When I was a kid, my parents were heavily involved in our church. Throughout the years they filled a variety of roles including trustee, deacon, elder, janitor, AWANA commander, VBS director, missions committee member, church secretary, coffee-time-set-up-crew, and more. Needless to say, we spent so much time in the church building that I knew it inside out and upside down. I explored every nook and cranny of the place and knew where everything was.
I was a regular attender at our church for four years prior to taking on the position of children’s pastor, but unless you’re on staff or basically live at the church like we did when I was growing up it’s a little weird to snoop around closets. Now that I’m on staff I’ve taken a bit more time to explore. Last week I was on the hunt for a Moses costume and discovered something called the Sunday School gate buried waaaaay underneath the back stairwell. My curiosity was piqued. After all, I had never heard of a Sunday School gate! I asked one of the other staffers at the church and she explained that in the past it had been used for promotion Sunday. Kids who were moving up to a new Sunday School class would walk through the Sunday School gate as a symbolic “moving up.”
The Sunday School gate hasn’t been used since I’ve been at Fillmore, but the idea of the Sunday School gate stuck with me. It has such potential for a new tradition! I cleared the dust off of it and gave it a new home in front of the door to The Hub. Each Sunday, one of the upper elementary kids (those in fourth, fifth, or sixth grade) serves as the gate keeper as kids enter the room for children’s church or J.A.M. Time. The idea is that next summer, when we have a promotion ceremony for sixth graders moving up to youth group and graduating out of children’s church, the fourth and fifth graders will hold the gate open for the sixth graders as they walk through it for the last time.
We’ve fallen out of the habit of having a promotion Sunday at Fillmore, so I’m hoping this will be a step in bringing it back to life. What do you do at your church when kids move up from children’s ministry to youth group? What have you found to be meaningful or perhaps not-so-meaningful?