In a previous blog, Strengthen Your Students in the Lord, we briefly discussed staying connected with your alumni students. In this post, we are going to go more in depth on how to pastor your alumni students. We sat down with BSSM Alumni Directors, Ruth and Steve Moore, and they had some great things to share.
Start While They’re In School
The key to keeping good relationships with your alumni is to start while they are in school. As we mentioned in the Strengthen Your Students in the Lord blog, it’s important to teach your students how to connect with the Lord without you. You won’t be in their lives forever, and the stronger their ability to strengthen themselves is, the better off they will be.
Making sure your students know how to connect with Jesus, know how to be thankful, know how to connect to a community, and know how to stay connected to you are all important factors in developing students that will thrive after they leave your school.
The BSSM Alumni Department recently sent a survey to 11,000+ alumni. We found that alumni that are thriving the most prioritize a personal connection with the Lord. While this may seem like an obvious answer, many students find it difficult to prioritize their connection with the Lord when the busyness of life takes over.
Because many of your schools are part time, it can actually be easier for your students to maintain that connection – they are already living “everyday” life while in school. Make sure they know how to prioritize their relationship with the Lord above everything else. In your one-on-one times with them, do not be afraid to ask them about their personal connection with the Lord and what He has been teaching them lately. The more comfortable they are with taking what the Lord is speaking to them in their private times with Him and sharing it with others, the easier it will be for them to minister to others in and out of the church.
Thriving students are plugged into a local church. We found that it actually did not matter if the churches were supernatural or not, or even what denomination they are a part of, really. As long as they are plugged in and serving, they will feel like they are thriving. Make sure your students are connected to their local church now, before they leave your school. If they don’t know how to make that connection, offer to introduce them to leadership teams.
If your school is connected with one church in particular, take time to speak to the leaders in your church about involving your students in serving opportunities and leadership positions. Additionally, you can have a dedicated time in school where the various leaders in your church come in to speak to your students about the various opportunities to serve under them, as well as time after class to connect with the leaders.
Know How to Process Disappointment
Students who thrive know how to process disappointment. It is said that it takes about three to five years to transition from one major period in life to another. This is true of people who move to new cities, finish any type of schooling, have a child, lose a loved one, or have any other major life change. Make sure your students know this adjustment period can (and probably will) take some time.
Teach your students skills on how to build resilience, process pain, and walk through disappointment. Some keys to building resilience are making connections, accepting change is part of living, moving toward goals, making decisions, self-discovery, maintaining hope, and more. Taking time to equip your students in these things while they are in school will help them be successful later in life.
Alumni who feel connected also feel encouraged. At BSSM, we have a City Service team that reaches out to BSSM alumni to prophesy and encourage them. It’s easy to pray for your alumni, connect current students with them, and to let them know they are doing a great job and that they are not alone. Remind them that they are doing better than they think they are, and that you and your team are available if they need you.
Feel Connected to You
Finally, as we mentioned in the Strengthen Your Students in the Lord blog, it’s important to stay connected to your students but to maintain boundaries. Some great ways to maintain connection with your alumni are outlined in the After School is Over section below.
A great idea is to schedule a time online to connect with your students. We use Facebook Live because many students and alumni already have a Facebook account, and it’s easy to tune in, comment, and engage. As a school, you can schedule annual events and bring on past teachers or school leaders to speak to students, encourage, pray, and prophesy over them.
After School is Over
Below are some helpful tips we’ve found to care for your alumni and to help them thrive. These tips and events can be done by your alumni themselves (empower them to care for each other!) or by members of your team.
- Create a list of contacts [other students, leaders, churches] students can use to get in touch with outside of school.
- Empower alumni to run their own gatherings.
- Host a quarterly gathering time. Dinner and worship, time with core leaders.
- Host an Alumni Appreciation Night where current students prophesy over alumni and alumni have room to speak and share.
- Make alumni famous. They are out there doing the thing, which isn’t always being an itinerant minister or pastoring a church. Share testimonies and stories from your alumni with other alumni and current students.
- Have the alumni come to graduation to pray and prophesy over students.
Keys for Preparing Your Students:
- Have a transition journal.
- What are your goals now?
- Who will be your mentors outside of school?
- Who are you going to mentor?
- What church are you going to attend?
- What’s God speaking to you about?
- Where is He taking you?
- What key prophetic words is He speaking to you now?
- Who is going to be your community?
- How are you going to find community?
As Ruth Moore said, “School is not a high point. School is a launching pad into the next thing. You’re doing school for a reason. It’s for something God is preparing you for.” We all want our students to feel like they have been set up for success and are able to thrive outside of school. The way you connect and build them up during school will help them be successful after school. We bless you and your students to be empowered to impact your region for revival!