This is a season of transitions in our ministry. In just a couple of weeks the 6th-graders will be moving into our junior high ministry, our new freshman will be entering high school, and our just-graduated seniors will be moving up into the college-level program. It’s a bittersweet time of excitement for the new, mixed with the loss of incredible students who are no longer formally in your care.
Today we hope to provide you with a few keys to make the transitions smooth in your church. As we learned yesterday, the youth ministry “handoff” can be a time when students fail to make the move up in one of their life’s most challenging times. Here are some thoughts to make them go well.
Work in harmony with the other areas of ministry.
If you work in junior high ministry, you should be in relationship with the children’s ministry leaders. If you’re the new college pastor, one of your first steps should be to develop a relationship with the youth workers who care for your high school students. Know their programs, their wins and losses, and reach down to grab students to pull them up.
Prepare your students for what is ahead.
As recently as this past year we had a few graduating seniors that LOVED our youth ministry but had never been to “big church” before. We love that they loved us, but it was sad that they only really knew youth group and had not become part of the whole church. Some of those conversations became the genesis of the Worship Together Weekends we’ve talked about so much in the past. (If you don’t know what WTW is, click here for more details.)
Create spaces for questions.
Another simple win is to invite the leaders of the ministry ahead of yours for an informal “Q/A” with your current students about the ministry they are about to join. This will ease the nerves and help them feel relieved and loved before they move up. Or consider creating a “preview” night where students can sit in on a full service and get an idea of what it is like when promotion weekend finally does come along.
Celebrate every step of the way.
One of the things I’m (Josh) most excited about next week is our senior Life Group dinners. We’re going to host our small group leaders and their seniors for a special hour-long program to cheer them on beyond high school. Our leaders are incredible so there are going to be some tears, but most of all lots of rejoicing that students have made it and are prepared for what is next.
How do you help ease the transition between grades and programs in your ministry?
This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.