A note from Kelly King: Are you already counting down the days until Christmas? Planning a Thanksgiving menu? It’s a full season of activities, but don’t neglect the college students in your church who might need an invitation to gather around your table. It’s a privilege to work with Savannah Ivey, and she gives all of us some terrific insight on ways you can invest in young women over the holidays.
It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas will be here before we know it. The feeling of excitement and joy for the holidays fills the air. With excitement also comes busyness and thoughtful strategy for coordinating meals and gatherings. For leaders, this season is also filled with opportunities to engage with a specific group of women.
As we look forward to the holidays with our plans and shopping lists, college students around the country are facing their own sets of challenges and joys. Students are finished with midterms and looking forward to the end of the semester. Their minds are busy thinking about catching up on missed assignments and prepping for final projects and final exams.
No matter what stage of life we are in, I think that we can all relate to the aching we have for the world to slow down around us and to be drawn to the Lord in this demanding season. Thanksgiving and Christmas are an instant icebreaker for connecting with women, and women who are in college are no different. As leaders, the holidays are a major opportunity to initiate or strengthen a relationship with the college woman in your life or church.
Maybe you are thinking about becoming a mentor, starting a small group for younger women, or you just want to connect with the next generation. The holidays are an optimal time to begin. I want to offer four ways you can connect with college women over the holidays.
Whether you already are taking part in a mentoring relationship, or you hope to engage in a new one this year, these tips can help you meet her in the midst of her busy season. What you might offer as a much needed study break, she will find what she needs even more—to be pointed toward the Lord in the midst of the busyness that she faces. These are practical opportunities to get together that can serve as intentional time to build a relationship.
1. Eat together. Invite a college woman over for a meal. It’s a well-known fact that college students crave a home-cooked meal as opposed to the campus food they are currently eating. The typical meal setting for a college woman is on the go. Food is consumed on a walk to class, in the library, in a cafeteria, and on her couch. The concept of a meal shared around a table is a rare occurrence for these women. Beyond the quality of food, there is tremendous value in gathering around a table. Biblically, a table is a place of friendship and love. This gives her an opportunity to press pause and be present. College women love being in a home. They live their daily lives in apartments, dorms, libraries, and classrooms. Even the smell of a home is a breath of fresh air. Remember a home does not have to be a house full of people to apply. Whatever space you do life in, invite her there. Inviting her into your home is a gift in and of itself.
2. Cook together. Provide her the opportunity to help prepare the meal. A couple of years ago, the women on the LifeWay event team used our team Christmas party to teach the younger women on the team to prepare a four-course holiday meal. We had a blast working together in the kitchen and learning basic cooking concepts. Living away from home, this was a sweet gift of community for me in a new city, and their intentionality in teaching me to cook made me feel so cared for. While you don’t have to devote an entire day to this process, this is a great learning opportunity for her and a fun way to connect. If she is already coming to your home for a meal, invite her to come early to help with the meal preparations. If time is an issue for either of you, just try making a dessert together. Desserts and baked goods are also a great way to connect with a group if you have multiple college women in your life.
3. Go together. Let her join the process. One of the key and most accessible concepts that I see in mentoring relationships is that the relationship happens as you go. In the hustle-and-bustle of your holiday preparations, ask her if she wants to join you. Whether it is a shopping trip, decorating the house, baking cookies for a Christmas party, or even folding your laundry, invite her to do it with you. In this setting, she gets to see you in your day-to-day life. The informality of a casual activity offers a door for vulnerability. You can even offer to pick her up as a study break.
4. Serve together. The holidays are also a great opportunity to help those in need. Ask her if she would like to volunteer with you at a local homeless shelter. Or if your church is coordinating a food drive, invite a college woman to join your group. This provides an opportunity for her to serve and shows her the importance of caring for others. This is a valuable concept to instill in a time of year that can be self-consuming as she focuses on her studies. Ministering together deepens your relationship as you go together to show the love of Christ to others. Keeping in mind that she is close to finals and likely has a heavy load at school, choose an opportunity that takes 1-2 hours so she feels able to commit.
Considering these options, remember that no matter how you choose to spend time together, look for ways to bring the Lord into your conversation. You can do this in multiple ways. One great way to do this is through questions. Ask her about her time with the Lord in the craziness of her school schedule. If she is struggling with finding time to spend in her Bible, offer a devotional or advent study. Remember that time management is not an innate skill; so above all, encourage her. As she sees you in one of the settings above, she will also see an example for pursing the Lord during busyness.
As you go through the holiday season, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to connect with a college woman. In a season of excitement and anticipation, use these opportunities to point her to the truth of the season and help her slow her heart toward the Lord.
Savannah Ivey is the Event Project Coordinator for Women’s Leadership Training Events at LifeWay Christian Resources. She first came to LifeWay through the intern program, working with the Women’s Leadership Training and Leadership Development Teams. Prior to her current role, she served as a member of the Adult Live and Digital Events Team. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where she studied Communications and Psychology. Her background is in student ministry as she served as a team leader for Knoxville Young Life and as the High School Ministry Intern at Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville. Savannah is passionate about helping equip women in embracing God’s call on their life. She loves conversations with friends, road trips, coffee, and music.