March 22, 2009

Life After the Youth Group (Part 2)

Written By Cary Schmidt

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

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.