STUDENT MINISTRY: Sending Out the Class of 2023

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The new school year is just around the corner, and teachers and administrators have already started the process of stepping back into the classroom. It should be no surprise. It happens every year. However, the group we don’t give much focus to is the class that just finished their high school experience. The graduating class of 2023 is headed off to college and the work force. It is a time of excitement for some and dread for others.

What can we do to help our former students as they take that next step? They may no longer be in our youth groups, but that doesn’t change how we feel about them. Some of those students spent 7th-12th grades hanging out in the youth room. Let’s send them off well. Here are a few thoughts on how we can do that:

• Pray for them. As they make final decisions about school and take steps toward real adulthood, let’s continue to pray for these young people. Pray that they will stay true to their Savior as they move toward independence. Pray that they will use opportunities to be missionaries at their schools and new jobs. Pray that they will continue to honor God with their lives. Before they begin their college experience, bring all your outgoing students before the church and pray for them.

• Check in on the parents. For mom and dad, the first year of college carries much of the same emotional moments as the high school graduation. If their student is heading out of town for college, the separation can be painful. Parents and grandparents need the encouragement to let go and trust God in these moments.

• Communicate with the students. There are a lot of things college freshmen may fear. They may wonder, “Will I get homesick? Who will I become friends with? Where will I attend church? Can I do the work college requires?” Answer the questions you can and help your students learn about the community they are headed to. Find churches and ministries you trust they can connect with, and provide biblical guidance and encouragement when the fears mount in their hearts.

• Don’t reduce your expectations of these young men and women. Too often, we give our students a pass on church involvement during the first years of college. Keep the lines of communication open with them and ask about their church attendance. Find out how they are connecting with other believers. Don’t be afraid to ask what might seem like a tough question. A new career or a new school is an exciting thing, but if their lives become unmoored from their faith, real success will elude them.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate our students’ achievements as they finish high school and move on to the next stage of life. However, we need to go beyond celebration. We need to support them as they continue to move forward. Pray, encourage and exhort them to be the Christ followers they are called to be.

How do you encourage your students during this time of transition? Join the conversation at Facebook.com/groups/StudentMinistryMattersCommunity.