Mike Cope's blog

Monday, May 16, 2005

Yesterday was "Senior Sunday" at Highland as we recognized and challenged our 48 high school seniors. A few thoughts: 1. Years ago as we called off their names, we listed all their honors from high school. I never liked that. Some kids had lots of things to mention; others didn't. But why should church be a place where once again someone without all the honors feels left out? Now, we don't even mention those. We're proud of all such honors, and hopefully people have told them so through the years. But on Senior Sunday we tell how they each responded to two questions: Who at Highland has had a profound impact on your faith? What are your favorite memories in the youth group? 2. For almost every senior, something is mentioned about trips. I'd say the majority say, "My favorite part of being in the youth group was going to Mexico." "Faith cometh by hearing" (Rom. 10:17, KJV)? Well, that's true. But faith also cometh by doing -- by participating in the work of God in this world! You might think they'd talk about ski trips or camping trips. Both are wonderful. But it's the time when they go work in the hot sun to build a church building and when they encounter genuine poverty that they remember. 3. I kept hearing the name of Marti O'Rear come up. All those years later (they left her children's ministry seven years earlier!), and they still remember how this amazing woman nurtured their faith--especially in the musicals. 4. Senior-after-senior kept mentioning how Sarah, who only became a full-time youth minister in January, had helped lead them to faith. And someone pointed out that she'd been with them since they were in sixth grade (as an intern). Was she fourteen at the time? (Sheesh, I'm getting old.) 5. I love seeing our huddle leaders up there hugging every senior as they receive their Bible. What a privilege for these students to have been mentored by three such godly, fun couples. But you know what? Try to thank them, and they'll all tell you this: "Hey, we got more out of it than we gave." There is a certain "perk" to being a huddle leader: Your own children have older mentors who are almost part of the family. One of the things you pray for as a parent is for older role models, and this way it's almost guaranteed. 6. I love this Sunday each year. It reminds me how important community is. It reminds me how every lesson taught, every card of encouragement sent, every word spoken in the atrium, every sermon preached matters! 7. My favorite moment was when Jim read one young man's response to "my favorite memory at Highland." I've known him since he was four, so I shouldn't have been surprised. But his favorite memory has been timing the prayers of the elders each week to see who prays the longest. I just didn't see that one coming. And I could hardly bring myself under control. Precious memories come in many different forms.


  • The service at PV honoring graduating seniors a couple of weeks ago featured a video with photos of each student, narrated by a parent - usually a dad - reading a letter written to the child.

    In the foyer, each student had a table that he/she could fill with memorabilia and items precious to them: photos, trophies, retired Bibles, certificates - all kinds of things showed up there.

    It was a great opportunity to get re-aquainted with some emerging from the isolation of teenage and welcome them to fellowship.

    By Blogger Keith Brenton, at 5/16/2005 05:11:00 AM  

  • Thanks Mike - I'm about as tired as person can be for a Monday morning. I was mopping the fellowship hall kitchen floor last night at 10 pm following our Senior Sunday banquet - it was a good night. Better next year as we'll be on the honoree side.

    I do recall an unnamed friend that would jot down a number in church - 13, scratched out, 17, scratched out, 19, etc. Yep - he was timing elder prayers too - the "winner" got his prayer time noted inside the front cover of one of the blue song books.

    By Blogger KentF, at 5/16/2005 05:44:00 AM  

  • Mike-

    I thought that the "soccer tunnel" metaphor was the PERFECT way to describe what we were doing for these guys yesterday. I'm glad you chose to use it.

    By Blogger Matt, at 5/16/2005 06:23:00 AM  

  • Soccer tunnel? Where the parents and coaches line up and form a tunnel with their arms, right? We do that here but hadn't thought about that as a metaphor for going out into life as seniors -- is that what you talked about Sunday? That is good. Thanks for the list of memories. Timing prayers was funny and sure put the church into hysterics. I didn't time prayers but knew even in my childhood that bother Cox could burn some roasts.

    By Blogger Greg Taylor, at 5/16/2005 06:36:00 AM  

  • I just wanted to add my "amen" to the comments about Marti O'Rear. I've been priviledged to know her from our California days. She has an amazing spirit and gift with children. I know there must be many children in her school classroom who are being blessed by her now.

    By Blogger Rhonda, at 5/16/2005 07:06:00 AM  

  • The "timing of the elders' prayers" was so classic. Easily my favorite part of the day.

    I too, thought about the significance of both the trips and the amazing pastoral relationship that Sarah has with so many. Here’s my conclusion:
    For so many teens it is about relationships and communal projects. They remember the relationship with Marti and working together on the musicals. They remember working together on the Mexico trip or working together climbing a mountain.
    They remember the "time" that Sarah spent with them.

    What is so insightful is that hardly (if any) any of the answers that were given to the memory question occurred "INSIDE" of the church building on either Sunday or Wednesday.

    Sarah was great volunteer. She was a great intern. She was a great resident. She is a great youth minister. Why? Because she invests and connects. She is a pastor.

    Last year we even mentioned what their plans were after high school which can make some feel very left out. As much as I would be interested in their future plans, I feel that remaining silent on that area too was a wise call.

    I don't know where God will have Kim and I in May of 2011. I do know that Sunday will be a very powerful testimony of God's overcoming power.

    I don't know what's being done for the huddle leaders. I just know that yesterday I wished I had a surplus of money so I could give them all some "lavish" gift. Truth of the matter is that they have received far more than they have given over these last four years.

    Yesterday truly was a great day.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 5/16/2005 08:53:00 AM  

  • Reading this post is bittersweet for me. These seniors you write about, Mike...I started working with them as a teacher's aide in the fourth grade at Highland. I loved 'em all so much that I moved up to fifth grade with them. And then to sixth grade with the girls (your Diane was teaching the class). I so, so looked forward to being a huddle leader for Highland's class of '05. But life took us in another direction, and I thought my heart would break when I had to leave those precious children. Brandon and I had almost every one of them in our home, and I have continued to carry them in my heart. I still pray for all of them to this day!

    I doubt any of them remember me, but I will always, ALWAYS have a spot in my heart for Highland's class of '05. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on yesterday's assembly.

    By Blogger Jana, at 5/16/2005 12:01:00 PM  

  • 27 years removed from my own "Senior Sunday" at Highland I still thank God for David Lewis ( my Youth Minister and creator of Huddles) and Olen and Sally Frazier (my Huddle Leaders).

    Because of those three, I thank God for our current Youth Ministers and Huddle Leaders. I know the impact they have on my 2 girls . . . who they are . . . and who they will be.

    David, Olen and Sally are the reason I am . . .


    By Blogger Buster, at 5/16/2005 12:25:00 PM  

  • Great memories of Senior Sunday. I'm glad that the focus is not so much on achievements and more on "kingdom business."

    And the kid timing elder prayers....classic. I laughed out loud.

    By Blogger Jenni, at 5/16/2005 07:08:00 PM  

  • I think back to my huddle leaders at Highland and its amazing that two of those couples are still there- The Zellers and the Sutphens- and still working their tails off to help the body. Obviously they were very young while in that role.

    I really felt good about the lack of resume entries. Rather than create a competition, the plain result was a picture of a group with a common heritage and a common, yet extraordinary, goal. I think that is how Christ sees them, too.

    By Blogger Val, at 5/16/2005 09:53:00 PM  

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