Monday, May 4, 2009

Off they go. . . .

The invitations are coming. If you're in youth ministry the invitations you get will most likely result in a lower food bill and a bigger belly. It's a blessing and a curse! You get to go to all the picnics for your high school grads, but you might be eating too much.

Every year when graduation season rolls around I ponder the job we've done with our kids. I wonder how well we've prepared them for life after high school. This morning, I asked Derek Melleby (Director of CPYU's College Transition Initiative) to share with me some of his greatest concerns regarding youth ministry and the transition from high school to college. I asked for five. . . . which made it a difficult task for Derek as there is so much more he'd like to pass on. Here's the five he gave me. . . and I encourage you to think about each as you visualize each of your graduates:

1. There is a cultural assumption that college helps students mature, or is a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood. The reality is that college, for many, is not a healthy, maturing experience.

2. The years between 18-25 are considered the “critical years.” Decisions are made during this time that are formative for the rest of life. Who they decide to be in college is most likely who they will be for the rest of their lives.

3. Too many students are being shaped by the “world’s story” rather than God's story, understanding college as nothing more than the next step to a “successful” life: you go to college to get a degree, to get a better job, to make more money.

4. Students need to be shaped by the Biblical story: college is a “calling,” a time to develop minds, discover gifts and discern further calling. College should be about increasing our serviceability for God! What are we doing to prepare them for this type of college experience?

5. It should be noted that only 58% of students who enter college graduate within 6 years, and 25% of students do not return to the same school for the sophomore year.

Derek's thoughts continue to pound home for me the necessity of a joint effort (home, youth ministry, church) at being intentional in understanding how students are approaching the college years, and equipping them for how they should approach their college years.

One of the things I appreciate most about Derek is his ability to address these issues from a deep Biblical perspective and his commitment to help you do the same. It's during this time of year that I revisit the wonderful book he co-authored with our friend Don Opitz - The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness. This book is wonderful combination of depth and accessibility. It's practical and hopeful.

Recently, I told Derek how much I'd like to see this book get in the hands of every high school graduate known and served by our CPYU constituency. I'm happy to announce that we've taken some big steps to help make this a possibility in a manner that won't break the bank. We've decided to bundle The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness and the ConGRADulations CD/DVD from our friends at interlinc in an affordable CPYU Graduation Bundle that you can hand on to all the graduating seniors you know and love. The ConGRADulations CD/DVD includes a Music CD, a Media DVD, a Resource Website and a 48 Page Graphic Gift Book. Your seniors will be encouraged as the songs and videos prepare them for the biggest transition of their young lives, including video and written advice from people like Francis Chan and Dave Ramsey.

All of us will be buying graduation gifts this year. I hope you'll take the time to consider supporting your kids and our ministry here at CPYU by giving them this CPYU Graduation Bundle. Special discounts are available for bulk orders.

Finally, let us know what you're doing to prepare kids for the transition to college. We want to be able to hear and share your ideas.


TomJeanMeganJustin said...

Thanks for this reminder, Walt. For those of us so far out of college and with young children who are years and years away from college, we often forget about this critical time in every person's life.
I am so glad to be finished with that time of my life and to be where I am today. I take no credit for this as it is of the grace of God that I survived with only a few scratches along the way.
I will keep these precious young people in my prayers. Thanks for the work that you do!

Andy said...

Walt you should move your blog to wordpress because my work blocks blogspot and that's where I do most my reading!

Chris said...

I am still kind of new to ministry and am in a small church, but this year almost a third of our group are seniors in high school (7 kids). So, we decided to break them into their own Sunday school group to try to prepare them for college life. We had no idea what we were doing. My wife teaches the class and in the beginning was doing regular 'devotional' type Bible study and trying to tie that to college life--and the kids just didn't care. Then we had a revelation. She started working through the Bible, book by book, giving historical correlation, along with overall Biblical context (the Chronological Study Bible has been great for her). The students have begun to see the Bible as more than a collection of stories and have really connected to the historical significance, as well as the spiritual. Our goal was to give them the ability to defend their faith when at college, but it has gone so much deeper. We can't wait to do it again, but this time we can start out on day one down this path.

Walt--thank you so much for all that you do. I wish that I could afford to bring you into town. I have enjoyed hearing you at the YS conferences in the past couple of years and we'll be adding our financial support soon as well!