I made the following post on the discussion boards at Youth Ministry Exchange:
Is it theologically appropriate to recognize graduates in the way we do?
Every year we have a breakfast for our high school seniors and then honor them in the service, have a slide show, and they wear their cap and gowns during the service. I see this as both positive and negative:
- Positive: These youth have worked hard (well, maybe), they have accomplished something, this is an important time in their life, and we need to celebrate that with them. It’s a great transitional time in life and the church should be there in the midst of the transition. It also encourages younger kids to strive for the same thing.
- Negative: Are we limiting ourselves by placing such a high emphasis on education? What about people who don’t graduate high school? Granted, 99% of the students in our groups might graduate, but is that because our communities’ attitudes towards education are unwelcoming to high school dropouts? Are kids who drop out ashamed to show up in our churches? Are we sending a message that the only people who are valuable in our churches are those who are “successful” and educated? If we do continue to celebrate graduation in this way, how can we remain open to dropouts?
And, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t go to our kids’ graduation parties and ceremonies, but asking if it is appropriate to communally and/or in a worship service recognize this (what some would call) privileged demographic in our society. Your thoughts?