If your youth ministry is anything like the one that I lead at FUMC in Cleburne, TX then you are actively in the transitioning season. This time is also called Graduation. It is always a great time of celebration from both sides of this, but what I would like to bring to you today is connecting how students are brought into your youth ministry and how you help them transition into college or whatever else they go to do post high school.
This year I have been very conscious of both sides of this coin because the first students that I met and had time to build relationships with is transitioning beyond high school. So are we have been conscious of this we wanted to transition them out of the youth ministry in a similar way that they were brought in.
May 24, this Sunday is Graduate Sunday and our tradition each year is to recognize them as follows:
1. In our 10:50 Traditional worship service we have a photo slideshow of each graduate. Each graduate provides a senior picture and a baby picture and what their plans are post high school and all of these elements are in the slide show. At one point the graduates are invited forward to share their parting words to the church as a youth; i.e. this is a great time for them to express to the large church thank you for being their village from confirmation until now. After each graduate shares they are invited to kneel at the altar where our pastors, myself, and my youth ministry staff lay hands on them, we ask their parents to stand behind them and invite others to come forward and do likewise. Then our pastors have a moment of prayer and blessing for each graduate.
2. Graduates and their family are invited for a luncheon after the worship service where the graduate moms from the previous year organize a meal for them. At this luncheon I as Director of Student Ministries have an opporunity to share my parting words with them and give them a gift from the church and then we award all scholarships that will be awarded.
So, the question is how does this connect to their beginning?
On Confirmation they are given a “youth” bible and our pray a blessing over each confirmand, and likewise we do both of these things as they are transitioning out of the ministry. This provides for a pretty cool moment for them because it’s how their journey and youth ministry began.
On the flip side as students are coming in we have what we call a “fly-over” event. The way it works out is this next wednesday May 27 is our last Wednesday Night Live (Worship night for Student Ministries). Before Wednesday Night Live though our Childrens Ministries has their End of the School Picnic from 5:30-6:30 and Wednesday Night Live begins at 6:30. At 6:20ish we create a human tunnel of students from the Picnic area on campus to the Youth Building and the new students get to run through the tunnel of currrent students to join the youth ministry!
The students love it and then they join us for our final Wednesday Night Live where we send off our 2015 Seniors! It’s a really powerful expression of the students coming in and going out. It’s an amazing time to be a part of.
So, how can you connect these two groups this year? Comment below and we will get the collective braintrust working on ministry together!