Transitions are extremely important to student ministry. If they aren’t done right, it is an easy place for students to get lost. On the flip side, if done right, it can help ensure they feel connected throughout their years in the ministry. Here are a few tips I have picked up over the years to help with transitions from children’s ministry to youth ministry.
It is easy to put off working on transitions until the last minute because they aren’t in “my ministry yet.” However, the earlier you start, the more beneficial it will be. When you start early, you can do a lot more to help with transitions, and it wont seem like it is really taking that much of your time. In fact, the best transition plan never stops. Make a goal of starting your transition plan as soon as the new students enter.
One of the things that you can start doing early is visiting their Sunday school classes. Just start by making it a quick stop-in and introducing yourself. This will help the students get familiar with you. Then, start teaching their class once a month. This is an easy way for them to get used to you and your teaching style before they start making the transition into your student ministry.
Learn their names
This might seem like an obvious one, but learning students’ names instead of calling them “buddy” or “dude” makes the interaction more personal and makes people more comfortable. If you are like me, then you feel like your brain is almost full and can’t hold any more names. Here are some tips to help you learn names. First, say the student’s name multiple times when the two of you are talking. Second, find something about them to which you can associate his or her name.
Be a VBS leader for 5th grade
This is an easy way to help students make the connection from Children’s ministry to Student ministry, and I think a lot of us (including me for many years of my ministry) miss this opportunity. Take time during your church’s VBS week and lead the 5th grade class. If you have multiple 5th grade classes, rotate every other day as a helper for the class. On the last day of VBS, do something special for the 5th grade students from the student ministry, like an ice cream party during VBS or in between one of the VBS rotations. They will be excited and remember that you did something special for them when it is time for them to transition into your student ministry.