When I was a Children’s Pastor, there was one time of the year when the student pastor and I really worked together.
Usually, sometime in April, we’d get together for lunch and we’d talk about the rising 6th graders. We’d talk about how they would move up, when it would happen, and details pertaining to the big day. Unfortunately, this was often the extent of our collaboration. It would be years before I’d see the benefits of collaborating on a weekly basis. I would later come to learn that promoting NextGen is bigger than figuring out how to transition 5th graders to Middle School.
Two key advantages of the NextGen model is integrated strategy and comprehensive communication. When approaching promotion with a strategy for every age group combined with thoughtful communication – everyone wins. Let me explain.
Many churches are less than strategic about promotion. The student ministry opts to promote in May so that kids moving up into their ministry can experience the camps, mission trips and events that will help them assimilate into their new environments. Children’s ministry leaders prefer to promote in the fall with a desire to end with meaningful experiences before moving their kids out. For many kids (like new kindergarteners) who are promoting to a new and different environment, we like to take our time. All these reasons are perfectly valid, but this important transition becomes complicated and clunky when not approached strategically.
In most churches, communication is rarely coordinated. The student ministry communicates to parents of teenagers with email and social media updates pertaining to their upcoming promotion. The children’s ministry communicates to parents of kids with emails and postcards detailing their promotion. If a parent only has kids in one ministry, this works perfectly fine. If they have kids that span multiple ministries, everything falls apart. Parents won’t remember which instructions pertain to which kid and they’re likely to be confused and even frustrated.
Within the NextGen ministry model, one of our primary responsibilities is to serve families well. This means aligning strategy and coordinating communication. This may mean that one ministry compromises what they prefer for their age group to prioritize the entire family.
At MISSION, we’re currently in the middle of all of this. Last year, the student ministry promoted when school got out and kids promoted in the fall. It was confusing and chaotic. It was one of the first things I vowed to fix by the next year. We’re currently sending emails, distributing postcards and making social media updates. However, all communication points to missionaz.org/promo. This landing page on our website communicates everything a parent needs to know, regardless of their kid’s ages. We communicate what room/environment every child will promote to, emphasizing when their child is moving to an entirely new environment. Lastly, we provide basic information about every environment, specifically for parents who will be new to that area.
Promotion Sunday is a big deal. Too many kids get lost in transitions, so it’s important to get this particular Sunday right. Executing this well is the first step toward building a transition plan where kids stay engaged and connected along the way.