Thursday, May 1, 2014

End of School Year Events

Someone asked me what my favorite food was. I said, "a left-over hamburger after the End of the Year Cookout". There is either a sense of satisfaction at the end of a campus year done well or.....thank goodness that mess of a year is over! The campus where I used to serve is having their End of the Year Cookout today. I'm not attending or a part of it, but I still enjoyed knowing it was today. I might eat a hamburger late tonight.

For most, it's too late to think about what end of the year events should be, look like, or accomplish this year. But, this may be a good time to think about next year's event. Or, you might even fine tune one you have scheduled for soon.

I had the privilege yesterday of attending an Appreciation Luncheon for all the churches and volunteers who had provided meals for the campus ministry's weekly outreach lunch program. A nice meal was served by students. Students gave testimonies about what it had meant in their spiritual life or connection. A brief video was shown with pictures of students listing the places they will serve in missions and ministry this summer. When it was over and they had left, most had already signed up to do it again next year, plus, they knew a lot more about what they were supporting. Is there some group you should hold an Appreciation Luncheon for?

One of the truths of College Ministry is that students tend to disappear as the semester moves toward it's conclusion. There are papers to write, make-up tests to be done and maybe even Chapter One to be read. They haven't left the ministry.....they just haven't been there. A special event at the end can help them re-connect before leaving for the summer. I always believed if you did not see a student the last month of school (no matter what the reason), you likely would not see them in the fall. For many years we did a big Cookout with even some "Olympic games" competition. In later years it became simply a cookout with some fun reocgnitions and praying over those who would be serving in Summer Ministry. Seniors who are gaduating are prayed over. A favorite thing of mine was asking who was getting married that summer and we would recognize them and have a special time of prayer for them.

A friend has a weekly event called The Gathering. Last week he had an event called "The Scattering". There the focus was on commissioning and praying over students who will serve in ministry this summer. A challenge was issued for all to walk with the Lord throughout the summer. An event such as this also helps other students begin to think how they might spend NEXT summer. The seeds of calling for the future can be planted.

A banquet is the concluding event for some. Awards can be given. God's movement in people's lives is shared. It is a fun and formal event with a spiritual purpose.

Sending graduating seniors off can be a separate event too. Several years ago we began hosting a cookout at our house for all the graduating seniors. It was all fun and relaxation, except, there was a 2 minute speech from me before the blessing. Here's my points: 1. Take what you have learned to do here and use it in a church wherever you go. 2. Remember, that much of what you have benefitted from has been made possible by alums who give $25 or more per year to our Alumni Fund. 3. You can eat and run or hang around and visit as long as you want; I'm going to bed about 11.

Questions to ask about your End of Year Events:

1. Are we re-connecting students at the end?

2. Are we thanking people who need to be thanked?

3. Are we planting seeds for next year and even years to come?

4. Are we celebrating what God has done this school year?

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