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How To Prepare Kids and Students for Their Next Grade in Your Ministry With A Promotion Strategy

Upgrade. Moving on Up. Level Up. Promotion Sunday… 

Whatever cool name you call it, this is a day that kids and students officially transition to the next age or grade in your Kids or Student Ministry. However, if we treat this as just a one-day event, then that is all it will be, and any impact will fade very quickly. In fact, this can be a milestone moment in time for kids and families. So, how can you plan for long-term impact during this time of year? When should you plan for it, and what should it look like? 

Here are 4 big questions to wrestle with that will hopefully prompt you to think strategically for your ministry context. (Probably more, but we will focus on these four.) 

(Caveat: Below, you might find more questions than answers. That’s intentional. Good questions can always help lead us to the best answers. Also, for this particular topic, almost every ministry context is different, so use the questions and challenges to help you and your team think strategically.)

What is your purpose for promotion?

In other words, what do you hope to accomplish when promoting kids and students? What is your why? Hopefully, you are thinking strategically about your desired outcomes. Is this just a boost in attendance for one day, or will you use this time as a launching pad for new groups? Consider big milestones to celebrate, such as graduating seniors, new kindergarteners, or new middle schoolers. How can you leverage these moments for big, lasting impact? 

When is the best time of year to promote kids and students?

Knowing your purpose will lead you toward the best time of the year. Do you promote before summer? At the beginning of a new school year? Or a combination of both? Some kids, such as rising 6th graders, may benefit from promotion at the end of the school year to get integrated into the Student Ministry, while others may benefit from the kickoff of a new school year. Either way, be strategic and think of this as more of a timeframe in their life. Think about what might be best for them at their age or grade, instead of what might be easiest or convenient. There is no right or wrong time, as long as you are strategic.

How are you partnering with parents in this transition?

While these are important moments for kids and students, don’t forget about the parents. This is also a transition for them. Their kids are growing up faster than they can keep up. This is a primary time to help parents navigate, not only the transition for the kids but also what they and their kids will face over the next year. How are you communicating with parents, and how often? How are you equipping them for strategic conversations? What resources can you point them towards? Don’t be afraid to ask many parents at different phases how they are feeling or what they need.

It’s not enough just to think about what might be next for kids/students at your church but think about preparing parents for what might be next in this next phase of life in general. The Phase Project has some incredible parent resources, like phase guides, conversation guides, and training material that help equip parents (and leaders).

Do everything you can to help, equip, and be present for them. This is a prime time to grab their attention. Let them know they are not alone.

How are you setting up leaders to win during this transition?

One of the greatest things you can give families during transition (or any time of year) is a consistent leader and a place to belong. So, to set your leaders up to win, they must also be equipped for what’s next. Can you offer phase-specific training or resources? How are you communicating with leaders? Have you hit recruiting hard to have enough leaders with actual small groups? Do everything you can to inspire your leaders. Give them a vision and strategy, with testimonies, so they can see themselves making an impact.

How do you start building your promotion strategy?

To help you and your church navigate and plan promotion, we have two incredible resources:

First, if your church uses Orange Curriculum, then you have an experienced ministry coach assigned just for you called an Orange Specialist (OS).  An OS can use their own family ministry experience to partner with and coach you, not only on customizing your Orange Curriculum, but also on casting vision, evaluating systems and strategies for kids, students, parents, and volunteers, leading up to senior leadership, and everything in between. And yes, even promoting kids and students to what is next. So, be sure to contact your OS and schedule a chat. If you aren’t sure who your OS is, then go here to find out.

Finally, we’ve put together what we call the NEXT Promotion Kit, which is designed to let parents and caregivers know you’re ready for their kid’s next—even if they’re not sure they are ready. This kit will help you brand your promotion week messaging, equipping you with resources and encouragement for families. It includes a social media plan with story images, printable posters, postcards, digital ads, slides, email headers, and more.

At Orange, we often talk about strategy as a plan of action with an end in mind, which takes us back to the first question above. As you think about your promotion strategy, we want to encourage you always to go back to your why. Always think strategically about kids, students, parents, and leaders. Be intentional about every piece of your promotion strategy, and then evaluate for next year. Because, in the end, we all want to put kids and students in the best position possible to grow in an everyday faith of their own. And your promotion strategy can be a catalyst for that to take place. 

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