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Tag Archives | promotion weekend

Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 252


Weekend Teaching Series: Move Up Weekend (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: What I wish I knew when I was in high school.
Service Length: 85 minutes

Understandable Message: This past weekend was Move Up Weekend where everyone moved up a grade. It meant our seniors were gone and the freshman came in for the first time! We went all out this weekend with program, fun, giveaways and message. The message was divided into 6 parts – 6 3-minute testimonies where each person talked about a specific learning they had as an adult that would have really benefitted them as a high school student. Each speaker also had their freshman picture up on the screen, which was absolutely hilarious, too!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We started with a live dance rendition of One Direction’s Live While Were Young complete with choreographed moves, sparklers and confetti explosions. It was hilarious and set the tone for fun right away. We also played a new classic game in our youth group called Awesome or Awful 3 (you can get either of the 1st 2 editions here on DYM). The game was so over the top but so fun. Students groaned and gagged their way through the challenges – we don’t do messy/gross games very often but it was really fun. Big prizes a couple times a year always helps, too.

Music Playlist: Sing and Shout, Oceans, You Hold Me, Wake

Favorite Moment: This weekend was a crazy one with so many moving parts – but my favorite moment was a quick 10-minute Freshman After Party right after service. Some root beer floats, fun music and lots of our team around gave the freshman a big, warm welcome. Love these new students in our ministry, the start of our 4 years together starts now!

Up next: Worship Together Weekend (July 4th weekend)

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Final Impressions and First Impressions on the Same Weekend


Promotion Weekend in HSM! This was the final week for our seniors to attend youth group – the 12th graders planned and pulled off an amazing and inspiring service this weekend and went out with a bang. At the same time, we welcomed in the soon-to-be freshman for a fun after-service hangout time, too.

This is what youth ministry is all about – we get the privilege of helping students through the critical teenage years. We get to welcome them in and send them on – sometimes on the same day! Lots of excitement and lots of tears today.


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GUEST POST: Helping 5th Graders Become 6th Graders

In June, we will be saying goodbye to our current group of 8th graders and saying hello to a new batch of 6th graders. When students move from kids ministry to middle school or student ministry, there’s typically some anxiety involved— for both the students and their parents. Here is the plan that we (middle school) and our kids ministry have come up with to help make the transition a great one.

  1. Teaching in Kids Ministry – Since February, I’ve started teaching in kids ministry one weekend per month. The goal is to familiarize the soon-to-be 6th graders with me and for me to meet several of them, too. This month, I’m going to start taking a couple of our key middle school volunteers with me.
  2. Special 5th Grader-Only Event – Toward the end of May, some members of our volunteer team and I are going to throw an event exclusively for the incoming 6th graders. Staff and volunteers from the kids ministry will be invited, as well. I’m not sure what the event is going to look like yet… maybe a Nerf Gun War in the worship center (just don’t tell our facilities director)
  3. 6th Grade Connection Night – This will be an event at the beginning of June for incoming 6th graders and their parents. It will take place in the kids auditorium and will give our leadership team a chance to introduce ourselves to students and parents. We’ll also play a game, have the Kids Pastor give a brief message, and wrap up with some kind of dessert (last year we did an ice cream sundae bar). As parents check in, we’ll make sure to get their contact info and put our summer events calendar in their hands.
  4. “Kidnapping” the 6th Graders – The weekend before the students promote, we’re going to send a few of our middle school leaders, armed with water guns and bandanas, to the kids area to “kidnap” the incoming 6th graders and take them to the middle school service. Once they get there, we’ll have a special VIP section set up for them and they’ll get to hang out in our service for about 30 minutes. We’ll play “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” and probably rig it to make sure the 5th grade contestant wins. This is a fun, memorable way to get the incoming 6th graders excited for middle school.
  5. Serving at Vacation Bible School – Our church does Vacation Bible School the Monday through Friday leading up to promotion weekend. One of the members of our middle school team and I will be the leaders of the 5th grade group that week. This was huge for us last year, as we had 15 solid hours with our incoming students days before they joined our ministry.
  6. Summer KickOff BBQ and Pool Party – For the past several years, one of our key volunteers has graciously opened his spacious backyard and pool for the first official event of the middle school summer calendar. It takes place on the Thursday of Vacation Bible School and is for both our current students and our soon-to-be-6th graders. Because the new 6th graders haven’t officially promoted by this point, we welcome them as special guests to get a taste of our middle school community.
  7. 6th Grade Party – On promotion Sunday, we are going to dedicate the final 15 minutes of our service to the new 6th graders. We’ll take them into a different room where they’ll get some kind of treat (last year we did Root Beer floats) and a special welcome by a few members of our leadership team. Afterward, they’ll take turns writing their names down on dry erase boards and then getting their pictures taken, which gives our leaders the ability to study and memorize their names.

What is your transition strategy? I’d love to hear what some of you are doing to welcome your new class of students this year.

Taylor Bird is the Middle School Pastor at Southwest Church in Indian Wells, CA. He has been serving in youth ministry for about five years.

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POLL: When Do You Promote Students Up a Grade?

Each church is different in the timing of promoting students to the next grade – wanted to get an idea from our blog community when most churches promoted students. Here at my church we promote students the week after school ends so everyone moves up for summer events and is pretty well adjusted heading into the new school year. How about you? Vote now!


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Saddleback HSM Weekend in Review: Volume 217


Weekend Teaching Series: Promotion Weekend: Here Come the Freshman (1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: What I wish I knew in high school.
Service Length: 65 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we had some fun welcoming in our new freshman into HSM. This weekend we had several speakers from our team all share the one thing they wish they knew from high school. The idea was to share some great insights with our freshman to help them as they transition to HSM, but honestly to also challenge all students to walk with Jesus and survive this challenging part of their life. Lots of different topics from lots of different types of students-now-leaders. Identity, church involvement, sharing faith with friends and many more in quick 4-minute bursts!

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: The freshman are here! We had fun in this service to help ease their transition from junior high. We replayed a classic freshman music video we made last fall, and had some fun bringing up freshman against the upperclassmen. The highlight was Freshman Feud, a fun contestant game where the freshman always won. So no matter what they answered to any question -it was always right! It was hilarious to totally rig the game and have someone typing their answers in immediately before we showed the answer on the screen. Made for some hilarious moments for sure and the freshman WON instead of getting HAZED.

Music Playlist: Go, Let It Be Known, Closer, How He Loves

Favorite Moment: Loved having Katie Edwards (our junior high pastor) come over at the beginning of each service and “hand off” a few key freshman to me personally. The Wildside team has done an incredible job preparing these students to head into high school. Pumped about the next 4 years ahead!

Up next: IMPACT weekend (1-off on serving)

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