Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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We are trying to revive the college youth meeting and I wanted to ask for some ideas or thoughts about that. We need help with formulating a curriculum to use for them as well as ideas to improve the attendance weekly. When we started we had great feedback and attendance for the first few months, with a lot of activities and community service and then it kind of slowed down.

College youth require a unique and interactive program. First, study what worked in the past when you started the program and what did not. If you are nearby a college where most of the students in your parish attend, then perhaps you may develop a program there. Many campuses have opportunities for these clubs without any fees. Also, you may choose facilitators (adult seasoned servants) who more or less merely guide the discussion without necessarily teaching or preaching at these young adults. Choose a few (male & female) young adults who are spiritual, social, likable, sensible, and have leadership potential. They can be mentored by the priest and some of the servants who are approachable, so that they are inspired to be willing learners. These young leaders can serve as the connection to the reluctant participant.

Sitting in church pews facing the speaker is not a meeting; it is a lecture. There is a time for that, but not on a weekly basis and with the same speaker. The physical ambiance of the college youth meeting should not mimic a Sunday School environment. Keep in mind that many of these youth have probably been attending Sunday School since they were three years old and all the way throughout high school. Now they are at a point in their lives where they have a lot of freedom. You want them to choose this youth meeting, so it must be designed to include their terms. This will require some flexibility on the part of the organizers and facilitators.

College youth enjoy eating out, socializing, and debating issues while dining at inexpensive trending restaurants. Plan a monthly dinner for the entire group, even the priest. Be inclusive of everyone. Allow them to choose topics of interest, especially if they are controversial and guide them to develop their perspectives on multilevels: spiritually, socially, globally, economically, etc. The more interesting the topic, the more interaction will take place, the more likely you will have continuity with a follow-up meeting.

As your work toward developing this college youth program, make sure you follow their calendars so that you work around their schedules of mid-terms, finals, and vacations since many of them will want to travel home or spend time with their families locally. Plan activities around their schedules. Divide the group into committees consisting of members with various talents and encourage each committee to work on different aspects of a set project. The main point is that they need to take ownership of their program.

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