There are a few ways to graduate from High School. There is the traditional way of four years in a public school system, there is home school which is a mixture of home and some school, there is straight home school with online classes, or you could just take your GED and show you have a basic education of things if you want to start work in something you love.

Many states offer some sort of exit exam without the schooling. What’s the point of an exit exam?

“to make sure no student graduates or moves on to other courses without proving they have mastered what they have studied.”

As youth workers, we should also ask the question “Have our students mastered what they have studied?” Mastering may be too strong a word, but do our students understand the basics of faith? How to read their Bibles? How to mature and grow their own faith?

How do we know if a student is prepared to leave our youth ministry?

We may never know if our students are ready to leave.  We may never  create an exam for our students to take, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t quietly ask ourselves the question, “what would better equip our students to get ready for the world waiting for them?’

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Here’s my question to you. If you could create an exit exam to make sure your students knew what they needed to know to move on to the next level, what would it look like?

Would it be a written test? Oral test?

How many questions would they have to answer to satisfy you to move them on? Would it contain Bible questions? Theology questions? Practical questions? Would it be multiple choice? Essay?

Here are six questions I’d put on an exit exam/interview that, if answered correctly, would satisfy me that a student in my ministry was ready to leave

  1. Do you believe God loves you? How do you know?
  2. Do you believe God loves everyone?
  3. In light of God’s love for you and others, how should you live?
  4. How can someone go to heaven? Do you believe you are going to heaven? Why?
  5. How does/should knowing Christ impact how you live?
  6. What impact do you want to have in world for Christ? How will you go about doing this? How can we continue to help you do that?

Let me be clear, no senior will know everything they need to know to face face the world. No matter how hard you work, teach, preach, or mentor students will still have to discover Jesus, just like we did, in every stage of life.

To even consider the question, “What kind of kids do I want to graduate?” is a step in the right direction.

I would encourage you to create your own list and then teach, preach and program to accomplish whatever is on that list, and you’ll have fewer regrets when graduation time comes.

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  1. In order to have what I call a “lasting ministry” (one that has a lasting affect on the students live after they leave the group) it’s important to make sure our students are being prepared for the moment they leave our groups.

    But I’m not sure I’d have an exam – even if I could. I would think of the questions more as my own personal evaluation of their readiness from my observation and interaction with them.

    Each students readiness would be based on two things: 1. Their Relationships & 2. Their Knowledge/Understanding of Information/Truth

    I’d ask 5 questions:

    1. Does this student have a genuine relationship with Jesus? (Relationship)

    I’ve never cared for or expected sinlessness or perfection. I just wanted our students to have a real faith in Jesus.

    2. Do they know why it makes sense to believe in Jesus/Christianity? (Information/truth)

    They need to know the answers to foundational questions: How do we know God exists? How do we know the Bible is God’s word/reliable? How do we know Jesus resurrected from the dead? How do we know that Christianity is right? If God is good, why is there suffering? How can a good God send people to hell?, etc.

    If they haven’t asked and answered these answers by the time they graduate, then they will be disoriented by them when they’re hit by these in college and beyond.

    3. Do they have a biblical worldview on: truth vs. lies, right vs. wrong, and good versus evil? Do they believe and understand that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God? Do they believe in the concept of good vs. evil? (Information/truth)

    These things will help them to evaluate truth/lies, right/wrong out on their own!

    4. Do they have good genuine relationships with other students and adults who are believers? (Relationship)

    People that can/will keep in touch with them after they are not a “youth kid” anymore. People who will encourage them, pray for them, etc.

    These people will be key in helping them continue following Jesus.

    I would think this would be ONE way I would evaluate whether I thought they were ready or now. In reality this ALSO is an evaluation of how well I’VE done in preparing them! 🙂

  2. It would be a sit down, asking them where they are with Jesus, telling them what you’ve observed, preparing them for what they will face in college and blessing them.

  3. I’m struggling with the concept of ‘testing out’ – even metaphorically – because we’re never finished, nor are we ‘done enough’ growing and learning in this life of discipleship. Of course, there are signs of growth in the life of a person, regardless of chronological or spiritual age. With that in mind, I’d say a practical ‘exam’ based entirely on observations made in a student’s real life environments would probably be the best measure.

  4. Paul’s Question Raises a Question…
    Paul’s question is a challenging one for many reasons. For starters, many adults don’t have a faith that greatly surpasses a teenager’s. Many studies show that most adults’ faith fails to move beyond the faith of their adolescence. So the first question really is where to set the bar. This is especially true in traditions with confirmation. In many churches, confirmation is a point of entry into church membership for younger teens. These students, often in 6th or 7th grade, may be required to memorize scripture verses, ancient creeds, and denominational trivia (in spite of today’s ever increasing post-denominationalist climate). In those same churches, more often than not, an adult who is a baby Christian may simply walk up on a Sunday morning and join. The bar for 6th graders is already 20ft high in some churches where the bar for adult entrance barely exists. I’m all for rights of passage, but there seems to be a double standard.

    So What’s The Bar?…
    We have to get back to the basics on this one. The bar for all Christians, no matter their age is: do they “Love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength,” and do they “Love their neighbor as they love themselves”? What should the bar be for a high-school senior then? My idea is for the seniors to answer a series of reflective questions over the course of their last semester in school. Do it in Sunday-School class or other weekly small groups over the course of several weeks. Send home the questions with the students to give them time to really think about their answers. When all the seniors have typed up their answers, publish everyone’s answers in a book to be given away on senior Sunday or at a special banquet. Give an incentive for seniors to answer all the questions; have a banquet only for seniors who went through the process and contributed to the book. Have some seniors read excerpts at the banquet. Proud parents are sure to cry! The published book will make a great graduation gift and prove a useful tool as students go off to face the world after high-school.

    1) This is a new idea that I’ve never actually tried before, and
    2) Students will have to think! Oh darn.

    The Questions
    1.)Who do you say Jesus is? List 15 scripture references with your answer.
    2.)Why is worshiping and fellowshipping with other Christians important? 5-10 sentences
    3.)Tell about one person who has mentored you in the faith, an older Christian who has impacted you. What traits of theirs do you want to become your own? 5-10 sentences
    4.)Name 20 ways other than attending worship services and Bible studies that you can live out your faith, and give a scripture reference to go with each.
    5.)What are some gifts, talents, character traits, and passions that you can use in the church and how will you seek opportunities to use those gifts after graduating?
    6.)What are two verses you would readily share with a college roommate who: <br.
    a. just lost a loved one?
    b. is worried about grades?
    c. is struggling with temptation?
    d. is doubting God’s existence?
    e. is in a bad relationship?
    f. is abusing a substance?
    g. is addicted to pornography?
    h. has low self esteem?

    Why Do This?
    •It gives seniors a chance to dig for real answers on their own. It doesn’t require easy answers, but causes them to think about what it really means to be a Christian.
    •Each student will have a valuable tool with great stories and ideas for how to live and share their faith after high-school.
    •Students will grow closer to God throughout this process. Many may learn the value of reading scripture often and in all life situations.
    •No two seniors will answer exactly the same! They may see things differently by reading a friend’s perspective. There is a life lesson in there somewhere!
    •It doesn’t let them off the hook. Seniors need to know that going to church and being a Christian isn’t supposed to end when they get out of youth group.
    •They are pushed to consider the legacy they will leave behind as Christians.

    Some other useful practices:
    •Contact campus ministry groups and give them the info on your seniors before the seniors ever leave for school. If you can get them a dorm room and a phone number, they can often make contact with the students the first day they move in.
    •Buy each senior a “Congradulations!” CD so that they’ll have some of the latest Christian music and Bible studies with them when they go.
    •Have people in your church adopt seniors and send them care packages.
    •If your church is close to a college, see how you can partner with what campus ministries are already doing.

  5. Pingback: 6 Q’s All H.S. Seniors Need To Answer «

  6. James Cato

    Its not a question of a test but a question of standards. Have we helped them set standers for life and do those standard match Gods system for successful living.
    a youth with x number of years in a youth group that is directed by a consistent youth pastor or pastor will lay the ground work for all this. Any time you find a leader that compromises you will find inconsistent followers. As a leader do we share the truth about Gods word and how to apply it to life? Do you disciple? Do you equip? This means not being preach at on Sunday, but time spent together away from the pulpit.
    we should be the ones tested, are we doing our job and do we care enough to invest in people.

  7. Hard to do because some students aren’t in the ministry from 7th-12th…maybe they started coming in 10th and finished in 12th. But assuming a kid spends 6 years in a youth program here are some possible questions.

    Why is belief in Christ important?
    How should our faith in Christ impact the rest of our life, not just life at church?
    What role should Christians play in the world based on their faith?
    What is the difference between being a humanitarian, and making a difference in the world for the glory of God?
    What are your spiritual gifts and how do you intend to use them after high school?

  8. I’m a big nerd, but this is kinda fun. Actually, there are 30 questions that I pray my students can answer at the end of their time in our student ministry. They are the 30 Core Truths from Dare2Share ( I guess if I trimmed it down to 6 and tried to be practical, here’s my list: (and really outside of the first one, in no particular order)

    1. Who is Jesus and why is He important?
    2. Who’s more important, others or you? How is that reflected in your life?
    3. How do you/want to engage culture/friends/coworkers/etc for the sake of gospel?
    4. How are you planning on investing in the lives of others? Are you doing that now?
    5. How is the Bible different from other faith-based books? Is it inerrant?
    6. Without using a canned presentation, please share your faith journey. How can that be used to lead others to Jesus?

  9. I am not trying to be that guy but I think that there is one question that sums up all these other questions…we need to ask our students if they can hear from God? If they can hear from God then all of the other questions can be answered. We can teach students rules and what not to do and what they should believe but if they can’t hear from God then all of what we say will mean nothing! I am trying with a heart of passion to see my students and students everywhere to HEAR from God. If they cannot hear from God then standards, rules, knowing who God is and His will for their life is irrelevant.

  10. Pingback: 7 Concepts I Want My Graduates To Grasp – Helping Youth Workers Make Life Long Followers Of Jesus

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