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Fighting Senioritis Before It’s Too Late

By Cheryl Franklin Baertschi September 8, 2016

We’ve just kicked off our fall youth program. Attendance is high, and enthusiasm is in the air, but I confess that I’m already fearful of the mid-October drop off. Every year we see our numbers start strong and then quickly slide, and our seniors tend to be the first ones to leave. Like me, you know their excuses well:

“I just want to spend as much time as possible with my friends.”

“I need to make sure I get the most out of high school.”

“Youth group just isn’t a high priority for me right now.”

This year though, I’m initiating some candid conversations with my seniors right away. There is too much at stake in their lives as Christ followers and in the overall health of our student ministry for me to not be intentional in keeping my seniors engaged. Consider joining me in my plan to keep seniors involved from beginning to end.

Challenge with Vision
I want to meet with each of my seniors and cast vision for what they can “give” rather than what they can “get” out of the youth group in their last year. I’d like to paint a picture for each of them of how the youth group could change as a result of their presence and influence, and then I want to ask my students to commit to living out that vision.

Give Leadership and Ownership
I know that when students have a clear role and purpose they are more likely to show up and invest. I want my seniors to help in planning this year’s youth activities and service projects. I plan to have them lead prayer and worship, share their testimonies, and facilitate our small groups on occasion. I’m even looking at pairing my seniors with my freshmen students to be encouragers for the year. My underclassmen would love to have an upperclassman extending a personal invitation to youth group and special events on a regular basis.

Mentoring
Many of my seniors are craving some extra attention and mentoring during this time of transition. They are looking for someone to navigate the busyness of senior year and the intimidating unknowns that are looming up ahead. I’m looking to establish consistent times to meet with my seniors over the course of the year to discover their fears and concerns, and offer Biblical wisdom and truth. LeaderTreks book Moving On has been a great resource for me to help my seniors discover more clearly God’s calling and direction for their lives.

Keep Tabs
Simply put, I need to keep tabs on my seniors. Not only do I want to know their top schools or post-graduation options, I want to know when those acceptance or rejection letters will start rolling in. I’d like to keep a list of each of their activities and important and significant dates for the year. When busyness pulls them away or overwhelms them, like I know it will, I plan to text words of encouragement or ask how I can be praying for them.

It’s no secret that seniors are stressed and busy. Friends, school activities, homework, college applications, and much more are constantly vying for their attention. If we can help them see the importance of their time with the youth group, they will make it a priority to be present. If we can show them that this is a time to be encouraged and fed, as well as a time for them to lead, they will want to stay engaged and we will have won our fight against “Senioritis.”

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About the Author

Cheryl Franklin Baertschi

Cheryl Franklin Baertschi and her husband live in Carmel, Indiana and have raised 4 boys. After their youngest left the nest 6 years ago, she decided to fill the quiet house with high school and college age girls that she could encourage, mentor and disciple. She continues to learn daily from them.