By Joel Larison

I recently saw Christopher Nolan’s last installment of the Dark Knight Trilogy, Dark Knight Rises.  The movie was all that I wanted it to be. Suspenseful. Frightening. Stylistically action-packed. Heart wrenching.

Director Christopher Nolan had a decision to make as he closed out his epic trilogy–how would he wrap it up? Batman’s death? Gotham’s demise? Or leave the door open on Batman’s crime fighting ways for many more sequels to ensure millions of dollars for decades to come?

We as student pastors, communicators and small group leaders must begin to figure out how to resolve the story of God for our graduating seniors (12th graders).

Over the past 2 years in our High School Ministry, we have been teaching our students how to understand and apply the Bible (both Old and New Testament) as one grand, overarching, daring story of the Creator God. The aim is to pull all students into the story of God and invite them not only to join but to participate.  

Last week, I was sitting in a room with 12 graduated seniors that I led in a sort of “send off” small group gathering.  Some of the guys had been in my small group for 4 years and some of them were new Christians who had just started following Jesus during their senior year.

I asked them to go around the room and share with everyone what they wanted to concentrate in while at college.

The first student in the circle stated that he wanted to be a student pastor.

The other students started to look at the ground–dismayed, almost like they are embarrassed by their “less than spiritual” career choices of civil engineering, law enforcement, sports psychology, business management, etc.

At this defining moment, as a student pastor, I realized that I had not ignited my students’ imagination for their part in God’s story. Somewhere along the way, my students bought into the idea that you have to work inside the church building in order to do something significant for God.

Unfortunately, I had to face the reality that I had not done a good job of giving my students permission to dream about how their passions for engineering, justice, sports, and leadership were hard-wired by God and for God to play a role in God’s story of restoration.

I went around the room looking every young man in the eye, speaking the truth to them that everything in this world outside of sin can be done for the glory of God and for His fame.

Civil engineers can design highways in African countries where medications are difficult to transport on rocky dirt roads.

Sports Psychologists can provide a safe, honest environment to their patients and speak truth to substance abuse, eating disorders, and depression.

Business managers can be an example of Jesus’ mercy, kindness, generosity, creativity, and humility to employees daily.

As we lead our students through the formative years of high school, I encourage you to often give them the imagination and creative permission to dream up how they can match their passions to joining God’s restoration story.

And just like Christopher Nolan masterfully resolved his Dark Knight trilogy, our students  will find that their journey of following Jesus only resolves when they accept His invitation to live for Him wherever their career choices take them.


Brief Bio:

Joel is Creative Arts/Student Staff at Oakbrook Church in the mid-sized town of Kokomo, Indiana.  He and his wife of 3 years, Meghan are currently raising their Goldendoodle Lainey (1 year).  Joel is exclusively fueled by Starbucks’ Pike Place Roast.



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