This past Sunday, I said goodbye to another group of leaders. I said farewell to faithful attenders. I showed the door to those who have been committed to coming in the door.
We prayed over our graduates and wished them well in their next phase of life, one that does not include coming to youth group each week. A scary world where statistics tell us over half of them will leave the church, seemingly graduating form their faith. They may return a decade later when they have kids. They may not.
Either way, they are out of my physical reach, existing only in the social networking world where we have promised to keep in touch. Whether I had 2 months with them, or 2 years or even 6 years, they have graduated. Even their parents can no longer check in with me, or I with them, to ensure the teen is taking the direction we hope they will take.
And the group they have left behind is now changed as well. There is a new batch of seniors, who have been waiting for their chance to be the top dogs. They have dreamed of their opportunity to be looked up to, whether it has been earned or not. The dynamics have shifted and, on top of that, there is this new group of strangers, looking to make their mark on a group they have not known before. These middle schoolers step into a world they have only seen through a haze of fog and greasy snack food, but one they have longed to be a part of.
I am giddy with excitement for what this new year will bring always hoping for improvement and growth to surpass the previous year. I am simultaneously scared and feeling lost without these seniors I have come to depend on. These leaders who said things that conveyed in jargon I could not speak the message that I hoped to pass along.
What if the next year is worse than the previous?
What if it's better?