Monday, May 28, 2007

A Milestone on THE WAY

It's graduation time! Not for me but for those who have completed the requirements of the schooling in which they have been participating. Serving in youth ministry, I have gotten to celebrate and be a part of a number of graduations. There is always a sense of hope and looking to the future. There is celebration of past accomplishments combined with the excitement of looking forward to new adventures. There is joy over the completion and sadness over the potential loss of relationships. It is an amazing time.

Over the last few weeks I have also been reading about what the church of Jesus is supposed to look like. Something interesting struck me when I was reading about baptism. Baptism is supposed to be a time of celebration of a new believer's entrance into the family of God. It is a time where the community of believers can gather around someone or someones and invite them into the fellowship of Christ followers. We can rally around this new disciple and encourage them that they are not in this adventure alone. Whether or not we are accomplishing this task in the way we currently due baptism is beside the point for this discussion.

What this led me to think about was other dedication rituals that we often partake in as a body of believers. We dedicate babies and vow to help the parents raise the child in Christ honoring ways. Do we truly mean it? Do the parents truly want the community of believers around them to take part in raising this child? Again, this may be material for another discussion. What I did think about were ways that we as the body of Christ can use times like graduation to gather around a young believer and challenge them in their journey with Jesus.
  • I wonder if we take the time to publicly commission these young women and men to chase after the leading of Jesus in the next phase of their lives. We often stand them up and congratulate them and even give them gifts. But do we challenge them to boldly charge into the next phase of their lives with the desire to do God's will wherever He might lead them?
  • Could we be more intentional about mentoring these young people as they walk through this modern day rite of passage? Do we take them under our more experienced wings and guide them in how to find God's will? How many of us offer to truly help them along the upcoming path? We cannot let them transition to a new phase of life and expect them to know how to do it while following Christ on their own! We must gather around them and let them know they have a family who cares for them and will help them on their way.
  • The Bible tells about communities of believers commissioning new leaders by laying hands on them and praying for them. Are we taking the time to gather around graduates and pray for them?

Society has set up this time of year as a milestone in the lives of thousands of young people. As the church we need to use this milestone as a time for the family of God to encourage a young person on their way in Christ. Let's not just give these men and women token congratulations and gifts. Let's surround them with the love of Christ and help guide them on their new adventure on the Way!

1 comment:

Erin Crisp said...

A great reminder. I wonder why we aren't as intentional about commissioning graduates in church world? Although... my home church in Woodstock had a banquet for all of its graduates each year (potluck after church on Sunday) and Pastor Dale always spoke about keeping Christ first in our futures. I know that was a pivotal moment in my leaving-the-nest-for-the-real-world process. We'll have to keep this in mind for our next church.