“Reimagining Senior Sunday” Notes

This Orange Conference Breakout session was all about seniors in high school and focused on how we could set them and their families up for the transition they make into their next step whether it is college or something else. Brad Griffin led the session and he works at Fuller Youth Ministry Institute alongside Kara Powell. Here are my notes from his season on reimagining Senior Sunday.

1 in 2 graduates drift from faith after graduation.

4 out of 5 intended to “cross well” – they intended to stay with their faith.

At the precise moment graduates need the support of community the most – when they are making significant life decisions – we rip it away from them.

Research about graduates:

Only 1 in 7 students leave our youth groups feeling prepared

The preparation they get in churches is too little too late. The #1 advice graduates would give a youth leader is to prepare us better.

Thread that runs through preparation…the kinds of questions they are asking:

  • Identity: Who am I? (False answer: Shame; Real answer: Grace)
  • Belonging: Where do I fit? (False answer: conditional acceptance; Real answer: Love)
  • Purpose: What difference do I make? (False answer: self-fulfillment; Real answer: Mission)

Faith and Faithing: is faith a not or a verb? Is it active?

Better Practices:

Big Idea = Not an event but a process

  1. An earlier Starting Point
    • Start at least the beginning of senior year
    • 9 months out – what’s next?
    • 6 months out – connecting students with adults outside of youth ministry
    • 5-3 months out – family communication about transition and dates
    • 2 months out – pre-pst graduation planning
    • 6 weeks out – Face to Face parent training
    • 4 weeks out – Host graduation event before the craziness of graduation begins!
  2. More conversations, more relevant topics
    • Finding a faith community and making friends
    • Deciding about parities…especially the 1st 2 weeks.  They set the trajectory for the next 4 years. They are open to spiritual conversations
    • Managing time and monty – big stress the 1st year
    • Handling emerging doubts – doubts happen (70% say they have significant doubts u t only 25% expressed them). It’s not doubt that’s toxic to faith – it’s silence. You can answer if you don’t know the answer by saying, “I don’t know but…” and find out.
    • Navigating changing relationships with parents, friends and leaders. Give them expectations on what the next step looks like
    • Practical skills – teach them life skills before they go to college (i.e. doing laundry)
  3. New ideas for family graduation dinner
    • Help parents think through that
  4. Give them leads
    • Connect them to campus ministries before they go so they have an immediate connection at school
  5. Stay in touch
    • Dn’t drop them once they go off to college. Stay in touch with them. Text them, send them care packages and connect them with other adults at your church
  6. Consider 4+1
    • This about that transition year intentionally
    • What’s the 1 number they can always call at any time?
    • What’s the 1 relationship where they never have to lie
  7. How will you respond when they fail?
    • Think through that question
    • How we respond in those moments can be a GAMECHANGER!

What do you think of Gradation Sundays for Seniors? How do they work at your Church? Share them and your experiences below or on social media use my twitter handle @tapounder when you share. 

Sign up for the Sidekick Scoop Newsletter to stay up to date on all the latest Ministry trends and Content!

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

3 thoughts on ““Reimagining Senior Sunday” Notes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *