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 Lars Rood, a Fuller grad, a student ministry pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian near Dallas, TX, blogger, and part of the 2010 Sticky Faith Cohort.
As a part of our interaction with the Sticky Faith research my youth ministry felt like we needed to take some new steps to connect and walk with our senior class through their senior year. It’s a stressful season full of college applications, acceptance and rejection letters and ultimately deciding where to go. That “decision” has so many facets and factors to it that it feels like a really big and stressful deal for our students.
So we decided to walk through it with them. The Sticky Faith idea was to just surround our seniors in a time of non-agenda relationships. We did this by inviting them over to my house every other Sunday for the entire fall and winter months of their senior year for dinner. I generally would cook up something good to show them that they mattered and were important to us, and we’d just sit around and talk. In the fall we tried to make sure they knew that we just wanted them there and we didn’t have a program or plan for the evening. The basic idea was come from 6-7. You have to eat and we live close to the church. Just be with us. One thing I always said was we love you if you come or don’t.
Through the fall we targeted both the seniors and their parents and let them know what we were doing. Most nights we ended much later than 7pm although many students always had to leave early. We would just sit around and talk about college applications, essays and their hopes, dreams and nightmares about the college process. We talked a lot about their senior year too and other things they were experiencing.
In the winter students started getting early acceptance letters and some of them decided immediately but others didn’t hear back for a while. For both of those groups we just encouraged and cared for them and stayed consistent with our questions and prayers. We started having a bit more program in the winter, so each night after dinner we would talk about some specific bits of college Christian life. We had great discussions about how to find a church, where to meet friends, how to relate to your parents, and what things they should look out for in a spiritual community. Lots of really good discussions.
There's a lot of ways to care for your senior class. This was just one way we did it and they said they loved it. The payoff was that this winter when they were all back from college, we were able to have great talks about their first semester.