Grad & Beyond: Caring for Young Adults after Graduation
One of the joys of campus ministry is watching our students achieve what they set out to do and graduate! Though it’s hard to say goodbye to the many students who leave our community, we often have the opportunity to continue ministering to students who stay at our campuses for graduate studies or decide to settle locally for post-graduation work. Or we get to welcome newcomers to our communities as they begin their Master’s or PhDs!
Since 2016, Momentum’s Kingston location, Geneva House, has run a ministry group for graduate students and young adults called Grad & Beyond. This Bible study group has offered young adults a place to belong in the untethered feeling of post-grad life.
A Time of Transition
We all know there is a transition students experience upon reaching the milestone of graduation. They exit the university/college bubble and are no longer guided by the certainty of the graduation timeline. Once those certainties are gone, it often leaves students wondering, “What’s next?” When life looms up ahead of them, there is often a sense of unease that goes along with the excitement of achievement.
Not all churches offer young adults programming and often expect new graduates, graduate students, and young professionals under the age of 30 to join an intergenerational small group or something similar to find their faith community. But the issue with this is that the post-graduate years are a unique time for young people in their 20s. Some students have a clear idea of the direction they’re headed; others are trying to figure out next steps. Some continue in studies, and some remain in their university community to work.
It’s a time of transition, of exploring careers for the first time, of making significant decisions about jobs, where to live, marriage, next steps in education, and other massive shifts. The unique nature of this time is often best navigated with one’s peers. Being in close community with one’s peers brings a deeper level of understanding and support as we navigate the same life stage together.
The Natural Next Steps of Campus Ministry
Enter ministries for graduates and young professionals. Specifically offering programs that address the needs and circumstances of the 22 to 30 age group is important to the health of the whole.
Groups such as weekly or bi-weekly life groups or bible studies that offer enough flexibility to accommodate shift work schedules and busy lives, that help make the Bible applicable by discussing topics and studies that explore issues important to this age group, and of course a place for friendships to flourish are three principles that often work well for grad and beyonds.
Supporting graduates in their studies or young adults who have settled in your city but feel untethered to a community is important. Though it may initially appear to fall into the local churches' area of care, young adults don’t always find a place to belong. If new to a community or still finding their way, campus ministry often feels like a familiar community and place to belong, a continuation of the community they experienced during their undergraduate studies.
Connecting Young Adults with Local Churches
More often than not, campus ministries offering programs for grad and beyonds help those young adults find a local church to attend and invest in. Having met in a life group or at Bible study, young people invite their newfound friends to join them on Sunday at church—or they discover they’re already attending the same church but hadn’t met yet! Before you know it, they’re attending together on Sundays and investing in their church’s community.
We’ve often found that campus ministries directed towards serving this age group often results in those young adults becoming more invested in their local church. Historically, we’ve seen that one follows the other. If you see an opportunity to help graduated young people become more rooted in your local community, graduate and young professional ministries are a great place to start.
We’ve also found that this is an age group that is willing and eager to serve the local community. With more resources and a desire to not just exist in but invest in their community, young adults are looking for ways to serve local organizations, ministries, and not-for-profits.
Bible Studies, Life Groups, and Social Nights
Our Kingston-based model for this age group shifted from a Bible study to a life group model as our numbers grew from 2016 to 2022. Regardless of the organization of your ministry, the guiding pillars of fellowship in the word, time in prayer and service, and frankly also some fun are all the essentials you need. Pub trivia, potlucks, skating parties, and games nights provide a social point of connection that is an important part of being pastoral.
By inviting grad and beyonds into intentional relationship and community, we have the opportunity to support a group undergoing massive life changes. Consider grad ministries the Second Act of campus ministries, an often necessary step to helping our students find a rootedness in community post-graduation.
About the Author
Mickeelie was a Grad & Beyond ministry leader at Geneva House in Kingston, Ontario, from 2018 to 2022. After joining the group in 2016 as a grad student at Queen’s University and deciding to settle in Kingston after her studies, she realized the incredible value of helping grad students and young professionals find a place to belong.