Transition Ideas For Students

smart-304883-unsplashAround this time of year a few transitions happen within our student ministry: 5th graders move into the middle school ministry, 8th graders move out of the middle school ministry and into the high school ministry, and seniors transition out of the high school ministry. These transitions really start during the last few weeks of the school year and continue throughout the summer months. By the time the next school year starts everyone is in (or out of) the appropriate ministry.

Transitioning students into, out of, and even within your student ministry is not an easy task. However, over the past few years our student ministry team has gained some great experience in this area and have crafted a pretty good plan for transitioning students. We aren’t perfect by any means and some of the stuff we do isn’t even original with us but has been adopted from other ministries we respect.

I want to share with you three ideas you can steal from us to implement within your transition process. Tweak these ideas to best fit your context and see if they help you shepherd your students through these transitions.

Sixth Graders Into the Middle School Ministry
A few years back one of our children’s ministry staff members came up with the idea of having a breakfast for the current 5th graders where the children’s ministry team can officially “send them off” as well as have those students meet the student ministry staff. We tried it and it went great. Each year around this time we have meet with all the current 5th graders to introduce our student ministry team as well as share with them what to expect in our middle school ministry. We show them pictures, videos, and even play some of the most popular games from our ministry. We also give them some free stuff as well as some resources help them (and their parents) connect with our middle school ministry and keep up with what’s happening. This year we are doing all this as well as having a cereal bar that morning. We do all of this within the kids worship services on Sunday mornings so parents are not having to bring their kids to another event during the week.

Eight Graders Into the High School Ministry
Transitioning our 8th graders into our high school ministry is the hardest transition we have. For us, our middle school and high school ministries are very different as far as atmosphere and programming (example – no musical worship in middle school but in high school we have a full band that leads worship each week). Many students have a hard time with this change and we are always looking for ways to do better. Also, a lot of students just get more busy in high school so we don’t see them stick around or at least show up consistently. However, we do our best to celebrate them as they leave our middle school ministry and encourage them to make the transition to our high school ministry. We do this with an event called Edguation. This is one of the things we have adopted from another church that we use to be a campus of. Edge is the name of our middle school ministry so “Edguation” is like our 8th grade graduation. It’s a special night during our normal program where we honor our 8th graders, give them free stuff (ESV compact Bible and high school ministry t-shirt), craft a talk to challenge them (click here to see how we did it this year with a panel of high schoolers), and have some of our high school students there to meet them. One of my favorite parts of this night is when we send all the 8th graders out of the room (our way of sending them out of the middle school ministry) and into the atrium where they are greeted by screams, high-fives, claps, and more from our high schoolers (click here to see a video). After this happens the 8th graders go into another room where they have some cake and spend time talking to the high schoolers. It’s always a great night.

Seniors Out of the High School Ministry
It’s always bittersweet when our seniors graduate out of our ministry. However, we do our best to celebrate with them. One of the ways we do this is by doing a senior night within our normal program. We usually do it within the last few weeks of the school year and it’s a night where we honor our seniors, give them some free stuff (costum ministry alumni t-shirt), and challenge them from God’s Word. In addition to all this we also do a senior video where we have them answer some questions and share advice for underclassmen (click here to see the video from this past senior class).

Transitions are not easy but doing them well is so important to the health of your student ministry as well as for the ongoing discipleship of your students. Above are just a few things we do that you can use in your ministry as well.

 

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Ways to Use Social Media In Your Ministry

d_kow7ihnnw-saulo-mohanaSocial media is a vital part of doing ministry in our world. A ministry that isn’t leveraging social media is missing, in my opinion, one of the most effective ways of communicating with people in our culture. Everyone seems to be using at least one social media network and most people are using multiple ones. So how can we in ministry take advantage of this?

I want to suggest a few simple ways you can use social media in your ministry. Some of these suggestions are things we are currently doing in our ministry while some of them are things we are not doing but other ministries are.

Event Promotion. This is by far the easiest and most popular way ministries are using social media. However, this can be overdone. People want to see more than event promos on your social media accounts. More than likely if all they see is promos for your next event they may stop looking at your account all together or glance over it in the future. So promote your events but do so wisely.

Event Pictures. It’s easy to post promo stuff about your event but it’s another thing to intentionally get good photos from your events to post. People both at the event and not at the event will enjoy seeing pictures. This is also a great way to show people on the outside what your ministry looks like. Be sure to capture good photos. Have someone who is gifted in this area take photos at your events and post them on your social media accounts.

Sermon Quotes. This is a creative way many churches are using social media. It’s also a great way to get the sermon out of the pulpit and into the minds of people throughout the week. Take quotes from the sermon and post them throughout the week. This allows people to be reminded of what they heard but also share God’s Word with other people via social media.

Worship Set. This is another creative thing many churches are doing. Simply post the songs your worship band did on social media. This is a great way to communicate the songs you sang with your people since many of them may love the songs you sing but not know the title. I’d encourage you to search #worshipset and #sundaysetlist on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to see some examples of churches doing this kind of thing.

Highlight Volunteers. Volunteers are vital to any ministry. We should always be looking for creative ways to brag on them and a way to say “thank you.” Social media is a great place to do just that. It allows us to publicly thank them and brag on them for a bit. Some churches do a “Volunteer of the Week” type thing. They pick a volunteer every week that serves in their ministry and they post a picture and some thoughts about them. They usually highlight where they serve in their ministry and then give them a public “thank you” for all to see. One of the churches that is doing this very well on a weekly basis is Collide Church. Jump over to their Instagram page to see their “Volunteer of the Week” posts.

These are just a few simple ways you can use social media in your ministry. Be creative and be looking for ways to leverage the power of social media for your ministry.

Suggested Books: Going Social by Terrace Crawford and Social Media Guide for Ministry by Nils Smith (both of these books are a few years old so they may be outdated in some areas in regards to social media).

3 Ways to Use Student Leaders in Your Ministry

12771549_10209197367077562_8672662913260402396_oAn important aspect of student ministry is student leadership. Every student ministry needs student leaders. When students begin to lead and take ownership within their student ministry amazing things happen. It’s important we give students leadership opportunities instead of just making our staff and volunteers do everything.

But how do we use student leaders in our student ministry? There are countless ways to do this and it will look different in every student ministry. However, there are three key ways we have used student leaders in our ministry that I think can be translated to almost any other student ministry.

Planning. One of the worst things we can do is plan events for students without actually getting any input from students. If we want to have an event that connects well with students we need to know what they want and don’t want. We need to discover what things are popular in their world and what would reach other students in their context. For the past two years we have been using our student leaders in our planning process for events and retreats. It’s been a game changer. Our events and retreats have gotten much better because of this. Don’t be afraid to ask student leaders for their ideas and input. Also, don’t be afraid to give your student leaders ownership over an entire event. We have done this and are planning to do it even more in the future.

Interacting with new students. Our hope should be that all our students are welcoming and interacting with new students when they come into our ministry. We can’t expect every student to do that. However, we can expect our student leaders to do it. When student leaders join the team they should be reminded that they will be held to a higher standard and will be asked to lead in various ways. So one of the things we require all our student leaders to do is to be on the lookout for new students when they walk in. If they see one, they are to go talk to them and hangout with them throughout the night. The phrase we communicate over and over to our student leaders is this – “No student left behind.” We want every student to feel welcomed and to feel like they belong. We don’t want them left alone in any way. This will require a lot of coaching on your part. You may have to remind your student leaders of this every week. But it’s worth it. Students interacting with new students and making them feel comfortable and welcomed is huge!

Teaching. Yes, I said teaching. Don’t be afraid to step aside and let your student leaders do some teaching. This will require you to do a lot of coaching but it is worth it. Walk your student leaders through how they can plan and teach a lesson or a whole series. Give them time to then do that together. Once they are ready give them the stage. Have them teach for a night or a few nights. Students teaching God’s Word to other students is an awesome thing. This may sound risky to some but it’s a risk that’s worth taking. It will help your student leaders grow in their knowledge of the Bible as well as how they can communicate it to others. One of the highlights of this year has been watching our student leaders plan and teach an entire series.

These are just three ways we use our student leaders in our ministry. I’d encourage you to try these three things with your student leaders. Also, don’t just settle for these three. Be creative and find your own ways to use your student leaders.

Games We Played Last Month

Spring_Watercolors_01It’s a new month so that means it’s time to look back at the games we played last month in our student ministry. As you will see, many of our games come from Download Youth Ministry so do yourself a favor and save some time by using the awesome games on their site. Be sure to click the game titles to download the game content or graphic.

Puking Rainbows or Not
How it Works: Students love the feature on Snapchat that allows them to take pictures of themselves (or their friends) puking rainbows. You can also puke other things on Snapchat as well. In this game, a picture will be shown and your students (you can play it as a stage game with a few contestants or as a crowd game where everyone plays) must if the next picture will have them puking rainbows or something else.
Supplies: Game content from DYM (click game title to download)

Whip and Fish
How it Works: This is a simple game that is fun for the contestants playing on stage as well as the crowd that is watching. Each contestant gets a plate full of Whip Cream. Buried in that Whip Cream is ten Swedish Fish that the contestants must get out without using their hands. They can only use their mouths. First contestant to get all ten Swedish Fish out wins.
Supplies: Whip Cream and Swedish Fish

Poop Deck
How it Works: This is a classic game that is always a hit. Divide the room up into three parts: low deck, mid deck, and poop deck. Everyone starts in one of the decks and must run to whatever deck the game leader calls out. Last person into that deck is out. You continue until there is one person left. You can also throw in “man overboard,” which means everyone must go touch a wall and “hit the deck,” which means everyone must drop to the floor and lay on their stomachs.
Supplies: Something to divide the room into three decks. We just tape down lines on the floor.

Lady, Knights, and Horse
How it Works: Students split up into groups of two. They each start on separate sides of the room and when the game leader calls out one of the three positions they must get in that position with their partner. “Lady” means one must jump into the arms of the other. “Knights” means one must get on one knee while the other sits on their knee. “Horses” means one must get on both hands and knees while the other sits on their back. Last group to get into position is out and the game continues until there is one group left.
Supplies: None!

What’re Those?
How it Works: One of the most popular viral videos among students is the “What’re Those?” video. It all started with one simple vine. Go here to see it if you haven’t. In this game students will see a zoomed in picture of a shoe and they must guess what brand of shoe it is.
Supplies: Game content from DYM

Plunger Push
How it Works: If you’re looking for a fun relay style game to try with your students you should try this one. Students must sit on a skateboard and then push themselves across the room using a plunger. We did this with two teams going head to head in a relay. You can do whatever variation you think works best with your group.
Supplies: Skateboards and plungers

The Last Time the Cleveland Browns Won It All
How it Works: If you’re a youth worker in northeast Ohio or have football fans in your group than give this game a shot. It’s pretty comical and will make you realize just how bad the Browns are. It’s a trivia style game where students must guess things that have happened since the last time the Browns won a championship (which was before the Super Bowl era).
Supplies: Game content from DYM

Scatterball
How It Works: Basically dodgeball but their are no sides and you can only take 3 steps with the ball. If you get hit you’re out. If you catch the ball the person who threw it is out. Once it gets down to a few people you can take the limited number steps away and let them run as much as they want. Can also throw in extra balls to speed the game up a bit.
Supplies: Dodgeballs (I suggest using Rhino Skin balls).

Games We Played Last Month

Spring_Watercolors_01I am always looking for new game ideas for our student ministry. I know I’m not the only youth worker who spends time each week looking for games. We all do it. To help others out I want to start sharing here on my site the games we played during the previous month in our student ministry. As you will quickly see I rarely come up with my own original games. I’m not that creative. I’m grateful for sites like Download Youth Ministry, Youth Group Collective, Youthmin.org, Youth Leader Stash, and Fun Ninja that offer incredible game ideas as well as other great content.Most of the games we do in our student ministry come from those sites so I will always be linking you back to them to buy the game content or download the original graphic. So with all that said, lets get started. Here are the games we played during the month of September.

Be sure to click the title of the game to download the graphic or purchase the game content!

Beard Cheese
How It Works: Bring a few contestants up front and have them split up into even pairs. One of them will cover their face with shaving cream while the other will be given a bowl of cheese puffs. When you say “go” the student with the cheese puffs must throw them at their partner and try to stick them onto their shaving cream covered faces. Set a time limit and the team with the most cheese puffs on their face wins.
Supplies: Cans of shaving cream and cheese puffs.

Scatterball
How It Works: Basically dodgeball but their are no sides and you can only take 3 steps with the ball. If you get hit you’re out. If you catch the ball the person who threw it is out. Once it gets down to a few people you can take the limited number steps away and let them run as much as they want. Can also throw in extra balls to speed the game up a bit.
Supplies: Dodgeballs (I suggest using Rhino Skin balls).

Ninja Foot
How it Works: Everyone starts in pairs of two. They place their hands on the others shoulders and when you say “go” they must try to step on each others feet. Once someone steps on their opponents foot they win. When you loose you sit down. When you win you keep going by finding another winner to face. This keeps going until there are two people left to dual it out.
Supplies: None!

Dizzy Kick
How it Works: Pick a few contestants for this game. Have each contestant spin around with their heads on a bat and then attempt to kick a football. We did this inside so we judged the best kick by length. We also used foam footballs so we didn’t break anything.
Supplies: Football, baseball bat.

Dance Your Hat and Gloves Off
How it Works: Just like it sounds. Bring a few students up front, play some music (we played Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” of course), and have them try and dance a pair of gloves and a beanie off.
Supplies: Rubber cleaning gloves and a beanie for each contestant.

Everybody’s It
How it Works: This game is basically the traditional game of tag but backwards. Everyone starts at “it.” If you tag someone they are out. If you get tagged you are out. Keep playing until there is only one person left.
Supplies: None!

Don’t Forget the Lyrics
How it Works: This is a great game from DYM. When you purchase the game you get all the graphics and audio files. Basically you bring a few contestants up and play a song for them while showing them the lyrics on the screen. The music will stop and their will be blanks for the lyrics. The contestant must finish the lyric. We made them sing it.
Supplies: Game content from DYM.

Dr. Suess Rap
How it Works: Bring a few students up front and hand them a Dr. Suess book. Tell them when the music starts playing they must attempt to rap the Dr. Suess book. We made them each rap at least for 30 seconds. Some students killed it and did amazing. Some not so much. We used Spotify to play some hip-hop beats for the students to rap to.
Supplies: Dr. Suess books and hip-hop beats.

Spoon Fed
How it Works: Bring a few students up front and have them split into pairs of two. One student will be the feeder and the other will be the eater. The feeder is given a broomstick with a spoon taped to the end of it. You place a bowl of something (we used chocolate pudding) in front of them and have them use their giant spoons to feed their partner. Set a time limit and the team who eats the most wins.
Supplies: Broomsticks, plastic spoons (we used large serving sized spoons), chocolate pudding or some other type of food.

King of the Circle
How it Works: Tape a circle (or square) on the floor. Everyone starts in the circle and must put their hands in their pockets or behind their backs. When you say “go” students must attempt to push each other out of the circle. If you go out of the circle you are out. Keep going until their is only one person left in the circle.
Supplies: Tape.

Dethrone the King
How it Works: Everyone gets a Burger King crown and spreads out across the room. When you say “go” students must attempt to knock others students crowns off. If your crown gets knocked off you are out. If your crown falls off while running or dodging others you are out. Students cannot hold their crown on their heads. We provided balls that students could use during the game to knock others crowns off. This game is a tweaked version of game from Fun Ninja called Crown the King.
Supplies: Burger King crowns (we went to two Burger King’s and asked for crowns and ended up with more than we needed).