Meaningful Gifts for Seniors

Annotated Bible

Every year around this time, I struggle with what to give our graduating seniors.

Early on in my career, I’d actually spend weeks agonizing over this. Indecisiveness would paralyze me until eventually, I’d give up and order a cheesy graduation gift from Oriental Trading.

I never liked giving these gifts and to be honest, I don’t think the seniors liked receiving them. Though well-intentioned, ultimately, they were impersonal. I imagine after a short stint in a prominent place, they ended up forgotten in a junk drawer.

Knowing this, in the last few years, I’ve worked hard to give seniors gifts that are meaningful. Meaningful gifts are ones that are both rooted in faith and personalized. The best ones also involve others.

To that end, this year we gave our seniors a very traditional gift: A Bible.

What distinguished this Bible from others they’d received is that we personalized it.

To be clear, we didn’t emboss the senior’s name on the leather cover of the Bible.

Instead, we involved others in the personalization.

A few days before we gave the seniors their Bibles, I put them in our church’s main office. I then invited teens and adults from our congregation, our church’s staff, and our youth ministry’s adult leaders to stop by and write a message in each senior’s Bible.

Since I didn’t want these Bibles to feel like yearbooks, I specifically asked people not to write their messages in the front of the Bible.

Here’s what I asked people to do instead:

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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