Equipping high school seniors for the 'real world'
May 18 2001 by Jodi Mathews , Baptist Center for Ethics

Equipping high school seniors for the 'real world' | Friday, May 18, 2001

Friday, May 18, 2001

Equipping high school seniors for the 'real world'

By Jodi Mathews Baptist Center for Ethics It is the day students dream about from the first day of high school - graduation. For many, the thought of what lies beyond high school and even youth group stirs questions and concerns about what it takes to survive "out there." "I went to the Texas A&M Web site and found over 700 clubs and organizations on campus," said Jeff Moran, minister of education at Jersey Village Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. "Some 130 of those were religious ... so many want you to be a part of their group or organization."

The bombardment of worldviews and opportunities for involvement is good reason young people need to be strong in their faith and committed to God before they leave home, Moran told the Baptist Center for Ethics (BCE).

Many churches are trying to close the gap on educating and preparing high school seniors for life outside the youth group.

Bible studies and mission trips for high school seniors are a couple of ways churches are reaching out to this specific group.

"We encourage our youth to ponder a sense of calling, seeking to serve God and others vocationally, as opposed to decision making that places economic reward as the highest goal in choosing a career," said Jack Glasgow, pastor at Zebulon Baptist Church in Zebulon.

High school seniors need challenging discussion and an environment where they can express themselves honestly, doubts and all, Glasgow said.

This "open" forum of discussion and expression seems to be what these transition teens need from their church and youth group.

Chris Curran, youth minister at Jersey Village Baptist Church, said that sometimes the belief system of youth needs to be "torn down" and built back up before they head off to college, their career or the military.

Are their morals and ethics right? Is there a better way to approach relationships than the way mom and dad taught?

Curran told BCE these are a couple of questions teens begin asking themselves when they are out on their own. "All students will face people who are different and who will invite them to test their adolescent boundaries," he said.

These "tests" can provide opportunities for youth to grow or flounder.

Glasgow said encouraging students to connect with a campus ministry group and to attend church regularly is fine, but church leaders also need to commit to keeping in touch with those youth and "express concern for and interest in their lives."

"In the balance for these college students, young workers, and soldiers or sailors is whether they will see themselves as forgotten or ignored by their church or whether they will see the church as continuing to care for and support them as they move beyond high school," Glasgow said.

And when those faithful teens try religious experiences and organizations different than those of their home church, Glasgow said it is important not to disapprove, but to engage in good dialog about these new journeys teens will take.

Along with encouraging further spiritual growth and connectedness to the church life, youth leaders should also provide encouragement to their seniors by acknowledging their strengths and helping them find the career or life path that best fits them.

"It is incumbent on youth ministers and youth leaders to recognize the strategic responsibility they share in providing students with affirmation and encouragement in areas where we feel they have strengths," said Ken Dibble, youth ministries consultant for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board. "Often teenagers are unaware of others' observation and interpretation of their unique talents, skills and abilities."

Youth leaders can be someone outside the youth's immediate family "to add confirmations to directions they may already have decided upon or give them a reason to consider other options which haven't been considered before," Dibble said.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Jodi Mathews is BCE's communications director. This article is reprinted with permission from Y!, the BCE's youth-centered e-newsletter.)

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5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jodi Mathews , Baptist Center for Ethics | with 0 comments
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