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Why Senior Sunday Saddens Me

Let me preface this post by saying I have been at my church for under a year. I understand that you have to jettison a senior class or two within a youth ministry to expunge former philosophies and practices and to import new ones that will grow over time. That does not make this Sunday any less sad. This Sunday is Senior Sunday. Eighty percent of the seniors I am graduating, I have not had any significant relationship with nor have they been involved in the youth ministry meetings or events over the past year. This means, when I stand up to introduce them to the congregation, I will not be able to

  • Share stories of spiritual growth
  • Share moments from trips or events
  • Share about about how much I care about them (I do but it’s hard to really care about people you don’t know)
  • Share about funny moments we all shared

Even sadder, their parents could care less if I shared about these things. Maybe because they have had all the spiritual moments they needed in life. Maybe because with strong family units they did not need another spiritual community. If this is the case, then maybe I am not the one to introduce them. Maybe their parents should. I will share their scripts of accomplishments, clubs, hobbies, and their future plans. Here is a another saddening realizations. Their future, unfortunately,  includes

  • Not attending church
  • Not continuing to grow in their faith
  • Not caring whether the generations that come up after them in the youth group will have spiritual role models

What if I read that as their future plans in addition to going to college? Right, like a lead ballon. Can you say job hunting? The last of the saddest news is, I don’t know if their is an answer for our community. Oh, I could say Jesus is the answer but that is trite, and quite frankly, stupid. Jesus is not duck tape, You don’t slap him on broken spiritual lives and hope it holds them together. No, the problem is deeper and broader. Our community and church is unique like yours. You may have a great system or program for this, but I tell you now, it will not work here.

To quote the great philosopher Dirty Harry, “A mans got to know his limitations”- Magnum Force. I know mine. I also know God’s, He has none. Only God, by his grace, can save, inspire, and bring to pass, the spiritual growth needed to move this community past Senior Sunday. I have no confidence  in the flesh. I have great confidence in God, but, that does not make me any less sad.

Do you face a similar situation? How have you dealt with it?

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paulturner@churchleaders.com'
Paul lives in Birmingham, Al. with my wife and three great kids, two of which are teenagers. He has been a youth leader for 20 years.