Now is Not the Time
My wife and I did something a little crazy this last weekend. We packed up the kids and drove them back 750 miles to Rapid City, South Dakota, so that we could be part of the service to honor the high school graduates there. It was important to us, so we made it happen.
Long story short – if you don’t know our story – my wife and I moved to Minnesota to start medical school and, at the same time, I was hired by our denomination’s Gateway District as a NextGen leader. We were youth pastors at this church in South Dakota for the past 9+ years, so we were heavily involved in pastoring those that were graduating. Thankfully, we have a good relationship with the current youth pastors, and they not only welcomed us but also asked us to be a part of the service!
As we were praying over the students one by one, I couldn’t let go of the urge to offer up two challenges at the end…
#1) To the congregation: “Now’s not the time to cut off communication or relationship with our grads.”
I realize that graduate students are entering into adult life, but statistics show that there are far to many of our high school grads that are graduating from high school and end up leaving the church. What can we do as their church families to help support their faith into their young adult years?
I think “The Slow Fade” (from the Orange Series) asks a good foundational question to get us started: “What if we have drawn the wrong finish line?” Students finish our high school ministries and then what?
What if caring adults in the church continued conversations and provided safe places for young adults that are both sent (from the home church) and received (those that have traveled away from home to the church’s local community). What if we actively pursued nurturing relationships with young adults?
#2) To the graduating students: “Now’s not the time to cut off communication or relationship with the church.”
How many of us can identify with the independent young adult who’s discovering him/herself through some wild and sometimes morally deficient choices? None of us are meant to do life alone, but especially young adults who are on that journey of self-discovery. It is so important that they have life-giving relationships at this juncture. Peers and adults in their lives that aren’t afraid of showing some tough love: to speak truth into their lives when needed.
This doesn’t necessarily translate into a need for a young adult service, although that can be a very cool thing. What it does mean is that I think churches need to seriously consider how they are supporting all those high school graduates that are walking across the platform. More than anything, it comes down to the church learning how to love and care for young adults.
What’s your plan?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.