Let’s be real, even though we are only weeks into the new school year, those who are new seniors are already feeling symptoms of “senioritis”. Even the freshmen are beginning to see the end of this stage of life, which will culminate by walking in a cap and gown, receiving that little slip of paper. It all goes by so fast (those in student ministry we know that well); we blink and another class has come and gone. It can leave us feeling frustrated that we didn’t have enough time, that we might have missed something. My view is that even though there is a never-ending stream of students who are graduating, that’s also the best thing about student ministry! We get to send a new group of missionaries into the world every year.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t spend time preparing them to be sent while we have them with us. The exact opposite, but there should be a release of pressure because the end is enviable, they will eventually leave. Here’s a list of a few essentials that each student should know about their relationship with Jesus as we send them out.
1. To whom they belong
If students don’t know to whom they belong, they will never know who they are. We have to allow students to discover their true identity in Christ, as this is the most important reality in their world; everything else revolves around this truth. Students shouldn’t just be able to say that they are a son or daughter of their Heavenly Father who is the King of the universe; they should also know what it means to live in that reality.
2. He is speaking
God’s voice is sometimes really loud, and other times it is so quiet it feels like he’s not speaking at all. Students need to learn how to hear the Lord for themselves and take action on what he is saying to them. Jesus said that wisdom is the result of acting on what we have heard (Matt 7:24-29). If we can teach our students to find wisdom by acting on what God is saying to them, that will be transformational as they step into more and more responsibility and decision making.
3. He is listening
God never wanted communication to be a one-way street. Students have to be able to speak to their Father with vulnerability and honesty, however they are feeling inside. Students need to know that God understands and that he can handle when we are mad at Him. All He wants is access to what is in our hearts.
4. He doesn’t make everything clear
There will be times in your students’ lives when they will ask God what he wants them to do, and he may answer with complete silence. Students need to be able to take action out of their confidence and knowledge of their relationship with Christ. The Lord doesn’t want to spoon-feed us everything in our lives. He wants us to live into the authority that comes with being his coheirs.
5. How to actually read the Bible
The Bible should be the place where your students return to for everything they need in their world. It is the most dynamic book that has ever been written, simply because it is God’s word being spoken through it. To get to this place, it takes understanding how to get the most out of the Bible. If your students can access the Bible, they will unlock a fountain of living water that will never run dry. This book was very helpful to me as I started to really delve into God’s word: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
6. How to find community
This will become a new reality the first week after graduation, when everyone in their old community disperses to go their separate ways. We have to train students how to find community quickly, not only so that they will be able to grow and be nurtured, but also so that they will be able to lead and give out. Community is one of the best gifts Jesus gives us for our journey of faith. Students need community to bear with them in the transition out of High School.