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Hopefully at this point in the year, you’ve already done something to communicate with Parents of students who will soon be moving from your church’s elementary ministry to your youth ministry. For many of in our community, we’ve got a hand in both ministries, so it feels like the transition might be negligible. But if you’ve had kids of your own make this transition, you’ve probably seen that no matter what, this is a HUGE deal.
One of the easiest things you can do right now, this week, to improve your future ministry, and enhance your current ministry, is to be intentional to reach out to Parents of incoming students.
They’ve got questions, and concerns, and may not know how approachable you are, or even who you are, and something that is especially true of Middle Schoolers and their Parents is that the level of buy-in to student ministry a 6th grader has is going to be shaped by the level of buy-in their Parents have, far more then when it comes to a 10th or 12th grader.
How that looks and plays out can vary from youth pastor to youth pastor, but here are a few simple ideas.
We’ve got a great resource of several scripts to help you get started. They center around transitions, and are a great tool for not just incoming elementary students, but also 8th graders about to move up to High School, and 12th graders who are graduating. Calling Parents, for even just a few minutes, helps them see you care, connect with you and your ministry, and builds trust. You want to ask questions and listen more than anything, but have some action point to invite them to or share with them. It’s an easy, strategic way to help you increase your level of involvement with families and partner with parents, and will make a difference in your ministry.
We’ve put together little baskets with a youth group t-shirt, cafe dollars, and welcome letter and dropped them off at each incoming 6th graders house before, letting them know how excited we are for them to be joining us. You can grab our welcome letters to edit and use for your ministry, and get started welcoming new students.
You’ve hopefully got a list of students from your elementary leader, and you’ve hopefully met these students before. It’s always a great idea to have a preview night or two for those students who will be moving up, and from that, your small group leaders should recognize them. If not, do what you can to help your current middle school small group leaders seek out and find students moving up and give them a personal invitation to youth group, or an upcoming event that would be a great first time. It doesn’t have to use a special, fancy card, but they a personal invitation from someone other than you is going to go a long way. If you have calendars or rack cards, even if they would have already gotten one in idea 2, have your small group leaders hand those out, as well.
Another thing that goes a long way but may be tougher to do, os get everyone in the same space for a bit during summer. One of the best things we did a few years back was schedule 2 bbq’s in the summer where we invited all the families of incoming 6th graders, and a few families of older students, to come to our house for a laid back evening. We were fortunate enough to have a large backyard with a pool, so kids could swim and hang out, and parents could mingle. We didn’t have a set “meeting” time or agenda, but we did express at the beginning that our hoped for outcome from the night would be parents would connect with each other and feel like they gained a few allies for the battle of raising teenagers. The second time we gathered that summer, we were more intentional with having parents share how much our youth ministry had been a resource, the value of their students small group leaders, and the impact of some of our bigger events. If you can do a few nights like this, make them happen, because it was huge in seeing instant buy in with many of our new families.
Looking for help? Check out the guest central tools pack for great tools to help you welcome new students.