Tag Archives: conGRADulations

I Need Something Other Than A Book To Give To My Grads

STORY 25 from 30 Years, 30 Stories in YLO100

061115_ylo100_30stories_blogsEditor’s Note: This is one of a series of 30 Stories that appeared in the 100th edition of Youth Leaders Only. Make sure you check out the other great stories  from this special edition celebrating 30 years of YLO. 

We have done over 50 music-based ministry projects: Centrifuge Camp Music Projects (1988-1992), More Than Gold (1996, 2000, 2002), Insiders Guide To High School (1999), Surviving Middle School, Fatherlove (1987), A Mother’s Love (1988), Pump’d Workout Music (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), Soundtraxx (for Assemblies of God Youth Sunday School Curriculum Companion), and tons more. This story told by our long time Team interlinc Member Chris Renzelman is probably our favorite.

“One day I was sitting at our church library table with two interns who both happened to be recent graduates. We began discussing the needs of students in the transitional season of life and what resources were available to them. We were actually looking for a graduation gift beyond the smorgasbord of book options we historically offered each senior. We hoped for something more culturally engaging that would encourage our grads along their path toward adulthood. I had benefited from the Jesus Movement music of the 70’s (Second Chapter of Acts, Love Song and others) and as well as the resources provided from my association with Word Records northwest field representative Jim Brady. As the three of us met that day in 1989 we wondered if such a collection of grad-theme related music might be compiled for use as a gift for graduating seniors. It was launched for the Class of 1990. The ConGRADulations! music-based graduation gift was born!”




Gift ideas for your graduating seniors


 Guest post by Chris Wilterdink, Director of Young People’s Ministries Program Development for the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church

A friend of mine recently posted in one of our collaboration groups, looking for suggestions of gifts for their seniors upon graduation from high school. A great conversation ensued not only about items to give, but about graduation season in general.

Just because a young person is graduating out of high school doesn’t mean they are graduating out of the life of your church or ministry. Now that a young person has wrapped high school, you may feel as though your role as a youth minister is completed – you’ve gotten another class of young people through graduation after all! The gifts you have poured into your youth will continue to bear fruit for years to come. Therefore, the specific gifts you give them to celebrate their graduation from high school shouldn’t focus the end of a journey, or the end of this time in their lives. Instead, the gifts you give at graduation should remind them that they will continue to be loved and cared for by your congregation no matter what life holds in store for them!

A youth’s desire to learn more about faith, and needs from God will change as they transition into young adulthood. The gifts you choose to give in this season should serve as reminders that your youth still have a collection of people that will care for them as brothers and sisters in Christ. That being said, here’s 7 great ideas for gifts this year.

ConGRADulations Music + Media Gift from interlinc  
Less than $10, 21 songs, devotional book, and ‘personizable’ for your youth group. Help your message stay in your new graduate’s ears! Plus, you can pair it with a Bible for around $15.

Water bottles with church/youth group logo
College campuses get more and more into sustainability each year, and water bottles are a must have. Why not have it be yours?

Congregation Care Package
Have members of your congregation ‘adopt’ a graduating youth. Then they create a ‘care package’ and deliver it to the new graduate. Could include school supplies, coffee or shopping gift cards, home baked goodies, soap, shampoo – all those necessities!

Graduating Class Cross
Try to get a group price on matching crosses for all of your graduates for the year. Get crafty and paint names, nicknames, graduation year, etc on them. Keep one of the crosses with each graduate’s name on them in your youth space. Gift the other crosses to the graduates to bring to college, or their other new living space.

Monogrammed bath towel or flip flops
Stick with me on this one, a little weird of a thought at first – but showers after you’re not living at home any more don’t get cleaned that often. A good pair of flip flops and a towel they’ll use everyday will be great helps. Remember your baptism and be thankful!

Laundry bags
Doing laundry is a must, and a chore. Having a decent laundry bag to haul the dirties and turn them into cleanies will be an item in constant use. Think of just how awesome God is, that no matter how dirty something is it can be cleaned!

Photo Collage
Have a volunteer pour through old pictures and put together an old school collage of each graduating senior at various church events. This could even go back to childhood times if the photos exist! Leave a blank space to fill with ‘moments still to come’.

How about you? Have you gotten creative with your senior recognition gifts? Share your ideas in the comments.

GRAD: A youth leader’s story

Editor’s note: For years youth leaders have been honoring their graduates with ConGRADulations!  Many of you received ConGRADulations! as a student and are now giving it to your seniors.  Here’s the story of one such youth leader and YLO member – Nathan Ensz.

Nineteen-ninety-six.  Now that goes back a ways! It was the year “7th Heaven” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” was released.  “Home Improvement” and “Boy Meets World” were two of my favorite TV shows. Long hair for guys was in, and skinny jeans … what were those?! It was this year that also stands out to me because it was the year I graduated from high school.

I still remember my youth pastor calling the class of 1996 up on stage in front of our church family. We pretended to smile while he probably said some nice things about us.  Then I remember him giving us a graduation gift (this had not been done for previous senor classes). I was a bit surprised to find a cassette tape (yes, I said cassette) of Christian music compiled for the graduating class of 1996.  Little did I realize at that moment that I would keep that cassette for life (yep, still got it!). Christian music was a huge factor in my spiritual life and I’m so thankful for the artists and bands who have spoken truth into my life through music.

June 15, 2000 was my first day on the job as a new youth pastor.  On my desk was a stack of mail for me to sort through (oh how fun!).  As I began to trash most everything, I came across a renewal notice from interlinc. The youth pastor before me had been a subscriber. A check to interlinc was my first request I made from my youth budget to keep the good music coming! Little did I know, the cassette tape I received in 1996 as a graduation gift was put out by interlinc.  Since my first day in ministry I have given my teens the gift of God-honoring music. And that graduation gift I received from interlinc…yeah, I’m still giving that away too!

Thanks for sharing your story Nathan! Click here to learn about this years ConGRADulations! Music & Media Gift for seniors.

Patrick on TODAY Show

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My young friend, Patrick Ivison, graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago.

Big deal, right?

Well, yeah. It was a big deal! You see, Patrick was run over by a car when he was 14 months old, and was paralyzed from the neck down.  But God gave Patrick a “Can Do!” spirit, and he has not let his injury keep him for doing what a lot of San Diego kids do: surf, play sports, drive, and date girls. (He was also blessed with good looks, which helps in the dating girls part.)

So, when Patrick was a freshman, he was interviewed by the TODAY Show because of his surfing activities. (And a dog who sometimes surfs the board with him.) In that interview, on national television, Patrick made this aspirational statement: “I want to walk across the stage at my high school graduation.”

Holy cow!

His goal to walk across the stage at graduation kind of took everyone by surprise, and very few people actually thought that he had a chance to come back from such a devastating injury to even THINK about such a thing. So, he worked hard for the next four years. HARD. I’ve watched some of his “therapy” (I think “torture” would be a better word) sessions, and I can tell you that his effort makes me feel like a wuss.

My home church is also where Patrick’s family goes. That’s how I got to know him several years ago. But, he was never really involved in the ministry. I remember talking with him about Jesus a few times, and he was always polite and positive, but I never got the feeling that he was “in” – if you know what I mean. Then, a year ago, he came to a “Manly Man” night for the high school group – kind of a Lock-In for guys. He went home in the morning with rug burns, way too much pizza in his belly, and a new found relationship with Christ. A couple of months ago he was baptized.

We featured Patrick on this year’s ConGRADulations! DVD. His video generated a LOT of response – he tells me that he was hardly able to keep up with the emails from fellow seniors during the last part of the school year.

On Tuesday night, June 12th, I was sitting with his family in the arena when his name was called.

Holy cow!


He actually walked across the stage to receive his diploma! The entire arena erupted in a standing ovation, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Really. It was a monumentally-moving experience. (I actually just had to wipe tears out of my eyes to keep typing this post.)

The TODAY Show people were there from New York, with a bunch of cameras and mics. They shot the whole thing, and have spent two weeks editing it to present on television tomorrow morning.

So, set your DVR to record the TODAY Show tomorrow (Tuesday, June 26). I hope you’ll be encouraged, moved, and blessed!

Patrick did it!

Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos put it this way in his intro to the video of Patrick’s graduation:

“Of all the great moments of all the graduations this year, this one might be the most inspiring … ”

We couldn’t agree more. If you’ve seen or shared the ConGRADulations! gift this year, you know the amazing story of senior Patrick Ivison from San Diego, California. Paralyzed after an accident when he was just 14 months old, Patrick’s goal was to walk across the stage for his high school diploma.

Watch Patrick’s message to the Class of 2012 here

Tuesday night, Patrick made that goal a reality. We’ve been blessed to get to know Patrick this past year and to witness his perseverance and faith. Individually and as a staff, we’ve prayed for him and cheered as we heard of his progress towards his goal. interlinc Editor Ken McCoy attended Patrick’s graduation and we were watching every post and Facebook update to see the news … HE DID IT!

What an amazing young man. And what an amazing God! We can’t wait to hear what Patrick accomplishes next.

From all of us at interlinc … Congratulations Patrick! WOOHOO!!!!

It’s not too late to say ConGRADulations! Click here to order copies of this popular music + media + gift book for your seniors.