RYM 024: Why Graduation Is Not The Finish Line (With Kara Powell)

In most areas of ministry, there’s a finish line. There’s a finish line for that weekend retreat. There’s a finish line for that message you’re writing. And if we’re not careful, we tend to apply that same mindset to the students in our ministries as they graduate. But should graduation really be the end of our influence in a teenager’s life? This week, join Kara Powell joins ministry leaders for a conversation about equipping and walking with students long after their high school graduation.

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About half of youth group graduates drift away from God and the Church when they graduate from high school. (3:00)

Only 1 in 7 youth group graduates felt prepared by their youth ministry when they entered college. (6:00)

When asked what advice they would give to their youth group leaders, college students said they would want to be prepared better for what they would experience after high school. (7:00)

The biggest mistake youth leaders make is that they prepare their students too little and too late. (10:30)

We make the mistake of identifying a finish line for our students in so many areas. (12:00)

What do you do with a graduate who keeps coming back to youth group? (12:30)

Are high school students being set up well to integrate into the adult congregation of the church once they graduate? (14:00)

A lot of times we think doubt is inherently bad. However, there is a correlation between doubt and faith maturity. (23:00)

Doubt isn’t toxic to faith—silence is. (24:00)

We need to equip our leaders to engage students in a conversation where they can ask questions, debate, and express their doubts. (25:00)

“I don’t know, but . . . ” is a great response when students ask questions you don’t know how to answer. (27:00)

If you want to give your seniors something for graduation, give them a gift card for coffee and tell them to invite an adult in their life out for coffee. (41:00)


Book: Sticky Faith by Kara Powell

Book: Lead Small by Reggie Joiner and Tom Shefchunas

Book: Can I Ask That? (Leader Guide) by Kara Powell, Jim Candy, and Brad Griffin

Book: Growing Young by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin

Product: Senior Sunday

Resource: Fuller Youth Institute




Brett is an XP3 Orange Specialist with Orange after spending 11 years in full time ministry. He’s been married to his amazing wife since 2004. They have three amazing and hilarious kids who constantly keep them busy and laughing. He loves baseball, golf and makes amazing turkey melt sandwiches (if he has the time and ingredients, otherwise they’re just average).


Dr. Kara E. Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 Women to Watch, Kara also serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and is the author or co-author of The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband, Dave, who is a medical device engineer, and their children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica.


Charlie is an XP3 Orange Specialist at Orange after spending the past 20 years working with students in educational and ministry settings. Most recently, Charlie spent 12 years as the middle school youth pastor in a thriving Methodist church in the Metro Atlanta area. Charlie grew up in rural Illinois but has been living in metro Atlanta, GA for the past 14 years. She lives with her husband Eric, her sometimes snarky but lovable daughter, and their three pups.



Ashley Bohinc serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange, co-host of The Think Orange Podcast, and co-author of The Art of Group Talk. She’s worked with students in public education, athletic, and ministry settings since 2005. Ashley is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating onstage, developing leaders, working with students, and engaging in world missions. Additionally, she’s the USA Director of Carry 117. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.

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Orange Conference 2018