By Renee Elder

Congregations routinely celebrate college-bound youth with farewell gifts and parties featuring slideshows of pre-school Christmas pageants, high-school mission trips, and almost everything in-between. But youth leaders and pastors who want to extend the relationship into the months and years ahead often struggle to find the right approach.

“It’s hard,” says Carol Ellis, director of Youth and Children’s Ministries at Main Street United Methodist Church in Bedford, Va. “Each church comes up with its own strategy, not only in terms of resources but within the context and culture of that congregation. Some congregations find there is a great deal of interest in engaging with college-age students; others don’t.”

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