My favorite and least favorite moment of the YL year is being at high school graduations. I see friends walking across the stage, some are brand new creations in Christ, others have become mature disciples, and others are making progress slowly but surely in their faith. But I also find myself cheering loudly for some kids while inside I cringe and think… I wonder if there was anything I could have done differently, Lord I wish my friend on stage really knew You. My confidence is in the Lord alone, and I quickly remind myself of 1 Cor. 3:6… Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God makes it grow. Only God can grow people. But I wonder, was I faithful to plant, faithful to water?
John Irwin is a wise man and years ago told me that he would make a list of seniors that he didn’t think he got the chance to really share with them all that they needed to hear. I want to challenge you and myself to a call for BOLDNESS in the final weeks of school in talking to seniors. Here are a couple ideas about how to go about that:
Make a list of seniors.
- First, and foremost, stop and pray. God may bring to mind a friend who you need to talk with right away.
- Look on Facebook or Twitter. Look through your entire friend list.
- Look on your phone. Scroll through all your contacts.
- Look through old club and camp lists. Maybe you have these on your computer or can get this from your local YL staff person.
- Look at old camp and club pictures.
Make a plan to communicate.
- See where they are at. Don’t just start talk “at” them. It is a natural time to see how they are feeling as school is wrapping up.
- Share your story. Maybe you could say something like, “I don’t know if I ever told you this personally… but my life has really been changed by Jesus…”
- Review what they heard at club, or camp. Ask, “what do you remember from the talks?” If they did not go to a recent camp or club, say to them, “I want to tell you something that I heard that is worth thinking about…”
- Be bold. Be bold. Be bold. If this person is on your list, it is likely because you already earned the right to be heard. You built the bridge. Now is the time to cross it. Do not be shy to ask, “where do you stand with Christ?”, “are you growing closer to Jesus or farther away?”, “I’m not going to beat around the bush, I care about you and I have to know if you consider yourself a Christian (and why).”
- Also, be prepared to give them resources for their next step. In my community we have a freshman in college Bible study (FYL) that many kids, some who are not Christians, come to. We also have college YL not far from us. If they are going out of state, look up the local YL or college YL info so they have it. You can also look into Cru, Intervarsity, Chi Alpha, and other quality college ministry options (YL isn’t the only thing that might connect with a kid!)
How to communicate.
- Texting. You can set up a time to get together over text, but do not try to have this conversation over texting.
- In person. I’d suggest over a coffee or soda if you haven’t seen this person in a while, the commitment level may be easier if you haven’t talked in some time. On the other hand, I’ve had success telling seniors I wanted to buy them lunch for their graduation present. One tip: figure out a way to make it so they don’t invite their friends. Sometimes they will do it without telling you, perhaps to make it a little less intense if they haven’t seen you in a while. Sometimes I pick a place where kids don’t go very often to avoid this. If I pick the In-N-Out next to my school, it will never be a one-on-one conversation.
- Facebook. If there is no possible way to meet in person, I think Facebook is a million times better than texting (and a million times worse than in person)… but this is better than nothing, and some kids will open up and talk easier through Facebook. If anything gets too personal, quickly ask to meet in person in a public place.
When to communicate.
- Now. Do it with a few weeks left in school so there is time to talk and talk more.
- Don’t wait until the week of graduation. Often this is the busiest week of the year for kids and their families.
- If you are not able to connect before they graduate, and they don’t go to summer camp, a natural time could be right after you go to camp. You could meet and tell them about the talks from camp.
What are your plans with your senior friends?