High school graduation is upon us, and if statistics ring true, then a majority of teenagers who currently claim to be Christians will abandon their faith sometime after the tassel is turned. Some will turn from it completely and become atheists. Others will put it in a drawer for a time down the road. Still others will have it eroded by hedonism or the Philosophy 101 professor of their secular university.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can help graduating seniors not only keep their faith after high school but also learn to advance it effectively.
So how can you encourage them to stay strong in those precarious young-adult years? Here are four ways:
1. Pray for them to not just survive, but thrive.
Prayer is a vastly underrated tool in helping our teenagers keep their faith long-term. During Jesus’s earthly ministry, He often escaped to pray (Mark 1:35-36), and one of His prayer priorities was interceding on behalf of His young disciples. We see this especially in Luke 22:31-32, when He tells Peter:
‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’
Jesus was praying that Peter’s faith would stand strong amidst trial and temptation. He also prayed that Peter would not just survive but thrive by ministering to the other disciples—most of whom were teenagers—after Jesus had returned to Heaven.
In the same way, we must pray for our graduating seniors to have a strong faith throughout the inevitable trials and temptations they will face. We must also pray that they, like Peter in the book of Acts, will thrive by encouraging other believers to serve Jesus with all of their hearts.
2. Mentally prepare them for what’s coming.
Teenagers need to know that the years following high school can be filled with intense temptations. We need to prepare them mentally and spiritually for this battle.
In Acts 20:29-31, the apostle Paul warned the Ephesian believers about the upcoming trials that awaited them:
‘I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number, men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!’
In the same way, we must prepare our teenagers by speaking forthrightly about the temptations that await them after high school. We must help them be on their guard and learn how to be fully “armored up” with the spiritual protection that Jesus provides every believer (Ephesians 6:11).
3. Inspire them to look at the next few years missionally.
Mormon teenagers graduating from high school often take two years to go on a mission before they head off to college. During these two years, they spread the message of Mormonism door to door across different parts of the planet. After two years of door-knocking and proselytizing, the average Mormon young person knows what they believe and why they believe it.
What if we trained our young people to look at their university training as a four-year mission trip? What if we helped them approach their jobs as if they were missionaries to their coworkers?
Instead of just playing defense by begging our graduates not to abandon their faith, let’s equip them to play offense by teaching them to spread the Gospel. In the process, their faith will grow deeper and their Christian convictions will grow stronger.
If you need help equipping your high school seniors (or juniors or sophomores or freshmen, for that matter) to share their faith, give them the Dare 2 Share Field Guide. This little book will make a big difference in preparing your high schoolers to know how to clearly, compassionately, and confidently share the Gospel with anyone and everyone.
4. Encourage them to plug into a strong Christian community.
A coal without a fire will soon burn out. So will a Christian without a community.
As Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) reminds us:
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.
Finding a solid Christian community in any university setting is essential for teenagers to be “motivated” and “encouraged” to keep and spread the faith. Too often, incoming Christian college freshman get involved in the wrong circle of friends. When this happens, the gravitational pull of temptation and sin become harder and harder to resist. As 1 Corinthians 15:33 reminds us, “Bad company corrupts good character.”
But when incoming freshman circle themselves with on-fire believers right away, the pull is in an upward direction. So how can we help them do that?
Every Student Sent is a great resource to help graduating high school seniors connect with solid campus ministries at their university before they even get there. Students can sign up for free and increase their chances of plugging in to a strong community in their new environment.
For students going directly into the workforce, encourage them to connect with a young-adults group or other ministry in your church or find another group nearby.
If you have any graduates in your ministry, we encourage you, your seniors, and their parents to use the resources mentioned here to help their young-adult years become some of the most spiritually impacting years of their lives.
Let’s stop playing defense and start playing offense by inspiring, equipping, and unleashing our graduating seniors to transform their campuses and workplaces for Christ!