As I write this, I am less than a month away from my son’s wedding. He and his finance asked me to perform the ceremony and I’m honored to do it. I love them dearly. My biggest concern is making it through the service without turning into a blubbering mess. Weddings are the end of one phase of life. No longer will his family priority be with his mom, sister and me. It will be all about his new bride, and that’s how it should be. January 2 will mark a new phase of life for Riley and Mariel.
As we look at the students in our ministries, we have to realize the same thing. They are in a phase of life that will come to a close. Soon, they will graduate from high school and move on. We hope to have done our part in preparing them for their futures as believers, but that ultimately falls on them.
However, we must be intentional as we look ahead at those transition points for our students. We can’t just plan out fun youth meetings and activities with no thought of the future. Fun is great and should be a part of our ministries, but we can never forget that our responsibility as a spiritual leader in each student’s life goes much deeper than the next outing we have planned for the group.
During this prepping phase of life, student ministry workers should pour into their students by helping them know these truths:
• Our students need to know that God loves them. Students are in desperate need of the unconditional and sacrificial love God offers. They need to understand a love that isn’t based on their self-perceived value. God loved them enough to send Jesus. Students need to grasp that as they navigate their next phase of life.
• Our students need to know that God’s Word gives them direction. If your students can leave your ministry with a deeper love of the Word, you have accomplished much. Those that study and meditate on the Scriptures are more likely to stay involved in church after high school and find greater peace in life. God’s Word brings us hope!
• Our students need to know that God’s church provides them with love, support and a place to serve. The local church is such a vital part of the believer’s life. Some would argue that you can love God and not be involved with the church, but I would argue that isn’t possible. If someone loves me, then they have to love my wife, Temple. You can’t hate my wife and really love me. We are too much a part of one another. Our students need to see the value and benefit of being a part of the local church. If your ministry pulls your students away from the overall ministry of the church rather than integrating them into it, you need to make some adjustments.
There are other things you need to invest in your students during this prepping stage of their life, but if you can get your students to understand that God loves them, that His Word is important and powerful and that the church is valuable, you will have accomplished much. As your students graduate and move onto that next phase of life, you will be able to boldly launch them out into whatever God has in store for them. And maybe you won’t be a blubbering mess as you do it.