As a practicing advocate for the college demographic, I can honestly say I love college students.
But college students, just like any other demographic or affinity group, have interesting quirks and tendencies.
Last week, I offered a few perspectives on what collegians should look for in a church. This week, I offer a lighthearted caricature of the various types of collegians in churches.
1. The Sensitive Soul
This is the college student who takes everything too personally. In fact, he or she is already offended by this very blog post. People have tried to encourage this person to laugh a little, but he or she finds that accusation to be highly insensitive.
2. The Ministry Consultant
This guy is very opinionated about your church and the campus ministry he's a part of. He's apparently in tune with the "real issues" of your ministry. He even gave some constructive feedback on the pastor's sermon. People are getting used to him but are a little confused since it's only his 3rd time visiting the ministry.
3. The Future Children’s Director
Everyone absolutely adores this student. She is charming, enthusiastic, and sweet. She crushes it every year at VBS. She's going to be the children's director of your church one day. Or she will have 10 kids. Maybe both. Most likely both.
4. The Forever Church Hopper
This student just visited your church last Sunday and let you know he or she is "in the process of looking for a new church." You are also church #48. This student has been searching for a church since his or her freshmen year. This student will be graduating after the fall quarter.
5. The Spouse Seeker
This student is really only after one thing: a relationship. Will they attend small group? Will they commit to church membership? Will they serve the Body? It really depends on a more important guiding principle: "Will this help me land my future spouse?" Slightly creepy but we try to appreciate their laser-like focus.
6. The Level 10 Awkward
This guy is really awkward. He makes the other awkward people in the ministry seem a lot less awkward. He's so awkward that when you walk away from the conversation, your own social skills become temporarily impaired. Yet, he somehow finds a niche in the church community and thrives.
7. The Ghost Ninja
This student randomly shows up once every few months. There’s no pattern, rhyme, or reason. When the ministry hosts the yearly banquet at the end of the year, this person always somehow makes it on to the slideshow, even though they're not even present at the banquet. Perhaps we're entertaining angels unaware?
8. The "I got this" Band Member.
This guy is really passionate about being on the worship band. But he isn't that good. He is like the basketball junkie who has all the latest gear but doesn't know how to properly dribble a basketball. Everyone is hoping the pastor musters the courage to tell him Hillsong won’t be calling him anytime soon.
9. The Catalyst
She has single handedly made the college demographic alive at your church. She brings people from her school to your church and helps other people to get plugged into the church community. The smart pastor empowers this person.
10 The Flaker
She just found your church last Sunday and she's super excited about everything. However, she'll always have some kind of last minute excuse for why she can't make it out to anything. This confuses people because her Instagram story shows her watching Netflix in her dorm room. Other times, she's at Coachella.
11. The Homegrown Kid
This is the collegian who grew up at the church and therefore has a lot of relational capital. The downside is, this has enabled the collegian to simply march to the beat of his or her own drum with little accountability.
12. The Social Media Guru
She is the social media expert. Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. You name it, she's on it and she's masterful at it. But she also does social media at some of the most inappropriate times, like when someone is sharing a prayer request during small group.
13. The Unhygienic Hipster
This guy is the church hipster. He also has incredibly poor hygiene. Everyone is hoping he'll settle for the soap set during the white elephant gift exchange at the annual Christmas Party. Nope, he trades it away and gives a breathy laugh. Not cool bro.
14. The Para-Church Superstar
She is a rockstar at her para-church ministry. But for some reason, none of that translates over to her local church involvement. She's actually a bit critical of her church. She keeps saying her para-church isn't a church, but she functionally treats it like so.
15. The Timid Hero
This student is wise beyond his or her years. This student is immensely respected by his or her peers, church staff, and even pastor. However, this person lacks courage and therefore never lives up to his or her potential during the college years.
16. The “Take Me Back to Youth Group”
She hated youth group. But now that she's out in the college world, she wants to go back to youth group. Her youth pastor is annoyed because she was never plugged in during her High School years. Her college pastor keeps wondering why a High School student is sitting in the back of the college gathering until he realizes she's a college student.
17. The "Everything But College Group"
This student pretty much does everything in the church except college group. This student loves being around older people and serving younger people, but feels uneasy around the peer-group. This person has formatted his or her church experience to one's personal comfort level.
18. The Old Soul
She is totally over the college years and can't wait to graduate. In fact, she already has her post-college life all mapped out. But she also doesn't realize she gives off a pretentious vibe towards her peers and makes them feel inferior for being in and enjoying their college years.
19. The Academic Probation Disciple
This guy is really passionate about church ministry and oversea missions. He's also been on academic probation for 3 quarters running. He keeps talking about radically serving the Lord as he racks up another D at the end of the quarter. He can't wait for summer when he can "really serve the Lord."
20. The Drinking Instigator
If a college ministry or para-church ministry has an alcohol problem, it's because of this guy. He's the instigator. He keeps talking about being "free in Jesus" as he hands out beer to underaged freshmen. Most freshmen find him weird, except for the one freshmen who wants to become just like him, continuing the unending instigator chain.
21. The Bloomer
He was a mess his freshmen year. Suddenly, he’s a junior, put on 15 pounds of muscle, and he's responsible, respectable, and also dating a really great girl in the church. The pastor is proud of this guy and also thankful God performs miracles.
22. The YOLO Yoda
This guy will do anything and everything. Drive 5 hours to pick people up from church? Down. Drive down to San Diego after Friday night to get some tacos? Already filling up the gas tank. He makes everyone around him get involved. This guy is probably reading this right now, making weird noises like, "eyyyyyyyyyyyy" or "liiiiiiiiiiiiiiit."
If you're a college student reading this, it's okay to laugh at yourself. We're all a little bit ridiculous aren't we?
And in the odd case you feel convicted by something, you're invited to break out of your stereotype. Don't do it just to prove someone wrong. Don't do it for your own sake, but do it for the sake of others around you and for your church.
When you choose to grow, you're also impacting those around you for growth.
If you're a pastor or church leader reading this, let's believe in college students. They have their deficiencies just like the rest of us. Besides, if collegians wanted to create a list like this of pastors and church leaders, they could own us.
When we were in college, someone probably believed in and invested in us. We probably wouldn't be where we are today without that person(s).
Let's be that person for the college students in the here and now.