A Rite to Community

Brad M. Griffin

Today's guest blogger is Jason Herman, High School Student Minister at The Hill Church of Christ in Richland Texas.  Jason was part of the 2010 Sticky Faith Cohort.

Our typical promotion from 8th grade to high school has been filled with hype, loud music, and silly games.  Having been a part of the Sticky Faith Cohort, and after reading this article, we knew that we could do better.

So the question turned from “how can we make promotion fun?” to “how can we turn this into a communal rite that will assist our 8th graders in transitioning from the world of middle school to that of high school?”  I’d like to share one of many great stories that developed because of the changes we implemented.  Some of the critical elements of our changes included various symbols and liturgy being experienced by adults and students of all ages, which brings me to John and Dustin.

John is the guy you see in the church directory and say, “now there’s an interesting character.”  In ours, he’s holding a violin.  He’s seventy years old, written two books, has taught Biblical Greek and he LOVES teenagers.  John has played fiddle for Summer Spectacular (VBS on steroids), is one of our small group leaders, and he connected with Dustin during 9th grade promotion. 

Dustin shared with John how he struggled with anger and that his family has called the police several times because of it.  In that moment of mutual sharing, two members of the same body became vulnerable, became transparent, became one.  It was in this moment, created by a simple rite of passage, that John simply looked Dustin in the eye and said, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  I was speechless.


Published Oct 18, 2011
Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Associate Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is also the coauthor of Sticky Faith ​and Deep Justice Journeys. A native Kentucky youth pastor, Brad now lives in Southern California with his wife Missy and their three children.

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