Summer, Summer, Summer
It's like a merry-go-round...
Oh, Oh it's magic when I'm with you... -The Cars
For many churches, the end of the school year means the end of another grueling season of student ministry. You've been consumed with teaching, outreach and trying to learn the latest worship songs. You've survived a retreat or two, and, if you're old school, maybe even a lock-in. You've struggled with planning your schedules around the 6 different high schools and 7 different middle schools your youth attend, and you've felt like you never get enough time with the kids. If any of that applies to you as a youth pastor, then I'd like to offer you some FREEDOM! Welcome to Summer!
Everyone has heard the stories of the students who are bored to tears by the third day of summer vacation- and those stories are very true (I know- I have a 15 year old)! Summer is a time when many of your students have more spare hours than at any other point in the year. As a youth pastor, I was always one to plan huge summer programs, including a mission trip and a "vacation" trip- but that was never the best part of summer for me. It's just a great time for a youth pastor to hang out with their students and build relationships- often in ways that are far superior to anything you can do during the school year. Whether you meet on a regular basis all summer long or cut back on programming, there are things you can do that will give you the opportunity to gather smaller groups of students for times of fun, fellowship and any other purpose you might have in mind. And these events and programs can be done with minimal preparation and effort- and at almost no cost. They simply require your time.
Starting Friday I am going to share (one at a time) a bunch of things I did over my 28 years in youth ministry to make summers magical. All of these ideas are so simple and easy to plan that you could add any number of them to your schedule this summer if you so choose. They are not earth-shakingly creative or unique. But they worked for me in a variety of situations over almost three decades of ministry. It seems to me that everyone has a choice to make about summers and student ministry. You can slow down your ministry and give your youth the freedom to watch Jersey Shore marathons all summer. Or you can plan a few extra events that give you the freedom to really get to know your students in ways you might not have thought possible. Summers