In light of our newly-released Sticky Faith curriculum products for students and parents, we’re excited to share a guest blog series on how various youth pastors have approached preparing seniors for the transition out of high school. Today's guest blogger is Lee Hanssen, a high school pastor who serves as the Director of Commitment Class at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, MN. Christ Presbyterian was part of our 2011 Sticky Faith Cohort.
Often in ministry, we have great intentions and thoughts to share with our students. Just as often those thoughts come and go unspoken. A few years ago I was given what I call now a “Vision Plan.” A man who loved me, believed in me, and had very clear and well thought-out wisdom to share with me sat me down and did just that.
For the better part of an hour, I sat across the table from a man who looked me in the eyes, affirmed me, shared areas to grow, and prayed over a vision he had for my life. I left changed--forever. Not only in my own soul and faith, but changed in the way I wanted to be intentional with those I lead and disciple.
At CPC, we have taken this process and transferred it to a concept applicable to all graduating seniors. It is our hope that each student would have the opportunity to sit across the table from a staff member and have a vision plan shared with them. Vision plans are a great way to individually and specifically honor and affirm each senior as they transition out of our ministry program. A simple format could look like this:
1) Begin with affirmations: Try to make a list of 10-15 strengths that are specific to the individual. Share how you have seen these strengths in their life.
2) Next, I like to include a section of favorite memories. (The time we walked around the lake, went to the gym, went on a mission trip to urban Chicago, etc).
3) Key lessons/issues you have walked through together.
4) Areas to grow (limit to 2 or 3).
5) Short-term and long-term goals.
6) Finally, include a vision for their life (sounds intense!). This section is really you sharing your heart for what it could look like for this guy/girl to grow into the man/woman God is calling them to be.
Other fun ideas to pepper through the vision plan to make it your own: funny inside jokes, Bible verses, ancient prayers, pictures, nicknames, a general theme (ex. “Jaron the tender warrior,” “Molly the gentle servant”).
Once we develop these plans, we set up a meeting with each student individually and surprise them with the plan. I always print off two copies, one for me and one for the student. Page by page I talk through it and share out loud the hopes I have for them. At the end of the vision plan, it is always a good opportunity to ask them if they have anything they would like to share. This is not a time to fish for compliments, simply an honest opportunity for a young adolescent to have a safe place to respond. Finally I spend some time in prayer with the student and wrap up.