During HorizoNext in Grapevine, one of the questions submitted was about recognizing high school graduates. We had a great discussion, and I'd like to share a few of the ideas we discussed.
- The Best Gifts May Not Be What You Expect. One person shared their process for the gifts they present on Sunday morning. He shared how when he began at his church, he would ask the senior classes what they wanted. One year, the seniors said it would be cool to get a relay baton. He thought it was kind of cheesy, but presented relay batons complete with an engraving of the senior's name. A few months later, he was able to visit one in college and saw the baton sitting in their dorm room, and he was shocked. He now gives batons each year and kids love them. Have you considered asking a few seniors for ideas?
- Make Them Meaningful. One person shared they would buy Bibles for each senior. Before presenting them, however, they would allow church members to write their favorite verses or passages on a card to be presented with the Bible. Another person shared how they would let youth leaders highlight their favorite verse in each Bible. Another shared how they, during a regular meeting, presented each senior with a plank of wood with the word "Go" etched in and then signed by everyone in attendance that night, and then had younger kids share encouraging words about each senior. Each of these examples make a great gift, but the personal touch helped it go above and beyond.
- Consider Beating the Rush. Finally, one of the ideas we discussed was the possibility of recognizing Seniors before the rush of Graduation hits. What if you took time in February to identify and celebrate with seniors, at a time where they can see the finish line, but it seems so far off? Could you come alongside them and their families and help them push through the final few months by recognizing them earlier?
Ultimately, each church is unique and makes decisions based on their own identity. But for me, as Youth Pastor, I was challenged and energized by this discussion and hope to a great job helping the Class of 2017 finish well.
Wes Henson is Leadership Director for Horizon and blogs regularly at www.threequestionleadership.com.