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About this time of the year, maybe next month at the latest, something difficult happens. The seniors in your ministry begin to “migrate to warmer climates.” Slowly transitioning to what is next. January may seem early in the year to be writing about losing your seniors, but the reality is that despite your best efforts (we gave you some ideas yesterday) to keep them around, the seniors are looking toward greener pastures, and we think now is a good time to think about the process.

As we talked about this migration phenomenon together, there were some good and bad realizations. Here are a few of them.

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16 lessons that will equip your adult volunteers to grow as leaders in your ministry
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Be glad it is difficult to say goodbye to seniors.

One of the things I (Josh) like is when I hear the youth worker’s voice catch when they talk about how much they love their seniors. I’m SO glad you care about your seniors and it pains you that some are slowly leaving before their time. You care! You love them! You are pastoring them! So while it sometimes sucks that seniors bail early, you are doing the work of Jesus and caring for his sheep.

Be glad they’re ready to more on.

It is hard to think of this as a celebration, but you should want them to want to leave. This is a good thing; they are ready for the next stage! If you’ve been at a church for a long time, this is the most painful; youth workers new to a church typically don’t let the door hit the seniors on the way out.
Help them to the finish line either way.

So they’re not coming to youth group quite as often—don’t give up on them just yet. Is there a way you can creatively minister to them—maybe with texts, notes, or one-on-one meetings? Maybe resource them, let them know you care and are available if they want to connect. Just because someone isn’t attending youth group doesn’t mean they don’t have any commitment to Christ, so work hard on fanning the flame, no matter how small the flicker may be.

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16 lessons that will equip your adult volunteers to grow as leaders in your ministry
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Don’t mourn too long … you’ve got new freshman to worry about!

One of the best parts of youth ministry is that students are supposed to leave—at best you have them as “yours” for just a few years during some of the most crucial times of their lives. And when that time is over…there are plenty more coming right up behind them, eager and excited to be a part of your ministry. In fact you probably already have 8th graders sneaking into your high school group because they’re ready to move up, too.

Here we go again!

1 COMMENT

  • Mike Andrews says:

    This is one of the most consistently difficult issues of youth ministry. Great reminder to send them off well, and continue to develop the younger students as well.

    My group is pretty senior heavy this year, and they were the youngest Middle Schoolers when I started with this ministry. I’m not looking forward to saying good-bye, but excited to see what God has in store for them next! Is there any other time in youth ministry that is more fully of contradicting emotions!?

    (I wrote a little bit about this last week, too at http://imminentcrash.com/confessions-of-a-pack-rat .)

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