- Determine when your seniors should start attending the young adult ministry: This one can be tricky, but there are a few options you can choose from. In my post “The Future of Student Ministry,” James Blewett mentioned in his comment he starts his youth group seniors in his church young adult ministry the week after Easter. I start my HS seniors in the young adult ministry right after they graduate. I believe you can do either or, but waiting until the middle of the summer or the end of summer may not be a good idea. High School Seniors are ready to start college, and waiting till the last possible minute to move them out of the youth group doesn’t help them move on.
- Give your 12th graders their own small group: Depending on how large your youth group is you may or may not have a seniors only small group. If you do great! You’re already set up to help your seniors, but if you don’t, then you need to consider making one, so your seniors can process the last part of their high school career together. This group can be guys or girls only, or you can throw them all together. Giving your seniors a time where they can work through all the highs and lows of their last semester of high school brings your seniors together, and helps them know they’re not the only ones going through this process.
- Take an ample amount of time to prepare your seniors for life after high school: Life is going to be a lot different for our seniors when they leave, and if we think we can cover all the new joys and challenges they are going to face in the course of four to six weeks, we’re completely wrong. Don’t take the month before your seniors graduate to start preparing them for college. Their lives are in overdrive, and the odds are, trying to figure out their faith is the last thing that is on their minds. If anything, take the year, or at least a semester, to start going over what they will have to deal with when they leave home.
- Use a good resource: This one can be tough, because in all honesty, there’s not a lot out there. You’re going to have to dig around to find something that you can teach from, or you can check out these two books I recommend: “Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide for the Journey” by Jonathan Morrow, or “The Ultimate Guide to Being a Christian in College: Don’t Forget to Pack Your Faith” by Jeff Baxter. What makes these books great is (1) their chapters are short so your seniors will be willing to read them; (2) they both cover everything under the sun your seniors will go through during their first year of college; and (3) they both have great discussion questions at the end of each chapter. You can’t go wrong using either of these books, so use them to your advantage!
- Connect your seniors with your current young adults: Even though you are going to have students who will be leaving, you will also have students who will be staying, and you need to start connecting your seniors to their new peer group. Have special fellowships where your seniors are invited to an event with your young adults. Introduce them to their new teachers so they know who they are. Seniors are ready to start their new phase in life, and helping them connect with people who are in your young adult ministry gets them geared up to participate in the young adult ministry!
- Introduce your seniors to the leaders of Christian ministries on campus: Give campus ministers a heads-up about your seniors who will be going to their campus. Introduce them to the campus minister, or invite them to your church to have a special orientation with them. Campus ministers want to see your students succeed in college too, and the more people helping them accomplish that the better.
- Give them one last goodbye with their youth group: Our seniors have spent a good portion of their life in our youth groups. Their youth group was the place where they grew in their relationship with Christ in a special way. Its bittersweet from them, so give your Seniors one last chance to say goodbye to their peers. You can do this during a night at youth camp, mission trip, or a midweek gathering. Have their youth group lay hands on them, pray for them, and commission them. Doing this will help your seniors know their time as a youth has come to an end, but their time as a young adult has just begun.
- Check in on them after they start college: It’s always nice to know people are thinking of you after you leave home. Take the time to see how your students are doing. Let your students know you’re praying for them, find out if they need help finding a church home, and make sure to encourage them. A phone call, text message, or message on Facebook goes along ways.
In the end, helping our seniors make the transition from youth to young adult is crucial to their success. They will still have times where they struggle with their new role in life, but we can take some of the burden off them by doing our part and preparing them for the obstacles they will be challenged with. Growing up is hard to do, but it should never be done alone. . Let’s do our part to commission our seniors as young adults! What have you done to help your seniors transition from youth to young adult?