Holy Ground Moments

Photo by Jordan McQueen

Today's guest blogger is Jason Herman, High School Student Minister at The Hills Church of Christ in Richland Texas.  Jason was part of the 2010 Sticky Faith Cohort.

It’s difficult to find words that accurately describe the significance of what occurred in our 6th and 9th grade blessing ceremonies this past Sunday. 

It was one of those moments when you realize that allowing space for this type of experience truly matters.  On paper, the blessing doesn’t look like much.  It’s simply a welcome followed by a charge from one of our shepherds (elders), three questions, and a closing prayer.  What makes this a critical transition piece of the Sticky Faith puzzle, however, is the presence of caring adults.

In January, we send letters to students asking them to invite their parents and 5 other influential adults to take part in this special rite of passage (students whose parents do not attend are adopted by other families or elders).  The adults are asked to discuss three questions with their student during our blessing ceremony.  The questions are simply:

  • Discuss highlights and difficulties of this school year
  • Blessing:  Share Godly qualities that you see in your teen
  • Our prayer and hope for this student as they go through junior high/high school is….

At the blessing ceremony, the adults and students formed circles, in which the adults shared their responses to these questions out loud with the student. The student gets to respond to the first question, then receives the adults’ blessing and prayer for the remainder of the ceremony.  You can imagine the conversations that took place and the power of those discussions.  To witness both the depth of the moment and the tears coming from young and old alike was truly a “holy ground moment” (moments in student ministry we get to witness, and yet are so sacred it feels as though we shouldn’t be in the room).

Having been in the room, however, I can tell you this, we must not overlook the important role transitionsplay in Sticky Faith development.  The 6th and 9th grade blessing, along with our promotion ceremony at the beginning of the year, serve as two critical transition rites for those entering our middle school and high school ministries. 

One last thing: we intentionally plan this blessing after the first semester of the 6th and 9th grade year.  What are your thoughts about the significance of pausing mid-year for such a blessing?