By Kayla Stevens
Do you remember the song we learned as kids about going on a bear hunt to memorize prepositions?
“Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, gotta go through it!”
When it comes to change and transitions, I can be guilty of adopting this attitude. Try as I might to sneak around the change or jump over it, I’ve got to go through it.
Transitions are challenging at any age. However, as ministry leaders, we can help snuff out the “gotta go through it” attitude in ourselves and our kids and instead celebrate the growth and rites of passage that come with next level transitions. Here are a few ways to help you embrace the changes over the next year in your ministry.
Talk about it.
Transitions aren’t scary. The unknowns and uncertainties surrounding transitions are what feel scary. As the ministry leader, you have the power to disarm some of those fears through how and what you say about what’s coming. Talk to your kids and parents about what changes are coming and why. Be strategic in your communication so that kids and families feel part of the conversation. Engage your ministry leaders, and prepare them with the tools and resources they need to best lead the kids in their gathering time.
This is the one I often forget (mostly because I’m still trying to figure out how to ‘get around it’), but positive change can and should be celebrated. Are the kids in your ministry transitioning to different policies? Celebrate the time you get to be together again. Create a fun game or share a silly video explaining what is coming. Are kids transitioning to different age groups? Do something to make them feel special, seen, and valued. Is the learning style of how kids receive teaching and curriculum changing? Celebrate the fun parts of learning that are new and different. Notice the ways this new learning style can help kids get to know one another even more than before.
Include the Church.
One of the many blessings of our church community is the joy of linking arms and growing in the faith together. And yet, sometimes the church only hears about kids ministry when there is a shortage of volunteers (oops!). Let’s make sure that as we celebrate transitions, we involve the whole church. Are there any littles transitioning up to elementary classes? Celebrate with your church by showing pictures of the kids—maybe receiving their first ‘big kids’ bible’—and a few details about their life (a favorite Bible story or what they want to be when they grow up). Did you make that silly video for parents to hear about the changes to your gatherings? Show it to the church and have the pastor or a staff member talk about what changes are coming and why the church should be excited about it. Are there preteens transitioning to student ministry? Invite the church to partner with families in prayer for their preteens for one month, adopting a student to pray for each week.
Transitions will always be a part of our lives and our ministries. As we “go through it” let’s remember to notice how we communicate and disarm fears or uncertainty, celebrate what God is doing along the way, and link arms with the church to help the kids and students in our ministries reach for that next level in their faith.
Kayla Stevens has been serving in kids ministry for over ten years. She is a content editor for Lifeway Kids and a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Kayla lives in Nashville, Tennessee and enjoys teaching kids each week at her church.