Summer has officially begun in Northern Virginia. Depending on your county, Thursday or Friday was the students last day of school. I alway appreciate the start of summer because it gives me a chance to take a quick breather from the year that was and all the graduation festivities in June.
But, just as the school year ends, a new season begins – SUMMER! This is when the age old question is asked – what do you, as Youth Pastor, do during the summer? Do you take the summer off, do a light program or do you go full force just like you would during the school year? I know many different Youth Pastors who feel strongly about any of these three options. In fact, Tim Schmoyer, who writes the “Life in Student Ministry” blog says there are 7 benefits to shutting down for the season. Tim has some great points, as do everyone who argues their reasons for shutting down or going strong during the summer. It is a tough decision as I have gone back in forth myself over the years. What do you feel is the best for your program?
In this day and age, I believe that shutting down is not the best use of your time during the summer. In the long run, it will be better for program if you continue during the summer AS LONG AS you scale back a bit. This is for a variety of reasons. For starters, you should scale back because many students are very busy during the summer with vacation, camps and summer school. So, it does not makes sense to put a lot of effort and organization into something that will draw a lot less than during the year. However, there are plenty of students who are around over the summer who would welcome something to do, especially something that is positive and Christ centered like what you can offer.
Another reason to stay open during the summer is because the summer is a great opportunity for you build upon relationships and spend more time with students. With students out of school, it provides you with plenty of time for you to meet up and invest in them throughout the summer. Lastly, there are plenty of things you can do during the summer that you can not do during the year that can give your program a fresh look. For example, you could:
- Take Day Trips. I live so close to Washington, DC, we often take our students into the city to go to the Zoo or one of the museums. But, there are so many other places you can go as well. You can go hiking, rock climbing, or see a Christian concert. Anything that is out of the ordinary for these students to go is a draw. These events are great to because we encourage our students to bring their friends. It is the perfect, non-threatening bridge that will hopefully draw new students into our program.
- Plan Mission Trips, Summer Camps or Help out at V.B.S. These are great opportunities to take a week (or long weekend) away with some of the youth in your program and spur them on in Christ while having some serious time with them. Very little builds relationships more than spending 24 hours a day with them over the course of 4-7 days! That time can go a long way in those relationships. Also, when you help out at your church’s V.B.S., it promotes working well with other ministries in your church. It is also a great way for your students to invest in the future youth program.
- Eliminate Sunday Night Meetings. Instead, do a weekly Wednesday Brunch time or a BBQ Fellowship time. Center your time around food and fellowship. Then, after brunch or the BBQ is over, conclude the time with a devotional or challenge for the students to take with them the rest of the week.
- Have returning College students speak to your youth. This helps you in 2 ways: 1. give you a break from speaking regularly. 2. gives the college students a chance to come back to share what they have learned during the year and how God has worked in their lives. It is a powerful example for the youth so see how you can still follow Christ in college.
These are just some of the opportunities you have to tone down, but stay strong and active during the summer. When you tone down, you give yourself a little breather to refocus and get organized for the fall. But, more importantly, you remain active enough where life transformation is still encouraged.
TAKE A MINUTE and…
- Review what you are doing this summer. Where is the time for fellowship, outreach and discipleship encouraged? If you do not have any of these things planned, spend time seeking the Lord’s direction and see if you need to incorporate these into your program. Remember, you don’t need to go all out as summer provides opportunities for you to do different activities and events.
- Plan some time for you to start planning, dreaming for the fall program. If you don’t plan ahead, you will get caught behind in September.
Questions, experiences or thoughts? Feel free to post them here so we can be encouraging each other.