Reflections On The Senior Sneak and Ode to the Class of 2011

Each year we go on a “Senior Sneak” where we break the bottle of perfume and show extravagant love to those graduating seniors who were an active part of our group. Over the years, we have found this impracticality to be an appropriate demonstration of our love for them. Every year there is some form of deception (Rahab-esque deception, not Ananaias & Saphira type, you see?). One year, I created a false itinerary, another year I created a packing list with items they wouldn’t need, and one year, we just hid the info from them (they weren’t that bright of a class ;)

This year, we told them the Sneak was cancelled by the trustees because of budgetary concerns, then because we felt “so bad”, we “scheduled” a much lamer lunch after church. But of course, the Sneak was never really cancelled. With the help of their parents, we took them to Boston to see Owl City and enjoy the town.

Every year there is some type of theme. This year’s was “Say Good-bye to High School”. Which explains Owl City. Most of our students loved Fireflies … in 10th grade. But Owl City works well for us. Adam Young professes to be a believer, he creates fun music and he’s not trapped in the Christian sub-culture. The new album was just released last week and I’ve always wanted to take the group to Boston.

I won’t bore you with how the theme worked in and out of our time but we did the typical Boston thing: We spit at Fenway, walked around late at night, did the Freedom Walk Tour, saw the Harbor, ate at Quincy Market and finished our time at the Boston Commons. It was our last stop that was by far the most special. We sat in a circle each person had something said about them by everyone in the group. I allotted an hour and half for this – between the tears, the hugs, and the heartfelt words, it took us a little over 3 hours. It was needed closure. Not only did some things need to be said, it was probably the last time we’d have this opportunity together. It was beautiful and I’ll never forget it.

The best Sneaks are with classes that not only never gave up on our youth group community but sincerely tried to follow Jesus together. And the class of 2011 is special. I told them during the graduation portion of the worship service that in my 11 years of ministry, they were in my Top 10. But the truth is, they are a unique class. They were a big class filled with strong personality types, many very gifted in the arts and they really had bought into what we were trying to do as a ministry (it wasn’t always easy but they hung in there).

I also feel that God used this class to bring out the best from us as youth leaders. They were sharp, servant-hearted (though extremely busy) and always wanting to dive deeper. They read Don Miller, Scot McKnight and a good few had read Gabe Lyon’s Next Christians (a gift from this year’s Winter Retreat). How cool was it that on the Monday of the sneak, USA Today had a feature entitled “Can Cause of Social Justice Tame Our Culture Wars?”. (Not sure if we thought that was God providentially winking at us or maybe USA Today always runs stuff like that).

They are also special to me because of where they fit in my own life. Many of them were in the room when I announced publicly for the first time that we adopted Nathan. They were among the first to hear that Susan was pregnant with Dylan. And then again, that we are having a baby girl this September. In lesser of life importance but still very cool moments, we watched the Giants win the Super Bowl together and we cancelled Sr. High Youth group to watch the Yankees beat the Phillies in ’09 (we just knew it would happen in Game 6). We served on mission trips to New Orleans, an AIDS Camp in the Bahamas and picked up trash together and various other things. Looking back on it, I’m moved by how much we did together over the years.

I told them that I don’t know who I am going to argue with now. The Class of 2012 is much smarter, much more polite, and they already agree with me ;). But truly was an honor to be their youth pastor during their high school years. While we will always be brothers and sisters in God’s family, things will be different from this point on but these are the days I am extremely grateful for Facebook (because you don’t really have to say good-bye, just “See you around”) and these are the days I feel blessed to be a youth pastor.

God’s grace to the Class of 2011 and don’t forget Mark 12:29-31!


  1. Tim – this was gorgeous. Thank you for your work, and may God bless you for sharing it with others (like me) in our field and using it to encourage us. What a beautiful picture of why we do what we do and the bright reminder that our own lives are touched and enriched as well (I always think of 1 Thess. 2:8 here).
    grace and peace

  2. Thanks brother – really appreciate that.

  3. Tiffany says:

    I love this post. It made me cry. I love those “kids” and miss them! Oh yeah, and I miss you and Susan too :)

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