Yesterday, our church celebrated the graduating seniors of 2014. As I called names and shook hands, I started thinking about all the ways we celebrate graduates. So today I want to share with you 4 ways to honor graduates.
1. Get involved with local baccalaureate services.
As youth pastors, we need to be continually looking for ways to integrate ourselves with the school system. One excellent way to do this during graduation time is through baccalaureate celebrations. Last year, our church had the good pleasure of hosting a baccalaureate service. And to be completely transparent, it wasn’t because of anything I initiated! The parent of one of our graduates was on the parent board and reached out me as they began to have discussions about locations. I quickly offered our space!
This year, another parent reached out to me and asked if I had interest in doing the opening Scripture & Invocation. Once again, I quickly said yes!
Did you notice the common denominator? PARENTS! What if you were to be productive and reach out to parents at the beginning of the year and offer your services for the end of the year baccalaureate service? The very next week I had a student, whom I’d never met, say she saw me at the service. A bridge was built.
2. Get grads in front of the church & then pray!
Every year we have a Senior recognition Sunday where we march the graduates across the stage, announce where they will be going, they shake the pastors hand, and then we pray. This is such a special time. Every year I hear people talk about how they taught the graduates in 3rd grade or held them in the nursery as babies. Bringing them before the congregation not only blesses the graduates, but it blesses the saints who have poured into them over the years. They get a chance, once more, to pray over the graduates as they prepare to take the next step.
3. Give grads & parents food & a personal charge.
After our second service we do a lunch for our grads and their parents. We have done fancy food in the past, but found that everyone gets excited about BBQ (cheaper than fancy italian). As the parents and students dine, I take the opportunity to charge both parents and students. This talk usually involves some combination of: keep Jesus preeminent, who you surround yourself with matters, parents don’t “helicopter” your grads, but give them responsibility.
I then give them a gift. But not a Bible or a cheap “graduate prayers” book. They get so many gifts during this season and with a youth budget, let’s be realistic, it’ll be under $5, not that great, and in the end they’d probably prefer the $5! No, what we give them leads me to my next point!
4. Help grads find a new church.
We give our students the gift of community! Having read Sticky Faith, I wanted to be intentional in the way we help transition our grads. We want students to find a church the first week they step onto their new campus. We want them to be forward thinking about where they will attend and where they will find gospel community. We do this in two ways. A) We look up churches that we would want to attend if we were going to each respective college. B) We pass along the information of our students to the college pastors of these potential churches!
So what do you do? How do you honor grads and set them up for success? Post in the comments below!