It happened for the first time about 15 years ago. I asked some of my HS Seniors what their plans were for the following year. Throughout the year they gave me names of colleges they were applying to, and vague ideas of what beyond High School looked like for them. Graduation day came and went, and they did not head off for college. They had never even applied. It happens for a variety of reasons, however, there comes a time when not every graduating senior “leaves the nest.” Instead, while friends leave, they are left behind wondering, “What’s next?” Perhaps, they “get a job.” However, both of you suspect “youth group” isn’t an option in the Fall. Should they just show up at the “young adults” ministry?
How do we help in this life transition that may not feel so natural?
1. Encourage Them:
Some students stay behind with a plan. In my observance unless this includes moving out of their house, they usually are floundering around a little. First of all let them know they are NOT a failure. Help them think through what they might want to give back to this world. Have they ever thought through the reality that the Lord has a purpose and a plan with them? They are feeling like they just “can’t get it together,” even if they aren’t acting like it. Simply pray, love and put an arm around them.
2. Dream With Them:
This is the time of life when you are forced to figure out “what you want to be when you grow up.” Yet, they may not really have a clue. Help them think through their dreams and passions. A great place to start is the “Chazown” website HERE. Craig Groeschel wrote a book by the same name, based on the Hebrew word for “dream, revelation or vision.” This gives someone practical steps to walk through figuring out what the Lord’s idea for your life might be.
3. Plan With Them
Come along side the student (and the parents if needed) and help with some next steps. No one wants life to “happen” to them. You know look over your shoulder in 20 years with no skill set, and no purpose. Do they need to take a year and perhaps work with a missions organization like YWAM? Youth With A Mission offers three months of training in a “DTS” (discipleship training school) followed by three months of missions, literally in locations ALL over the world. Do they want to learn a skill or trade that needs training in somewhere other than a traditional college setting? What are the next steps to get to their future? What is needed?
4. Transition Them:
Typically when someone “goes” to college you find a church and/or Christian organization where you begin your “grown up faith.” If your church is near a school you understand this. A student that has stayed they is wondering what to do now in every area. Should they leave church? Help them with the process of becoming a “young adult.” If your church doesn’t have a special group like this, let them know where they fit into the church. Try growing them into a leadership role. Just remember as they are grappling with their future the last thing they need to lose is fellowship.
The most important thing we can do for the students who don’t “go,” is to be there with them. Often times these youth just need a little extra support and a push for a small while. However, it is easy for them to simply step off the radar due to embarrassment on their part. Tell them while they may be figuring things out for now, they are not lost.