Alpha Canada invited youth pastor, Geoff Stewart, to write a message to the class of 2021 to congratulate you for making it through 2020 (Amen and amen), and also to give you six things to reflect on in this new stage of life as you continue to follow after Jesus.
You did it, you finished High School, and this rite of passage may not feel like a big deal, but it truly is. You have reached a crucial juncture in your life, where up until now, you were protected like a river by the sturdy banks and structure of school, family, and youth group. Now you stand at the place where the river meets the ocean, the directions are infinite, the possibilities endless, and whether you like it or not, this is your new reality. Some of you may have your course charted and know where you are going; others might not know yet. Both options are great, but as you move into this phase, here are some things to consider as you think about Life, Faith, and God in the next season of life.
You might find yourself in a new place next year, and getting connected is your best first step as you move away. Jesus teaches in John 15 using the illustration of a vine and its branches and that the branches that remain connected to the vine will bear much fruit. The same is true of you; find a faith community to be a part of, whether it’s a church, a campus Bible study, a local young adults group. Let me say it differently; if you have ever had a great campfire and a log rolls out, it doesn’t take long for it to go out. Keep your faith vibrant by plugging in, finding community, and staying connected to other believers.
It’s Okay Not To Know It All
One of the biggest lies that Christians believe is that they need to know everything about God to have a conversation about God. The truth is that your commitment to learning WITH someone is as or more compelling than having an answer to all their questions. You can lead if you are a learner; you can have meaningful conversations about faith if you are curious and humble enough to admit you are unsure. There will be lots of these conversations in the next season of life as you and those around you take the faith you inherited and truly make it yours.
Don’t Be Surprised By Seeds You Did Know You Planted
I encourage my students that the first sermon that anyone hears is your life, and as you leave high school, please know that there are many people in your sphere of influence that have taken notice. When life gets hard, uncertainty comes, or tragedy strikes, don’t be surprised by who you hear from. There will be people who look at your life, your faith, and the way you navigate things and reach out for a conversation, prayer, encouragement. The Bible uses many illustrations about sowing seeds; God may surprise you by which ones took root without you knowing it.
Don’t forget where you came from
You might find yourself feeling lonely at times, leaving behind familiar people, places, communities but please don’t forget where you came from. Your Youth Pastor, small group leaders, teachers are likely as sad as you to say goodbye. I would encourage you in the strongest way possible to take the step if you so desire to reach out to meet, to pray, to process. One of the greatest joys of my time as a Youth Pastor is connecting with students post-graduation. I love celebrating their successes, being excited about the career steps, and being invited into the hard stuff. To sit with them in person or over the phone and pray with and for them. Just because life takes you from these places does not take you away from the relationships and love of your leaders.
Uncertainty can increase our reliance on God
One of my favourite quotes is from a guy named Corrie Ten Boom (quite the name) who said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” There will be uncertainty in the next season of life, but this is a prime opportunity to lean further into God. If you are not sure what you want to do next, you can trust your future to God and lean in. The same goes for you that knows exactly what you feel called to, trust the unknown future to God. The best advice I could give you is to ask God to show you the opportunities or doors to step through and follow him and avoid simply asking God to come along with your plans. He made you, He knows you, and He has gifted you to do something. The easiest way to find out what it is, is to ask God and ask those your trust to tell you how they sense God has uniquely gifted you.
Geoff Stewart is an Alpha Youth Champion and the Youth Pastor at Peace Portal Church in South Surrey, BC where has been doing youth ministry for more than 20 years. Geoff is passionate about empowering students to lead and develop their giftings. When he is not spending time with students, he and his wife Lavonne and their kids Jack and Wynnie are either camping or at Disneyland.