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If you’ve been in ministry for at least a year, you’ve experienced grade promotion. This is the reality of our eclectic world of youth ministry. Every year, our ministry gets a new group while also releasing a group. Grade transitions are unique yet oddly comforting.
Having a challenging grade can almost feel relieving as they transition out of your ministry, but when you have that special crew and see the spiritual fruit right before you, saying goodbye is heart-wrenching. Transitioning a new grade into your ministry and saying goodbye to another can feel like hitting a brick wall, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can start making the most of your next promotion season today. A step in the right direction is a step that’s developing momentum.
Invest in these 5 areas to make your grade promotion better than ever.
Research and know when the new class will be under your responsibility. This date will help to drive your urgency throughout the year. Once you have identified your entry point for your new group, develop a plan. If you’re aware of the date ahead of time, you can give yourself an onramp and set some healthy goals. This way, you’re not scrambling to figure out how to adapt to a changing ministry as it’s happening. Prevent hitting the brick wall by developing a strategic plan.
You can also prevent hitting the brick wall by creating unique moments. Show your new crew that you care about them while also using this as an opportunity to develop trust equity with parents. An event can make promotion season fun. But more than fun, push toward what you can do to make this time memorable and impactful. Families are transitioning at church, which means more than likely into a new school, new friends, and new structure in their household. As hard as you try, families could hit that brick wall because of everything going on in their world. Here’s your chance to develop an event or a unique moment to drive momentum through promotions.
In my setting, I oversee the middle school and high school teams. We know that if we’re going to make the most of promotion season, we need to work alongside other ministry teams for the incoming class. The middle school team works with the children’s ministry staff to develop plans, and we have already established our end goal for this year. We have planned a 6-8 month strategy for rising 6th graders, their parents, and small group leaders. Trust me, it didn’t start that way, but we feel promotions are so important that every year we take 1 step to work better as ministry teams. Prevent hitting the brick wall by working with other ministries.
It broke my heart when I had a former middle school student who struggled to figure out the inner workings of high school ministry. This student was one of the most connected 8th graders, but upon promoting into high school ministry, his journey was one of not knowing how to get connected. This taught me to focus on creating clear expectations on how to connect to the new ministry area. I had to take a hard look at the assumed areas of knowledge to bring clarity and understanding. Prevent hitting the brick wall by clarifying what your ministry does and how students/parents/leaders can get involved.
A certain level of energy should be put into your communication efforts during the promotion season. Develop a plan that conveys your ministry’s vision and the logistics for how it will happen. Students should see the fun and joy to be had along with a realistic depiction of what your ministry is and does. This is an opportunity to cultivate trust with parents entering your ministry. Prevent hitting the brick wall by communicating vision, direction, and logistics.
In youth ministry, our hope is that we don’t lose students in the changeovers between different ministries, which is why great promotions and transitions are vital. This new stage of life develops a new family rhythm as parents navigate a world of change as their kids enter middle or high school for the first time. Take the reins of this promotion season to keep these families from hitting a brick wall at church.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- What unique events/moments are you creating for students’ promotions?
- How are you connecting with parents in the midst of their student’s promotion season?