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Moving Up!

Have a program for transitioning preteens out of children’s ministry and into youth ministry. This program should begin approximately 3 months before the preteen will be moving into youth ministry and should focus on events and activities as a celebration of the child.

There are several things you can do in such a program:

1. Information Meetings

Send a letter to parents explaining the coming transition. Include a greeting from youth teachers or leaders along with contact information. Invite parents and children to attend an information meeting. Here are some ideas:

  • Theme the meeting. Choose a theme that describes the transition such as Building a Bridge, Movin’ Up, Taking the Challenge, etc.
  • Engage in interactive activities that involve preteens, parents, children and youth ministers. These activities will help everyone get to know one another. Maybe do a scavenger hunt with teams comprised of a preteen, a youth, a children’s worker, and a youth worker.
  • Let the youth pastor do a presentation introducing the youth ministry to the parents and kids. Let them explain the mission and vision of the youth ministry and introduce some of the staff.
  • Serve refreshments and encourage social time where kids and parents can meet and talk one-on-one with the youth pastor and staff.

2.  “Get Connected” Events

Several months prior to the actual transitioning date, plan weekly or monthly youth ministry events that include the transitioning preteens. These events are planned with the specific purpose of introducing the preteens to the youth and youth ministry. Plan activities at these events that will encourage relationship building between preteens and older youth. Here are some ideas:

  • Preteen Retreat – Invite transitioning preteens on an overnight retreat with youth ministry staff and several youth to include things such as ropes courses, canoeing or rafting, cooperative group games, etc. Include times of worship and prayer.
  • Game Nights
  • Laser Tag
  • Picnic in the Park
  • Youth Bonfire

3. Youth Guides

Ask youth leaders and teachers to make contact with transitioning preteens via phone calls, e-mails, regular mail, and personal meetings. Ask several youth with servants’ hearts to help with transitioning preteens. Assign a youth guide to each preteen.

The youth guide is responsible to help the preteen get acquainted and involved in the youth ministry. Provide each transitioning preteen with the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the youth and youth leaders and vice-versa.

4. Transition Timeline Example

Collaborate with your youth minister to develop the timeline for transition and share it with your pastor. Dale Hudson shares an example of a transition timeline in his article, Transition Time Tips.

12 weeks out

  • Transition connection in each room. During service, Leader(s) from each environment visit the kids who are preparing to transition into their environment. Leader(s) introduces him/herself and greets the kids.

9 weeks out

  • Transition connection in each room. During service, Leader(s) from each environment visit the kids who are preparing to transition into their environment. Leader(s)makes an announcement about transition and gets the kids excited about the move. 

6 weeks out

  • Transition connection in each room. During service, Leader(s) from each environment visit the kids who are preparing to transition into their environment. Leader(s) makes an announcement about transition and gets the kids excited about the move.
  • Put in Parent Take Home paper, Facebook, website, pre-service slides and other ways you communicate with parents. 

4 weeks out

  • Transition connection in each room. During service, Leader(s) from each environment visit the kids who are preparing to transition into their environment. Leader(s) makes an announcement about transition and leads part of the service like a game, song, etc.
  • Put in Parent Take Home paper, Facebook, website, pre-service slides and other ways you communicate with parents.
  • Begin inviting your pre-teens who are moving into Middle School Ministry and their parents to a special Celebration in their honor 

3 weeks out

  • Transition connection in each room. During service, Leader(s) from each environment visit the kids who are preparing to transition into their environment. Leader(s) makes an announcement about transition and leads part of the service like a game, song, etc.
  • Put in Parent Take Home paper, Facebook, website, bulletin, pre-service slides and other ways you communicate with parents. 

2 weeks out

  • Transition connection in each room. During service, Leader(s) from each environment visit the kids who are preparing to transition into their environment. Leader(s) makes an announcement about transition and teaches the lesson.
  • Have an open house after the service and invite parents to check out their child’s new environment.
  • Put in Parent Take Home paper, Facebook, website, bulletin, and other ways you communicate with parents.

1 week out

  • Kids go and visit their new environments during service for a few minutes.
  • Have an open house after the service and invite parents to check out their child’s new environment.
  • Put in Parent Take Home paper, Facebook, website, bulletin, pre-service slides and other ways you communicate with parents.
  • Have a special Celebration for your pre-teens who are moving into Middle School Ministry. Make it a family event and invite their parents to join them. Here are some ideas…
    • Memory video or slide show from their time in Children’s Ministry.
    • Worship
    • Introduce Middle School staff and volunteers. Have them give a brief overview of Middle School Ministry and cast vision.
    • A talk by the Children’s Pastor/Director.
    • Testimonies and blessings from some of the volunteers.
    • Testimonies by some of the pre-teens.
    • Parental blessing spoken over children by their parents.
    • Prayer of blessing over children by Children’s Pastor/Director.
    • Gift given to each pre-teen.
    • Time of food and fellowship afterward in Middle School area. MS Staff and leaders are available to meet kids/parents and answer questions. 

Week of

  • Send communication piece to parents with classroom details. Include age breakdowns, classroom names (regular mail, email, Facebook, texting, Twitter, etc.)

Remember to communicate with the youth minister, parent, and preteen on several occasions once the child has transitioned just to see how the child is acclimating themselves to the youth ministry environment and to offer help as needed.

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