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A New Swag Bag for Seniors: Rethinking the Church Graduation Rite of Passage

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Spring is here, and many churches are set to once again launch a group of seniors. Parties will be hosted.  Pictures will be shown. Bibles will be distributed. Graduation banquets will be held. As someone who has led many of these events, here is my revised list of what I believe seniors should be given as they leave.

Acknowledgment as an Adult.

Within the church, emerging adults often wonder what the church expects from them. Use this opportunity as a rite of passage to let them know that they will be treated and respected as full members of the community. Our banquets always included a word of encouragement from our senior pastor or pastor of adult ministries.

Good Memories.

I want them to remember moments of God’s goodness (and not simply memories of skit nights). I want to provide times when they knew God’s presence was real. I want to provide testimonies that show His mercy was undoubtable. I want to provide times of reflection that engrave a knowledge of His goodness in their own lives.

 Sharpened Social Skills.

Most of our students had never experienced how difficult it can be to make new friends at a church, and so we literally walked through the entire process of finding a new church. We changed their curriculum, roles and experiences during their senior year to prepare them for departure.

Unquestioned Support.

I want my students to leave with my cell phone and the numbers of others who will continue to care for them. I want them to know that absent does not mean forgotten. Here is one simple way to communicate your continued care.

 A Hopeful Expectation of Spiritual Growth.

Our students need to know that they don’t need to abandon their faith during college in order to be “normal.”  In contrast, I had several graduates whose spiritual growth exploded during their college years. We need to rewrite the metanarrative of both adolescence and emerging adult as a great time to be a follower of Christ. The church must guard the perspectives given about these phases of life.

This new swag bag is not perfect, and I am sure that you will find it lacking. What would you like to include in your senior swag bag?

All of us who work with adolescents can rejoice that as they leave, they do not go alone. The God who saw them through junior high retreats and senior high mission trips goes with them now.


DR. G. DAVID BOYD is a forward thinker, a collector of Marvel Comics, an avid gamer, a radical follower of Jesus Christ, a father of three boys, and a husband. David is the managing director of EA RESOURCES, a faith-based non-profit organization dedicated to equipping parents and churches to understand emerging adulthood. He’s also the founder of the EA Network, a network that connects those who minister to the needs of emerging adults.

This post was previously published by EAResources.org.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS. 

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