Don’t Miss the Graduation Milestone

By Doug Franklin April 19, 2021

It is nearing the end of April and summer is just around the corner. We all know that your youth group dynamics are about to change dramatically – students will be graduating, younger kids will move up and vacations will take most of your students away for multiple weeks of the summer.

Don’t miss the Graduation Milestone

Too often churches miss the boat on making the most of this important milestone. Look at this as an opportunity to evaluate how you have developed your students. Take time with your staff to create a profile of your graduates. Internalize and learn from your experience with them so you can improve how you and your staff develop future graduates.  Consider whether these students took hold of and applied your teaching, if they used their words to encourage and develop their peers, if they used their hands to serve, and if their feet kept them involved. Identify how they displayed a Christ-like lifestyle while in your ministry. Then find meaningful ways to communicate that information to your graduates.

A very significant way to do this is to build a “cairn” for each of them and/or the whole graduating class. A cairn refers to a pile of rocks in the wilderness that serve as a marker when a trail becomes worn away or otherwise obscured, giving direction to the hikers.

Build a cairn as a physical reminder for graduates in your youth ministry.

Use this analogy to create a physical reminder of the lessons they learned. For example,

  • Create a T-shirts design for the group depicting a few key ideas or lessons they have learned together.
  • Write letters to each student describing how you have seen them mature over the years.
    • Take the letter idea a step further by creating individual books full of notes from several adults and peers who have had a significant role in the graduates’ lives. Print these letters on unique paper and have the books specially bound.

Find personal ways to deliver these books to each student – leave it on the hood of their car, have it placed on their bed or desk at home, or hand deliver it. No matter how you choose to communicate that information, there are two vital elements that need to be included in your “cairns.” The first is encouragement and the second is challenge. The power of effectively communicating encouragement and challenge at this time in the students’ lives is immeasurable.

Encourage the students in who they have become. Talk about the specific role they hold within the group and their potential in the next group they join. Confirm their giftedness with examples and testimonies. Share a word about their potential calling in life. Don’t sell students short by just building up their self esteem. Be real with them. Challenge them in areas they are either throwing away their ability or just not quite reaching their fullest potential. Challenge them to live their lives with purpose and to honor Christ in all they do. Encase all of that with scripture to guide the students back to their foundation for life.

Along with building “cairns” for your graduating seniors, help your students discover their God-given identity and mission with our Graduation Bundle. This is a great tool will help you not miss the Graduation Milestone and develop students facing transitions or just trying to uncover parts of their future journey.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More