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After Teens Graduate: 8 Ways to Keep Kids Connected to Church

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After teens graduate from high school, the youth minister’s “shepherd” calling means they don’t graduate from our lives. Most churches offer little for college-age students. That means your voice and presence in their lives is still primary. Youth workers care and connect with our kids, no matter how old they get!

So retain and extend your post-graduation influence in one or more of these ways.

8 Steps to Take After Teens Graduate

1. Build post-grad bridges.

Spend focused time prepping teenagers for the next step in their journey. Our youth ministry does this in several ways. First, we invite kids on a college trip in January of their senior year. Then we host a connection event during the spring. Finally, in the summer we overlap high school and college ministry activities.

But even if your church lacks a college ministry, hosting a seniors-only small group or taking a senior trip can accomplish the same result. The goal is to get kids involved in something that compels them to stay connected with a caring leader after they leave home and when they return on breaks.

2. Get college addresses before grads leave.

We do this by offering a small e-gift card to Starbucks or a fast-food place that has locations everywhere (something every college student needs). They complete the address form, and we send the card. Bribery works, friends!

And if that’s not budget-friendly, send a self-addressed, stamped postcard to a parent, and let them know what you’re trying to do. They’re typically overjoyed to share that information with a youth leader volunteering to help the college transition.

3. In their first month away, send a personal note.

Include a prayer and scripture passage. Also write a memory that reminds them “whose” they are—and where you are, if they need you!

4. If they attend school close-by, spend a few travel days during the semester to show up for lunch!

College kids are probably poor. Really poor. And most are definitely tired of cafeteria food. Gifting them with lunch off campus offers them a chance to open up with you.