Honoring Seniors


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We had our annual senior banquet last week. It's when we (the body, the whole church) tell the students how we saw God use them in their time at our church. It's stories of transformation, stories that hopefully will be a spiritual marker for them.

And there is a risk in doing a banquet this way...what about those who never showed up, never fit in, never served? Is the banquet a penalty to those kind of students? What if their investment in the Kingdom was outside the church walls?

So, is it worth the risk (and complaints) for the purpose of celebrating the life-changing work of God AND to cast vision to the younger students of what is going to be said at their banquet OR do you play it safe and find another way to honor seniors?


10 Responses to “Honoring Seniors”

  1. Blogger Jason Retherford 

    Grant,

    This sounds like a really cool way to honor the seniors. We do things a little different, but one things if for sure there are still some comments that are negative and positive either way.

  2. Blogger CL 

    I love this. I have struggled with this same issue for a long time. This issue applies in so many other ways as well. I have more to say, maybe I will share more later - probably a whole 'nother post. Blessings.

  3. Blogger David Moss 

    I struggle with this as well - we have a Senior class of about 14 but only 6 are regular attendees and of those, 4 are really involved. Various and sundry reasons for this but that is for another time. As far as our time of celebration of what they have achieved, I have invited all to our worship service to recognize thier achievement of navigating thru H.S. Will see what the response is....but for those that don't respond I plan on writing a personal letter including a prayer for their continued journey with Jesus and letting them know that the door is always open for coffee, conversation, and a place to ask questions. It is a hard issue - some kids feel like you never really reached out to them, some parents feel like you haven't done enough to share Jesus with them, etc. Still - I gotta believe that the interactions, even if very few, are part of a bigger picture and I'm only to unconditionally show them the love of Christ - even in the absence of what may be defined as a strong bond, friendship, or relationship. God's gotta plan.....praise Him!

  4. Blogger Jovan 

    We just had our senior banquet honoring eight out of ten seniors. Six of them are active members and five of them still come to youth gatherings. One of them I could get in contact with and the other declined to come. Our banquet was held last Thursday evening with a private audience consisting of parents, friends, ministers, shepherds, and deacons. A few weeks prior we took up pictures from the attending seniors showing a progression in age. We then asked the parents to record 3 minutes of advice, funny stories, favorite scriptures, and/or words of encouragement. Our AV guy then made a slideshow that had music and the parent’s words of encouragement. There’s lots of tears shed during the show – it’s great.

    I invited one girl who’s family has actually placed membership with another church where she now attends also. I was told by one parent that if I invited her I should have invited every senior who has once been a member at our church and then moved to another. I just wanted to show them that we still cared about them. I’ve never based my invitations on whether they participated in church activities. Last year there were two families that attended the banquet that I barely even knew. Even though they were not involved in much at church they greatly appreciated us honoring their children.

  5. Blogger Grant 

    I hear your pain as to who to invite.

    We finally(!!!) decided to invite everyone we could think - seniors who used to go, don't go, have thought about going, whatever...

    BUT be very explicit as to what was going to happen that night - we were going to swap God stories of how we saw Him use and transform them.

    Now the "burden of proof" is exactly where it should be - on the parents and the student, not on the youth workers.

  6. Blogger J-Wild 

    To err on the side of inclusion is not a bad thing. To the kids who have "earned" the praise of the evening by being leaders, made good decisions, and attended everything whenever the doors were open it's a good final lesson to learn. Jesus can be the Lord of the committed and half-hearted after all I call him Lord and I know I don't give my all, all the time.

    If I am being honest I have felt a slight resentment towards those kids who have not been interested in whats going on at the church. Perhaps it's me, or the church, the youth group, or their hearts that have kept them from not being as involved. In any case it's up to me to give them the final message that God is still here, and you still belong, and to bury my own personal ego when it comes to events like this. I think that is a powerful message.

    In the end I don't want my teens to get the idea that you are only worth celebrating if you come to every event, lead every devo, and grow the most spiritually. God doesn't offer me a minor place at the table because I am not as influential of a YM as a Doug Fields or a Duffy Robins. Nor does he exclude the marketing manager from a place just because the majority of her life's work isn't done in the ministry.

    We shouldn't withhold a place at the table just because a kid hasn't always been involved. I definately say it's worth the risk. You never know what the Spirit can do when we give a little bit more up to His control.

  7. Blogger JD 

    I appreciate all the thoughts here. Our church has a long tradition that I do not care for. We collect a monetary gift from anyone who wants to give, then we split it among the graduates. I resent it when someone who hasn't been to the assembly in four years shows up for Senior reception to collect some of the pot. That's one reason it's a bad idea. Another reason is that instead of giving a nice sum, some people toss in a dollar or two.

    But ... in all of the things I would like to see happen, this is low on the totem pole of concerns.

    We have one senior this year...she is one of our elder's daughters ... a wonderful Christian girl ... and I'm sure she will receive many well-wishes.

    My favorite Senior thing was many years ago ... I still have a video of it somewhere ... where the Parents filled out a questionaire that had questions about 'twenty years from now' ... they used it as a time to really roast the kids. It was hilarious. Of course each one expressed their love at the end.

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