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As you begin transitioning into the graduation season, what are you to do with your students who graduate? Your ministry with your graduating students does not have to stop just because they have transitioned out of your ministry. The relationship that you’ve built with these students, shouldn’t just disappear as soon as they walk across the stage. Sure, you may be glad that some of your students are gone, but for most of your students, you are wasting an opportunity if you don't continue to minister with them.
Help them navigate those college-specific issues
God has placed you as a shepherd in your students lives for an extended season. You can become a trusted confidant for your students outside of their parents, and speak a little more honest truth into their lives. Maybe you’re able to reflect on things you would have done differently in college, or maybe instill some practices that you did excel in at college. Even if you aren’t able to relate in regards to college, one of the best ways that you can assist your students is by helping them pick a new church wherever they move to. At this point in your student's lives, you’ve earned the right to speak into their lives, so you can encourage them or help them find a church that matches theologically what they’re looking for.
Model Jesus' inner 3 philosophy
Jesus had the large crowd of people he discipled to, and then he had the 12, then he had his “inner 3;” Peter, James, and John and you see Jesus really pouring deep into them. This could be an awesome approach to ministering and pouring into a select few students for those more in-depth and interactive relationships with students who are just more mature spiritually and mentally. This was a truth that I had drilled into me when I started youth ministry; you’re going to have students who you are just closer with. While you can’t really achieve that deep relationship with all your students (it would be great if you could), focus in on a few to include and really pour into them as they transition out of your ministry.
Create opportunities for your graduating your seniors to come back and assist in your ministry
If you find yourself often feeling as if you don’t have enough adult volunteers, have you ever considered digging into your graduate students? Especially for students who stay local, it can be an awesome idea to plug them into leadership within your ministry. A good practice can be a year or two-year gap between them leaving your ministry and being able to take on a leadership role. Something like a DNow, a Weekend Retreat, a Winter Retreat, these can all be incredible opportunities to plug in your students who have transitioned out of your ministry.
What's most important in regards to the question of what should you do with your students who have graduated, is simply that you DO it. Whether or not you utilize these ideas, or use these as inspiration for your own, it’s most important that you do continue to minister and pour into the students that have graduated.
Watch the video below to learn more about how to continue ministering to your students after they graduate!
Andy Blanks is the Publisher and Co-Founder of YM360 and Iron Hill Press. A former Marine, Andy has spent the last 17 years working in youth ministry, mostly in the field of publishing. During that time, Andy has led the development of some of the most-used Bible study curriculum and discipleship resources in the country. He has authored numerous books, Bible studies, and articles, and regularly speaks at events and conferences, both for adults and teenagers. Andy and his wife, Brendt, were married in 2000. They have four children: three girls and one boy.