel valued and connected to others, whether in a faith family, a school family, a work family or even our adoptive or blood family.

I’d like to hear more ideas on how a congregation can connect with young people once they’ve left home. Please share.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “How my church is connecting to young adults”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    I think the care package gift cards are a brilliant idea! And reaching out to 23 is amazing – not to be sniffed at. And you have inspired me to do something similar so the good you have done will be replicated in another area.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    This is a great idea –any time you reach out beyond the church walls good things happen. I am a firm believer in the hand written letter and note and I have to believe that the recipients of these cards will be blessed in many ways. One church we attended “adopted” college students and matched them up with members who sent things during the year to those students which was a nice way to encourage and foster a relationship from a distance. Another time we all met and made cookies to ship to students. Care packages are always a good thing. That reminds me—I need to send one to one of my favorite college students pretty soon. 🙂

  3. What’s great idea! I love it.

  4. I think you are off to a great start in reaching out and in doing that the word will start to spread. I stepped away from the church for a few years in my early-20’s due to moving around, working full-time and going to night school full-time. I eventually found a church that fit my lifestyle, my sense of community, my group that I could relate to, etc. Wishing You the Best – Good Luck 🙂 Happy Week – Enjoy!

  5. If they bring back or keep one kid thinking of the church and the community then it was a job well-done and worthy of the effort.

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    Too often, church is the place you go on Sundays, unless you don’t have to.

  7. treadlemusic Says:

    They not only know that someone outside their immediate family cares but that there is a place on the very large, many times intimidating/non-personal, globe that is a “root place”….a place that they may, or may not, call physical ‘home’ but a place where there are caring praying people who know them by name!!!!!!! I thank God for the “vision” of your group and, yes, if “only one” benefits, that is one more than if nothing had been initiated!!!!!! Blessings………and praying for you all with hugs……………………..

  8. Jackie Says:

    This is such a great idea, I think this age group is often forgotten when it comes to encouraging their faith, and reminding them that they are prayed for and loved! My church is guilty of not reaching out to the college age kids, ugh! We are connected to the kids that go to the christian college here in Rochester, but most of them go to our church, so it’s not really an outreach. It’s such a wonderful thing that you are doing with your church, Something I need to be praying about with ours!

  9. Don Says:

    The actions of your church plant the seeds in the younger generation which will sprout and grow as time goes on. Been there done that experience it!

  10. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Great idea.

  11. Virgil Says:

    Great work Audrey! Thanks to you and your committee!

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