From the smallest victories to the largest milestones, our youth have a lot to celebrate. They turn sweet sixteen, score goals, shine in a show, earn a driver’s license, and advance to new levels in martial arts and scouting. Teens also survive difficult days, make important decisions, win and lose, meet new friends, discover new hobbies, and set and complete goals.
Think outside of the church walls and mark the special moments of this tough time with an acknowledgment that they will remember—and keep them safe. When you’ve had enough of the drive-by parades, invite volunteers, peers, and families to consider these ideas to pour out a ministry of encouragement and help your students to feel the love of God and their church family.
Give a Simple Gift
Whether it’s a benchmark birthday or that they survived math for a whole week, celebrate with a gift. A gift card for a drive-through soda, stickers for their water bottle, or a big bowl filled with packs of their favorite snacks: gifts for teens don’t have to be extravagant to be memorable. Deliver safely to a student’s front stoop or make arrangements for a designated pick-up area at church.
During COVID times, the simple, old-fashioned ways of celebrating may be the most fitting. Send snail mail postcards, tie a simple balloon to their car door (be sure to check for latex allergies first!), or present a repurposed trophy from a thrift store. Write a funny poem or a silly song. Share a playlist of supportive tunes. Make a Zoom toast and raise a mug in a group nod to an achievement. Reinvent the high-five with a personalized, multi-step salute and share it from a safe distance or in a recording. Even the smallest gesture indicates that you are paying attention and they matter to you.
Public Signs of Care
Go public with a yard sign or banner. Decorate with a flamboyance of flamingos—an entire flock of the plastic treasures cannot escape notice. When you can’t be together, do the next-best thing and pal around with a giant head on a stick—enlarge a smiling photo of the honoree and use it in photos in various spots around town. Craft and fly flags specific to moods at the church when something happens among your youth: flags showing happiness, sadness, and all the emotions in between show a sign of solidarity. Take care not to embarrass anyone with a public celebration, as some students may be sensitive to attention.
Surround your students with support, encouragement, and love in big and small ways during this season.