March 19, 2009

18 and On Your Own—What Happens to Our Graduates? (Life After the Youth Group Part 1)

Written By Cary Schmidt

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

What happens to our graduates after high school? Have you ever seriously considered this question when it comes to their life direction, their relationship to the pastor and church, and their spiritual support? We live in a culture that has verifiably extended the “teen years” well into the twenties—and churches have yet to respond! In fact, most pastors and parents literally have a mental “disconnect” when our kids turn 18—it’s as if we say, “Well, you’re 18 now, so you’re on your own.” Yet, if our young adults will stay faithful and seriously embrace God’s purpose for their futures, they will have to deliberately swim upstream against the multiple pressures of the culture around them—and they need our help to do so!

This is not an easy battle, and it requires a lot of encouragement and support, but it can be won! How can we come alongside of our graduates and help them navigate their late teens and early twenties? First, let’s take a look at what usually happens.

Understand the Progression

The progression away from God for high school graduates often takes on these eight steps:

1. Culture teaches them not to grow up.

2. Some church youth ministries have indirectly taught that God isn’t fun.

3. Many churches offer little or no focused, age-specific, spiritual support for someone after high school.

4. Graduates who don’t go to Bible college get jobs and start going to local colleges, often working on Sundays.

5. At their jobs and colleges our graduates face every kind of temptation and wrong friend.

6. These new and appealing connections and relationships draw them away from the “boring spiritual things” and a church where they have little connection.

7. The allure of the world, a paycheck, and a new level of “adulthood” promises freedom, pleasure and fun.

8. The process ultimately leads to disappointment and spiritual devastation.

We must lose the “you’re 18 so now you’re on your own” mentality. This progression is killing our kids, and in part two of this series, we’re going to discuss a few things we can do to help our graduates avoid it! Stay tuned!

Here’s part two!

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.