Graduation season is upon us. Many teens who are a part of our communities will be launching into new adventures in the coming months. This is a time of radical transition for many of our new young adults. They are leaving the structured world of high school, YOU and parental rules to head for college, military service, moving out or being an “adult” living with their parents. I have heard may people say that young people have to go and explore the world in this time, and while I agree, I believe they can explore and still have a spiritual support system.
Social media has brought us far in the quest to stay connected with each other as we move about the country and world, but there is still more that can be done as a spiritual community to intentionally support our young adults as they venture out into the world. Here are some of the ideas I have shared with leaders over the years:
Gift of a book—There are many great Unity publications about our teachings and how to have a great life. Be sure to choose something that is a lighter read than the textbooks that are about to take over a college student’s life.
Adopt a grad—Invite members of the congregation to adopt each of your grads, committing to send encouraging e-mails, cards and care packages to those who have moved far away and to the ones still nearby.
“Where are they now” bulletin board—Include a picture of recent grads, contact info (if they agree), updates on how they are doing and prayer requests. This could also be used for members of the community who are away serving in the military. Whenever people on the board visit they get to know that their community still is there for them.
Welcoming committee—For every member of your congregation who is moving away from your city, find out where they are going and send a letter of introduction to the minister in the new city. If you receive notification of someone moving to your area, ask someone to reach out and welcome them. If it is a young person who may not have transportation to church, make sure they know who to contact to get a ride.
Retreats—Be sure they have information about upcoming regional NGU retreats, the YOU reunion and Next Generation of SEE (Spiritual Education and Enrichment) week at Unity Village this summer. Consider offering financial support for them to stay connected to Unity through these transformational events.
SEE classes—Personally invite your teens and young adults to SEE classes. Invite congregants to cover the cost of registering their credits. (SEE credits are valid for 10 years and can be extended for teens.)
Invest some time and thought into honoring these new adults’ time in your community and supporting them in their new role as adults. They will be able to look back and say, “My spiritual community, Unity, really supported me through the time of change and growth.” Isn’t that what ministry is about?