3 Ways to Keep Graduates on Mission - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

3 Ways to Keep Graduates on Mission

How you can help your seniors continue to grow and evangelize in their future.

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You did it! You’ve shepherded those shy, awkward 6th-grade students that came to you seven years ago all the way through to 12th grade. They’ll be graduating soon—so, what’s next for them, spiritually speaking? How can they take a Gospel Advancing lifestyle into the next chapter of their lives? How can we, as youth leaders, help students continue to live out THE Cause beyond the youth room? These are questions I often ask myself as I prepare to transition students out of our youth ministry.

Throughout my 30-plus years as a youth pastor, I’ve discovered a few practical strategies that help graduating seniors continue to advance the Gospel in their new context. Here are three of the simplest, yet most effective steps you can take:

1. Connect students to a church or college-aged ministry.

Whether they stay in the area or go away to school, encourage your students to get connected to a church or college ministry—preferably one that prioritizes evangelism. This should be a place where they can find community and continue in their faith journey. In our church, we have a group called The U, in which college-aged students eat a meal together, study Scripture, and pray for one another each week. It’s important for us to have a good handoff from student ministry to the next phase of ministry, whether in the overall church body or a college ministry.

Pro Tip: Be proactive by researching and compiling a list of three to five solid churches and/or campus ministries near where they’ll be. (Bonus points if they’re Gospel Advancing ministries.) Give them the list, along with a $20 gift card and instructions to identify a potential Gospel Advancing mentor in their new context and take them to coffee.

2. Challenge students to see their new mission field.

For graduates going away to college, the military, or a new job, help them see that God is sending them to a new Cause turf. This is true whether they’re going to a state or private school. It’s true whether it’s a secular or Christian campus, or a workplace or military unnit. God’s sending them as missionaries to a new place, and they need to be praying for those around them.

Last year, I had a student go to play basketball at a college. She saw the team as her new Cause turf and began looking for ways to start a Bible study with her teammates. It started small, but soon she started to see these friends invite others to the weekly meeting, where students were asking questions about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. We need to be student ministries that equip and send our students to take Gospel Advancing values and put them into practice wherever God may lead them.

Pro Tip: Structure your summer program to give seniors opportunities to lead and teach so they can be prepared when opportunities arise in their new setting.

3. Encourage them to find their new Cause Circle and Cause crew.

If you have students who stay in the local area, encourage them to continue to pray for their Cause Circle, look for ways to care for those people, and seek opportunities to share the Gospel with them. For students who go away to college or the military, remind them to add new names in their Cause Circle as they meet new people. Also, they need to find a new crew they can pray with in their new community. Encourage them to take prayer walks around campus and pray over the new environment God has placed them in. As they study on campus or in a local coffee shop, they can look for ways to engage with those around them.

The way you implement and model Gospel Advancing values into your student ministry must be practical enough that the students who graduate out of your ministry are able to put them into practice no matter where God leads them, and they become a way of life. We’re just part of the lifelong disciple-making process for students, and it’s a privilege to usher them into the next chapter of their lives.

Pro Tip: Put reminders in your calendar now to check in with students a few times in the first few weeks in their new setting. In at least one of those check-ins, ask if they’ve identified people they can share the Gospel with, ways they can be on mission, and people who can be in their Cause Crew.

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