by Bekah Stoneking
A few weeks ago, I marveled as I stepped back from the table where my young Sunday school students were working. How did these kids go from not being able to read at the start of the year to now looking up and reading short Bible passages? I asked myself.
I know they’re ready to be challenged in an older class, but I’m not looking forward to letting them go.
Promotion Sunday is bittersweet. Transition is tough—for kids and adults—but it’s also exciting as it marks a new season. Here are 10 tips to help you navigate your Promotion Sunday like a pro.
Cover Promotion Sunday in prayer in these ways:
That you will be obedient to the Lord, sensitive to His spirit, and that you will be a good steward of the children, leaders, and ministry He has entrusted to you.
For Your Team:
That they’ll continue to grow and mature as disciples who are making disciples, not only of children, but of people in all areas of life.
For Your Church:
That you will love and shepherd the people in your congregation and that your team will partner with parents and caregivers to raise and teach the next generation.
For the Kids:
That they will make having a relationship with the Lord a priority and that their transition into their new classes will be smooth and joyful.
Promotion Sunday is often a time when church members take on new ministry roles. Set a time to gather your leaders together for prayer, encouragement, and training. Review routines and procedures, update workers on things that may have changed since last year, and cast vision for the upcoming year.
As you equip your leaders, also equip parents to prepare their children to begin a new ministry year.
Remind families of policies and procedures and reassure them of the training and safety measures your church has taken to ensure the well-being of their children. Update parents on any changes to structure or curriculum. Give them a good idea of what to expect in the new classes.
Don’t wait until Promotion Sunday to have kids meet their new teachers. Instead, give new class rosters to teachers in advance and encourage them to begin making connections with kids and parents.
This could be as simple as looking out for kids in the hallway and saying “hello,” sitting with new families during church services or at fellowship gatherings, or visiting other classrooms to introduce yourself and tell the kids how excited you are to be their new teacher.
In addition to meeting your kids, take a day and invite them to your classroom.
This year, my church will host an open house the week before Promotion Sunday. Every teacher will be present in the kids ministry area during each worship hour, ready to meet kids and parents. We’ll also have treats (a colleague’s church serves “promotion sundaes!”).
Be mindful of allergies and provide snacks that include everyone as you invite kids to check out their new classrooms, meet their new friends, and make connections.
Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?
Design a fun way for kids to find their classrooms on Promotion Sunday. Give kids a puzzle piece, a silhouette, or a color that matches the shape or color on their classroom door. You can send these “clues” home the week before Promotion Sunday to build anticipation.
Encourage kids and teachers to dress up to match their group’s color or theme. Also consider having kids follow a colored piece of tape or different animal footprints from the entrance to their new rooms.
Kick off the new ministry year with tools and resources to help foster children’s faith. My church gives Bibles to rising first-graders to ensure that even the earliest readers in our church have a full copy of God’s Word.
You may also consider giving something to every child or family, like a fresh resource for family devotions or a calendar of upcoming children and family events at your church.
Give kids the opportunity to build a new community and make their mark on their new classrooms. Allow them to help you hang their photos on the bulletin board or have them work together to create a mural for the room. (Make sure to allow new kids to add to these pieces as they visit your church.)
Another thing I like to do when starting a new class (or even when starting a new quarter or study) is to create a KWL chart with my kids. On a piece of poster board, draw three columns, labeled with a K, W, or L.
Begin the activity by asking kids to tell you what they Know about God, the Bible, or another topic. Write their answers in the K column, and then move to the W column, asking the kids what they Want to know. As your year progresses, re-visit and update the chart and fill out the L column to record new things you have Learned.
Just because Promotion Sunday ends doesn’t mean the transition is complete. In the days and weeks following Promotion Sunday, connect with your kids over the phone or through mail or email.
Ask how they’re doing and recall a fun or special moment from last Sunday. Also take a moment to encourage each child and to remind him or her of Christ’s great love. Kids can never hear enough that Jesus loves them!
10. Pray (some more!)
Pray for your kids every day—that they may come to know Jesus, mature in their faith, and make much of Jesus everywhere they go.
Over the next year, pray for specific needs as they arise. Follow up with your kids to let them know you’ve been praying and how God has been answering your prayers.
Promotion Sunday may be just one of many events on your ministry calendar but it marks a time of transition and transformation in children’s lives. With time and intentionality, you can partner together with families and the Lord in the faith development of your church’s youngest disciples.