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Life After the Youth Group

Part Two of a Series—Sustaining Spiritual Momentum After High School

compass

In the first article we discussed a trend that is fairly common among young adults after high school. If you are in the ministry then you are passionate about seeing people “make it” for God. Over the years, we haven’t been 100% successful, but we’ve seen God bless some specific efforts to reverse the trend of young people leaving the faith after high school. What can we do to sustain spiritual momentum after graduation?

First, it would help to start warning our graduates of this process while they are still in senior high. Any Bible teaching series that will help them see the deception and prepare them to stand strong is well served at this time. Second, it is vital that we offer spiritual and relational support after high school. Here are a few thoughts:

1. Establish an 18-23 year old student department—we call ours “College and Career” and it falls under our student ministry organizationally. This department is led by teachers and leaders who truly invest their hearts and prayers into our students after high school. I’m eager and excited for my own son to be a part of this department as he transitions out of high school this summer. This group is significantly different than a high school youth group, but absolutely essential.

2. Love them through the test of their faith—every young person experiences some tests and trials during this time of life. Often those tests strike at the core of their faith. This is a time when their faith is proven personally. Stand with them, pray for them, encourage them, and invest into them.

3. Be accessible for counseling and encouragement—at a time when the devil tries to distance them from every good relationship, be available. Have an open door and open heart towards any question. At this age, they need biblical logic to answer honest and difficult questions.

4. Support them through tough decisions—be an unbiased counselor. Many of our young people are not called into the ministry, and they need to be reminded that the will of God for them is just as vital as full-time ministry. Many of our young people at LBC attend secular colleges, join the military, or choose local career paths. Our heart and passion for them is that they would follow God passionately and stay in His perfect will. I love to see the many faithful families of Lancaster Baptist Church who were once young adults attending local colleges or getting degrees in things like teaching or nursing. Seeing them stay faithful to God is as much a reward as seeing someone serve on a mission field.

5.  Be sensitive to their unique needs and challenges—this is a distinct stage of life that requires focused Bible teaching and encouragement.

This group is very different than a teen group—though many of them are still teens. As we created a “College and Career Department” (not to be confused with “the singles department” which is post college age) we were confronted with a completely different life-stage, challenges, schedule, and direction than a youth group. We didn’t create a mirror image of our Senior High department. In our next article I’ll share what they’ve told us about their lives, their needs, and their challenges—and what we’ve seen from working with them. Hopefully these articles will provoke you to approach this group uniquely and biblically.

Until then, think about these five responses. Share your thoughts? What are you doing to keep graduates faithful and how is God blessing it?

Here’s part three!

Note: These articles are also shared in the April 2009 issue of The Baptist Voice—a subscription-based magazine from the ministry of Lancaster Baptist Church and West Coast Baptist College.

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3 Comments

  • Larry I love your response. It sounds like something one of my boys would say.

  • Looks like I’ll be taking Larry out for crab soon! :) I have to agree… he is an incredible kid, and he certainly deserves some crab legs!

  • I am currently serving as an assistant pastor at Heritage Baptist Church and lead our college and career department. We call our college ministry “Ambassadors for Christ.”

    Ours is a very unique ministry as it is made primarily of 1st generation Chinese Christians. Our students attend a number of universities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most were reached through our church as children or teenagers, though quite a few were reached through our college ministry. Because of this, our church has developed a very unique student ministries model.

    In lieu of a midweek teen Bible study, our college (and high school) ministry meets on Friday nights at 7:00 p.m. for preaching and fellowship. The students run and organize the services (they serve on an elected council with a president, vice president etc. We have monthly council meetings on a Sunday afternoon where I mentor them in leadership and help plan upcoming events and meetings). They organize the special music, take the offering, cook the meal that follows, plan the recreational activities, emcee, and song lead. I do the preaching though! Following the message, we always have dinner together that the students cooked, and occasionally have a fun recreational activity.

    The messages I preach are geared to their lifestage and situation. This year I preached a series on purity, dating, apologetics, and am currently teaching through the book Life Quest, by Cary Schmidt. Previously, I have taught Discover Your Destiny.

    The students dress nice casual—honoring their Lord with what they wear but not dressing for Sunday morning church—and I rarely wear a tie.

    We have quarterly to semi-annual evangelistic outreaches were instead of a Friday meeting, we will take a trip to Half Moon Bay or a Corn Maze or something in order to encourage visitors to come. Each year we take a retreat in the spring to Lake Tahoe for skiing/sledding and in the summer to the American River for white water rafting. After the messages, we will split the guys and girls into separate small groups to meet for devotions where they will answer prepared questions over the topics that were preached on, discuss how they will apply it in their lives and pray together.

    We also have occasional Guy’s/Girl’s Day Outs where instead of our Friday meeting, my wife and I will split the group up and take the guy’s rock climbing and the girls to the ocean or something. I will frequently have them over to our house for pizza, fellowship, devotions, and testimonies after a Sunday night service (something I learned from Bro. Schmidt when I attended LBC as a teenager and served in the Youth Ministry as a college student).

    All in all, the students that have stayed in town after graduation have loved AFC and really owned this ministry. It has been in place long before I came here so I have been the beneficiary of a great church and pastor and have been able to enter into the blessings. Each week, we have about 35 students in AFC and have over 80 visitors to our college ministry each year and see many saved and added to the church.

    Four weeks ago, a college girl was invited to our church by one of our students, was lead to Christ by another student after a Sunday morning service, was later baptized, and is now being taken through a discipleship curriculum by another young lady in our college ministry. The last report I heard she had just finished the Gospels and is now reading the book of Romans.

    I praise the Lord for what He is doing in the heart of our students in the Bay Area and through Heritage Baptist Church. It is really an amazing ministry that will always be impressed in my heart. I wish you could see it!

    Jacques

    PS

    Thanks for being an incredible mentor in youth ministry Bro. Schmidt—so much of what I have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in you, I have put into practice hear.


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