I've been on staff at three churches in my professional career. So I've seen graduation weekends done a few different ways.
Here at Trinity, they've been doing the same thing since I graduated high school. But, this year, we decided to switch things up a little bit. Here's what we did:
In the past, our main way of honoring grads (both high school and college) was to do a special presentation in our Sunday morning service. This basically consisted of having the grads (dressed in their caps and gowns) proceed down the center aisle to pomp & circumstance. Then, one by one, calling their names and having them come on the stage to be presented with a gift (usually a Bible). This was followed by a special lunch that we asked only be attended by immediate family (for cost purposes). We did the lunch fancy with servers and expensive place settings and such. We even had incredible food thanks to some very talented volunteers.
But, to be honest, the lunch was a lot of work. And on top of that, having to ask people to only bring immediate family, when extended family would attend the preceding service, was never received well.
So we ditched that.
Here's what we're doing this year. It was very important to us that, whatever we changed, we made sure that graduating students felt honored and appreciated. We also knew that we wanted to give special attention to them. This, coupled with our senior pastor's desire to spend time with our grads led us to a great idea. We're taking all of our college grads out to eat Friday night, and all of our High School grads out to eat on Saturday night. And our senior pastor and his wife are coming too!
The Sunday morning service thing will remain in place, but we're adding something else in too. Before the service, we're going to host a breakfast that students can bring any family to. Any.
Now, I will say this: The dinners (at least the way that we're doing them) won't work for everyone. We've got about 16 HS grads and only 3 college. So, if you've got a large ministry, this won't be cost effective. But you could probably host one at your church for just students.
This is an event that we could definitely grow in! I'd love to hear how you honor your grads!