Beyond Pomp and Circumstance

Apr 23, 2020 9:00:00 AM / by Tera Michelson

Whatever it may look like during the global pandemic of 2020, graduation is coming. Our senior students have long been preparing for a new stage of life as they end high school. How do we help them not to graduate from church life, but instead graduate to a rich and meaningful adulthood of faith?

Try these four strategies to support your high school seniors and their families through this transition into a flourishing post-high-school faith.

Encourage Faith Talk

In 18 years, practical life lessons bubble to the top. The deeper lessons of faith often come by example. Prompt families to embrace quarantine time and share their personal stories of faith:

  • My faith in God really grew when . . .
  • I go to worship because . . .
  • The people who support my faith are . . .
  • A difficult time in my faith was when . . .
  • Three things I enjoy about our church community are . . .

Offer a Blessing

Celebrate the new beginnings of graduation with a quarantine-friendly family blessing. Use the poignant poem “For Graduation” from Meta Herrick Carlson’s Ordinary Blessings, reprinted at the end of this blog post. Gather around a lit candle to read the poem aloud. Ask the graduate to respond to a few questions before you offer congratulations in a toast:

  • What are your favorite learning moments?
  • What are some obstacles you had to overcome?
  • Who would you like to thank for their support?

Be an Anchor

By Jesus’ example, relationships are the most compelling tie to a church community. Throughout this season and beyond, continually remind your senior students that they are loved. Graduates are our family and we are their home base no matter where they go.

  • Link each student with a caring church member who will connect with them throughout their young adult years.
  • Send handmade holiday cards from your church’s youngest members.
  • Pray for them by name during worship.
  • Broadcast selfies during the passing of the peace at worship.

Create Touchpoints

Give your young adults opportunities to circle back to your church family. Keep your doors and hearts wide open to students’ evolving lives.

  • Plan regular reunions for their peers at natural gathering times like holidays and summertime.
  • Feature a panel of graduates to share their experiences with younger students.
  • Invite graduates into participation and leadership.

As the nationwide quarantine presses pause on your seniors’ spring, instilling hope can help them look beyond the pomp and circumstance and prepare for a lifetime of deepening their faith.

“For Graduation” by Meta Herrick Carlson

So you know some things.
You’ve also noticed
how much there still is to discover.

You are both humbled and emboldened
by this gain and ground.
What’s next?

Do not be fooled by the trite questions,
the expectations about pressing forward.
There is no right answer to how you
keep becoming.
There is no degree or title that can
fulfill all of who you are.

Delight in the wisdom
and those who shared it.

Invest in the service
and those who need it.

Be thankful for the support
and those who gave it.

You are being sent
to speak what is true
to do what is kind
to give what is necessary
so that your knowledge and mystery
are alive in the world
for all to share.


From Ordinary Blessings: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Everyday Life by Meta Herrick Carlson. Available wherever books are sold.

Topics: Youth Ministry

Tera Michelson

Written by Tera Michelson

Tera Michelson is a silver-haired youth leader, serving the church since 1994. She loves Jesus and teens. She is a pastor’s spouse, mother of three, and writes at the world’s loudest house on a hilly street in Ohio.


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