By Brittany Small

How to Help Students Flourish in Faith: A Letter to Parents

To the parents of my students,

Hi. My name is Brittany. We’ve never met before, but I spend a lot of time with your college student. Actually, I probably spend more time with them than you do during the school year.

No, I’m not their roommate . . . or a stalker. I work with InterVarsity, a Christian organization on campus that your student is involved with. It’s my job to nurture them in a way that develops their leadership skills and deepens their faith.

I know from small group that your son has a genuine desire to know who Jesus is. He comes to our discipleship meetings willing to share his struggles. He has an energy and passion for his generation that you and I could learn a lot from. When I look at him, I see someone who is going to change the world.

I’m writing, though, because I’m a little frustrated. At our last meeting, I asked your son if he would consider spending a month of his summer in Michigan at our leadership development training program. When I did the program as a student, the experience transformed my life. I want him to have that same profound opportunity to grow in his relationship with God in a way that will prepare him to lead a diverse group of people inside and outside the church.

When I mentioned it a few weeks ago, he seemed really excited about the possibility of going. But today, he told me that when he asked for your permission, you said no, insisting that he needs to work the whole summer.

The same scene played out when I asked him if he had made a decision about becoming a small group leader next year. He told me that when he asked you, you recommended that he turn down the position.

I know these opportunities involve sacrifices from you and him. But imagine all the ways he could grow in faith and courage as a result. Not only would he be gaining leadership skills that he’ll use for the rest of his life, but he’d be allowing God to use him to make an impact on campus!

Consider as well what you’re modeling by saying no to the things he feels God calling him to. It’s a model your son is likely to follow, both in his own life and in the lives of your future grandchildren—the future of our world.

I love students and desire only the best for them. I don’t ask them to consider leadership positions or attend $1,200 month-long training programs for my own benefit—I ask out of a longing to see them connect with the God of the universe in a way that will leave an imprint on their soul and motivate them to change the world.

I know you love your son deeply. Will you trust him to Jesus? And will you trust Jesus to provide what you all need for these opportunities to become a reality?

We both know your son is smart and capable of making his own choices. But he wants your advice and weights it accordingly—I know because he tells me.

He also wants to follow God, though. Help me push him toward trusting God. Even when he asks to spend $1,200 and a month away from you this summer. Even when he asks you about the new leadership position he’s been offered. Even when he wants to go halfway around the world to tell others about Jesus.

You and I are on the same team. Let’s help your student trust God—together.

For Christ and the university,

Brittany Small

Brittany Small is an InterVarsity Campus Staff Member at her alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she graduated with a journalism and communications degree. She blogs on ministry at

Confused about why, exactly, your student wants to spend their summer break interning in Uganda? Read more about InterVarsity’s spring break and summer trip options:

Global Projects: Students spend a month engaging in evangelism, prayer, and justice while building relationships with people from another country.

Global Urban Treks: Students spend their summer living and serving among the urban poor to discern God’s calling on their life.

Urban Projects: Students spend a weekend, their spring break, or their summer working in needy urban neighborhoods to learn more about God’s love for the poor and the justice he desires.

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