6 Pointers To Get Your Ministry Promotion Week Right

By Youth Specialties on April 01 2014

A well thought-out transition plan for students from children’s or junior high ministry into junior high or high school ministry is crucial for your program’s health. The time for that transition can sneak up on us and sometimes we miss a key opportunity to get those students plugged in from the very beginning. Below are some key initiatives that have helped me get promotion week right—and I think they can help you too. 

1. Start early.

I’ve experienced both years where I have done this right and years where I have let this slide. This year, I’m trying to get an earlier start than usual to make sure that the students coming into my junior high and high school ministries know who and what they’re walking into before they ever set foot in our building.

2. Make a visit (or two).

Take 10 minutes on a Sunday or Wednesday and walk over to your children’s or junior high ministry to meet some of the students who will be transitioning into your program. I try to do this once or twice in the months leading up to “Promotion Sunday.” It helps me to start to get to know the students and allows my face to become familiar to them. Sometimes I even invite a current student or two of mine to come with me.

3. Plan a “get to know you” event.

Our children’s director and I are planning a bowling night next month for fifth graders. I’m going to bring some of our core students and volunteers along with me to get to know the students. We hope to do this at least two times before Promotion Sunday.

4. Guest teach, host, or run a game.

Obviously, there are a lot of different models of ministries around the country so this may look different at your church, but see if you can get some “stage” time in the ministry your students transition from to let the students see you in action. Do a guest talk, host a panel of your students talking about what the next program is like, or run an ice-breaking game.

5. Host a parent meeting.

Hosting an informational parent meeting a few weeks before the transition can ease a parent’s worries and answer a lot of questions they may have about you and your ministry. Tell them what you do, how you do it, and why you do it the way you do it. Leave time for questions and make sure you stick around to shake hands afterwards. Heck, maybe even throw in a summer camp promotion somewhere in there!

6. Take their pictures.

For years now, I’ve set a photo booth up for new students who come into the ministries I work in (a trick I learned from the great Scott Rubin). We make it look like a mug shot because it’s silly and ironic, but the idea behind it all is so that I can make flash cards for my staff and I to remember students’ names. I set up a booth so that it feels less creepy for new students walking in. Sometimes I even let volunteer students take the pictures so there’s not some weird adult that they barely know taking pictures of them. It works really well because it helps me connect with students immediately and gives me the resource I need to build relationships later.


Getting this transition right is so important for our ministries. We all remember what it felt like to walk into something new when we were that age, so let’s try to ease that awkwardness the best we can. Then our students will feel like they belong before they even walk in our doors.

Do you have any tried and true tips for making such a big transition easier for students? Share them with us!

Wes Wilson is the director of student ministries at Willow Creek Community Church's DuPage Campus. He's also the creator of “Games: Video Edition.” Check it out here. Follow him at @wesmwilson.


Picture of Gila Manolson

From Gila Manolson on April 05, 2014


I want to make you aware of a new book called Hands Off! This May Be Love: God’s Gift for Establishing Enduring Relationships. This frank and eye-opening book presents a practical case for refraining from physical involvement before marriage in order to build a deep, spiritual bond with the right person. Hands Off! This May Be Love is thought-provoking, entertaining, and down-to-earth, and will be indispensable to anyone promoting sexual purity.

Testimonials appear below.

For more about Hands Off! This May Be Love, click on the following link:


Or for additional videos and radio interviews with the author, go to: 



Hands Off Cover final

Is there a way to dramatically reduce heartache?

Can behavior before marriage make success in marriage more likely?

Are we shortchanging ourselves by settling for today’s culture?

Can anyone who cares about others not read this book – either for themselves or someone they love?

Hands Off! This May Be Love: God’s Gift for Establishing Enduring Relationships, by Gila Manolson, is written from the heart and goes to the heart of readers. After decades of speaking with and to young (and not so young) people, Gila reveals scientific and psychological evidence about the power of physical touch and how prematurely introducing that power into a relationship can sabotage true and lasting love.

This enjoyable book, full of anecdotes, provides surprising and thought-provoking ideas and also offers encouragement for doing what is both right and effective rather than what is popular. It is difficult to think of anyone who doesn’t need to read this book, whether to better their own life or the life of someone they love.

“Filled with ancient wisdom and modern humor, this groundbreaking book provides insights into succeeding at love that have never been heard. Those who are smart enough to take the author’s sound advice to heart will surely reap many rewards. For this book, young people and their parents owe the author an enormous debt.” —-  Miriam Grossman, MD – Author of Unprotected and You’re Teaching My Child WHAT?

“Gila Manolson’s book, Hand’s Off! This May Be Love, is one of the best and most needed books we’ve read in a long time. It should be required reading in high schools! She eloquently describes the importance of not only honoring and respecting the opposite sex but also honoring and respecting yourself enough to wait before you build those powerful connections brought through touch. These truths can be utilized in every relationship including the workplace. I highly recommend this book for youth leaders in Churches.Thanks for a marvelous read!” —-  Pastors Mark and Vicki Biltz, Tacoma, WA

“This book is important, bold, and to some, even controversial. The principles presented are sound and hold the potential to turn the cultural tide. They address one of the greatest needs in our time and present a worthy challenge to the current generation. The future is literally in the balance teetering between moral depravity and purity. Read this book and share it with someone who needs to hear its truth.” —-  Pastors Mike and Kathy Hayes – Covenant Church, Dallas, TX


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