This will be my eighth summer of dealing with this transition. As I’ll confess in most of my college ministry experiences, there have been failures and successes. Here’s just a couple of thoughts on how to handle the homecoming.
1. Recognize that having a whole bunch of young people flood your church and/or program changes the dynamics of your community. In my experience this can be both good and bad.
2. Have a plan! What is God saying to you about this summer and how are you going to go about it? What do you want/need to accomplish? Is it rebuilding some sense of community? Is it planning multiple service projects? Is it having random hangouts at your house eating popcorn and watching the Olympics?
3. Recognize the seasons and plan accordingly. For us, we push people into community in June. We do small groups, weekend retreat and mission trips in July (yes July is crazy for us). Then we taper off in August. There are calendar issues both with their school and our church that have made this a semi-functional plan. Still, we adjust it each year!
4. Find ways to connect them with the church in addition to your program or group. They need to feel like your church is their home and that will best happen in the context of diverse, life-giving relationships.
Enjoy, and make sure you find some time for vacation!!