How to promote United Methodist Student Day in your congregation

By Barbara Dunlap-Berg

SUMMARY: How do you promote United Methodist Student Day? Congregations that realize people they know—perhaps members of their church—benefit from the Student Day offering are far more likely to share than those who do not. Here are few ideas from churches that go beyond simply asking people to give.

These 10 tried-and-true ideas can turn your congregation’s Student Day giving from “ho-hum” to “wow!”

  1. Contact the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, (615) 340-7342, to get names of scholarship and loan recipients from your congregation or city. Invite a recipient to speak briefly during the worship service or to a Sunday school class to tell what a difference the scholarship or loan made in his or her life.
  2. Encourage members to give $1 for every person who inspired them on their educational journey—a favorite elementary school teacher, a college instructor who helped them decide their major, a person in the church or community who mentored them. Once they begin to list those individuals, they will be amazed and—we hope—inspired to give generously.
  3. Tell members how they change lives through Student Day. Go to www.umcgiving.org to find personal stories of United Methodists who express thanks for the opportunity to nurture their talents and interests through a college education. Tell the stories through a minute for mission during the service or feature the articles in your newsletter.
  4. With your church’s worship committee, plan a special service for the observance of Student Day. Try to include past and current students. Many should be home for the Thanksgiving weekend.
  5. “Adopt” a student. Ask members if they know of someone who is struggling to attend college because of tight finances. Your church could sponsor one or more students or help with books, fees and incidentals.
  6. Include the names of all college students in your congregation on your church’s prayer list.
  7. Match current high school seniors with church members who attend college. Provide e-mail and mailing addresses so each senior can keep in touch with his or her assigned college student.
  8. Plan a United Methodist College Day. Visit www.gbhem.org to find the names and locations of U.M. colleges, universities and seminaries. Contact admissions offices for promotional resources. Tell them your church is sponsoring a U.M. College Day and ask them to provide catalogs, brochures and other items—and a live representative—if possible. An alternate idea is to take prospective students on a field trip to an area college.
  9. Tap into the talents of your college students. During summer and holiday breaks, invite them to share their skills with the congregation. A music major can play an instrument or sing during church. A theater major can coach a children’s or youth Christmas pageant. A math major can assist the finance committee. The possibilities are diverse.
  10. Think “in the box” and fill shoeboxes with donated items every student can use: gift cards to fast-food restaurants or chain superstores, healthy snacks, quarters, soaps, stamps, USB flash drives and other small items. Every semester, send a your-church-cares-about-you package to college students from your congregation.
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