The end of the school year means a time of transition for eight grade students to high school and a time for high school seniors to move on to college. This transition time has been a concern of mine for a couple of years now. I don’t think we do enough on the hand off, especially in high school ministry. We need to move the goal post back a few yards and realize that just because high school is over we’re not done with these students. We need to help them transition to college ministry or often times with students who move away to college, we need to help them find a new church to attend. I just read a great blog by Kurt Johnston and Josh Griffin on this subject and they bring up some great points. This is a must read article. Click here for their thoughts.
One of the problems we have is getting students to move on from a ministry they love, especially your “core” kids. The ones that are at every service and event you have. I think they have a big problem making the move for several reasons. First off they are going from a ministry where everyone knows them to one where they are unknown. They go from being the big fish in the small pond to being the small fish in the big pond. They are stepping out of their comfort zone. If you have a student who hates change more than the Amish this is really a problem.
We need to get students plugged into college ministry programs before they get out of high school. If your student small group is composed of all seniors, get them signed up as a college small group so they can get to know the small group leaders for college ministry and the college ministry leaders can get to know them.
We need to get college ministry leaders to attend summer camps and begin building relationships with outgoing high school seniors. I almost think we need a separate summer camp just for this!
If you have students moving out of the area to go to school, help them find a church close to their college. Don’t wait for them to leave and do it on their own, chances are unless they are really strong in their walk with God they won’t follow through. Spend some time helping them research the area and the churches there so you can find one that closely follows your beliefs. If you know of previous students in that area, connect the students together so they can know someone there before they move away.
Follow up! Keep in contact, make sure they know you’re there to help and advise them and pray like crazy for them.