Our friends at Christ in Youth (CIY) wrote this article about how to handle student graduations. They provide 4 ways that sending out your students as opposed to just graduating them could change your youth ministry for the better!
By Chris Roberts, with Chad Monahan – CIY’s Senior Director of Junior High Ministry
Have you equipped your students to be sent out into the world as Kingdom workers, or have you bred codependence in them, leaving the church to be little more than a crutch for their spirituality?
Chad Monahan – CIY’s senior director of Jr. High Ministry – has been in youth ministry for more than 15 years and says he knows what it’s like try to catch up on the “spiritual conversation quota” as students are on their way out of the youth ministry door. And he also knows what it looks like to observe students who are ready to be sent out into the world to do ministry.
“You can graduate students, or you can send them out to do God’s work,” Chad says. “We only have them for a limited time, so why wouldn’t we create a strategy where we’re speaking to them so clearly that they’re prepared to be sent out. You have limited time and access to their lives, but you have unlimited power through the Holy Spirit to change the rest of their lives.”
“It’s a two-degree shift, but it’s a different way of looking at it – you’re either getting a new class each year, or you’re getting new students to raise up.”
Chad says this idea of sending out students should change a youth ministry in four key ways:
1. Change conversations. If sending your students out is your youth ministry framework, then it will change the way you debrief with them after lessons, it will change how you teach them, it will even change how you approach scripture. Secular schools are purposeful in the way they prepare students for the workforce, so why wouldn’t we be purposeful in preparing students to change the world for Christ?
2. Change the atmosphere. If we want students to trust us enough to believe that what we say about Jesus is true, then we have to provide an atmosphere where they know that they are known, valued and loved by God and by us.
3. Change their idea of identity. Their identity is all about being fearfully and wonderfully made by the creator. And that creator has given them a purpose, with gifts and talents to live out that purpose. Once they understand this, it will give them confidence and allow them to find their identity in Jesus as individuals.
4. Change the question. Ask students how to look past the “How” and discover the “Why.” It’s not as much about HOW Jesus changes you, it’s that Jesus becomes the reason WHY you do what you do. If Jesus isn’t the reason why you’re students are involved in the activities they’re involved in, this well-placed question in their lives can get them on the right track.
Chad says that if you approach your youth ministry with the idea of “sending out” and work backwards, it will change your approach to everything. If you will do this, you will give them the greatest gift possible as they walk out the door – a mission of service that will last a lifetime.