Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is Graduation Really the End?

They're done, but not gone.  

They're college graduates - prepared and equipped to go out and make a difference in the world - but they don't seem quite ready to step across that threshold from collegiate life to post-grad participation in the 'real' world.

So what are we to do?  Especially if they look to us for answers... or for space to 'hide-out' while they try to figure some things out.

Do we give them a firm, but gentle, nudge out of the proverbial 'nest;' OR do we allow them to hang around for a while?

On one hand, we're dealing with a group of graduates who have a degree - yes, but likely are still under-developed in a number of areas given the 'Emerging Adulthood' phase of life that many of them are smack in the middle of.  We're learning more about this new phase of life everyday, but at its core is the fact that most 18-32 year olds are taking longer to step into the 'adult' responsibilities that are a part of life after high school and college.

Couple this with a 'Well-Curve' trend of involvement in our ministries during their 4 years on campus and we may find ourselves feeling like 'real ministry' with many students is only just beginning by the time they are preparing to walk across the stage to receive their diploma.

This, of course, is not even taking into consideration the very real relationships that have also been formed with these students that make ongoing discipleship efforts - as well as a genuine desire to see them succeed -  an important part of this equation.

On the other hand, however, we have hopefully performed the significant task of helping our students learn how to care for themselves spiritually, as well as the significance of plugging into the local church.  While I am a firm believer that what we provide college students is significant, it should NOT replace their involvement in a local church.  What we offer college students is a very unique, and contextualized, experience (or set of experiences).  I think this is a part of what makes our work so important.

But if at the same time we have caused our students to be overly dependent upon us (our ministries), and we have not challenged them to be engaged in a more diverse (multi-generational, etc.) worshiping community [off of campus], than I believe we have ultimately done them a great disservice.

So, what are we to do?

Does your ministry connect students to the local church?
Are your students able to grow spiritually a part from you?
Do you draw any lines in your ministry regarding alumni participation?

I'd love to know what you think!  The more who share, the more we collectively will learn!

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