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Hello all! I'm a youth leader in Grand Rapids. I'm wondering what your opinions are on helping youth make a transition into adulthood. More specifically, how do we as youth leaders assist students as they mature in their spiritual lives. I guess the reason for my asking this is that, as youth leaders, we often encourage our kids to be wild and wacky in the games we play. Then once they graduate high school they should know to flip the switch and turn into mature adults. What are some techniques/lessons/events you use to help this transition? Thanks, - Mark


Something we're starting to do this year was having Senior "Exit Interviews" with the students gradutating from high school in our church. (Similar to the exit interviews you have in college with the financial aid department.)

We sit down with each senior and walk them through what they can expect mentally, spiritually, emotionally etc going into college. We also ask them how they've grown spiritually over the past four years-- investigating if we are 'achieving' our goal of developing mature Christians and if our ministry was effective in their lives. We also talk with them what it means to still be a church member and in community while they're physically away. We provide them with resources and people to connect them with at their future campus-- already knowing their gifts and interests. We also try to give them an idea of places they can attend church (many students go out of state/town).

This also helps us keep a pulse on them while they are in college and will transition them nicely into our college ministry. We connect each student with an adult mentor/prayer partner from our congregation once in college. From our college ministry we try to transition them into ministry opportunities with other adults in our community especially while they're home on breaks.

But the exit interview provides somewhat of a 'right of passage' that helps draw a line and gives us an opportunity to talk about Christian community and how they fit in the big picture in this different stage of life.

We also do a senior retreat every June that also signifies the 'graduation' from youth group. We also have 'Senior Night' at the end of our ministry year to celebrate them and their involvements and leadership in our youth ministry.

Thanks for the reply.

I really love the idea of the "exit interview." Maybe we'll incorporate that in our youth program this year.

I am a youth leader turned pastor's wife. I served a church in West Michigan for four years and then my husband graduated seminary and we moved to Oregon. I have three kids under four and that's what keeps me busy right now. I still am involved in youth ministry but more of a suportive role and hope to do more as my little ones get a little older.

Anyway I am very, very discouraged by seeing so many high school kids (some of who I ministered to and others who my fellow youth pastors in my town ministered to) leave the church, leave the faith, or can't find their place in the church. Many of them flock to the large mega churches and then complain they can't find community and even miss some of the familarity of the CRC they grew up with. I think it is great if they start attending another church. We don't neccessarily have to keep them at our own churches (I stopped attending the same church as my parents when I was 19), but we want them to continue to grow in their faith and be active members of a church.

If I had to do it all over again in my previous church position, I would have seen if my responsibilities could have extended to the young adults. Not neccessarily putting together a program like youth group where they all come on a Sunday night. But possibly regularly meeting them on their campuses once a month or every other month to keep that connection. Or establishing mentors within the church to share that task. If that would possibly turn into a Bible Study or small group, that would be great. It would be a way to keep that connection going and support them. It seemed like some of my youth groups kids needed that support more so after they graduated high school and faced some big challenges.

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