366. Help Youth Transition Well

366. Help Youth Transition Well
Photo by Bruno Nascimento / Unsplash

As April approaches grade twelve youths are beginning to plan for their life next steps. Choosing which post-secondary institution to attend, solving housing, summer opportunities, and more are all part of the discussion. Among these many things, I hope church is another next step they are thinking about.

While it’s true that transitional periods like moving up from high school to post-secondary is often an opportunity for youth to leave the church, it doesn’t have to remain this way. As an intergenerational ministry we have the special opportunity to be able to encourage graduating youth by starting the conversation about church earlier than later. Just like with every transition, starting early helps the transition go smoothly.

I’m thankful for many adults taking the initiative to start talking with the graduating youth and building good connections. We may not know it, but simply by doing this we’re encouraging them towards thinking about church by sending this message: adult house church is friendly, too. If we wait until they’re already graduated to do this, it might too late. Youth are deciding what to about their faith-life right now, just like the rest of their decisions about post-secondary.

Here’s my advice when we converse with youth, especially the graduating youth. As we continue to ask them about their plans about their future school-life, let’s also ask them about their plans for their future church-life. An example could be, “have you thought about which house churches to visit for adult HC?” Simply by asking them we (1) remind them of this reality, we (2) encourage them through our care and concern, and (3) more accurately discern real solutions to help them transition well.

I believe this not just a “youth ministry” thing, but a “future of the church” thing. When a youth is faced with the decision, “do I want to stay at this church as an adult?” there will be a difference between a youth who experienced watching adults mingle only with adults and a youth who experienced adults reaching out to them, taking an interest in their faith and decisions. Initiating conversation might seem like a small thing, but it can make a big impact, when decisions about church are on the line.

So let’s extend ourselves to love before youth start visiting our house churches. Before they come to us, let’s go to them. Because the earlier, the better.