"Saturday Night Alive" Draws College Students
Instead of forcing college students to fit into their congregation’s preferred practices, Fairwood UMC in Tyler is making an effort to do something that works for students: Saturday evening hang out time featuring food and fellowship.
Fairwood UMC in Tyler has discovered, when it comes to young adults: If you feed them – and offer evening events – they will come! They held their first “Saturday Night Alive” event in early September and plan to host others until the Christmas break, offering on-going study about the Bible and Christian values as well as games, movies and food.
Although this 200-member congregation is a generation or two removed from college aged students, they are excited to offer a weekly program for college students and 20-somethings who need things to do on a Saturday night.
Students Love Activities that are “Free”
Worship minister Michael Dickens was quoted in the local newspaper as saying, “We have a congregation that is very kind and caring, and wants to serve the community.” The motive was simple. The congregation saw a need and they decided they should try and meet it. “There isn’t a lot for young adults to do around here,” said Jan Harp, chair of the missions and outreach committee. “This gives them a place to congregate that isn’t going to cost them anything.” To promote this new event, organizers posted to Facebook, and placed fliers on the campus of Tyler Junior College and University of Texas at Tyler.
Adds Jan, “It’s one thing to reach out to someone who is just like you. It’s another thing entirely to reach out to someone different. That’s more difficult. But college kids, like the rest of us, are looking for community. “A lot of times, college students forget about religion,” Dickens said, who is 24 and attending college himself. “Not because we don’t care, just because it doesn’t fit into our schedule.” So instead of forcing college students to fit into Fairwood’s preferred practices, the church is making an effort to do something that works for the students. Michael believes that’s treating your neighbor, as you would like to be treated. Saturday Night Alive will be a come-and-go format from 6 -10:00 p.m. until the holiday break, and resume in January.
Visit www.facebook.com/SaturdayNightAliveTyler for more information.