A horde of activity-hungry adolescents are closing in. Soon they’ll be released from their ever-demanding schedules and let loose on an unsuspecting populus, free to roam and devolve into brainless indeterminate automatons! It seems there’s no way to make it out alive.
Unless you’re prepared for survival.
And survive you must. For the future of your ministry hangs in the balance. Summer is a time when you have the most access to your students and it’s up to you to provide activities and opportunities for relationship building. These relationships will carry you through the school year and will lay a foundation of discipleship that you can continue to build on throughout the year.
But how can you accomplish this? With all of the mission trips, fun trips, and various activities, most of us are just trying to survive, much less thrive. Surprise, surprise…The key to a successful (and sane) summer is forward planning and honest evaluation (collective groan). It’s time to wake up, youthworkers! It’s almost Easter and if you haven’t started planning your weekly activities for summer, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. But it’s not too late! Here are some things you can do to make the most of your time this summer.
Never eat lunch alone! – Okay, some days this might not be possible but strive to make as many connections as possible. There is something very spiritual about sharing a meal together. This doesn’t mean you have to eat out every meal. Bring your lunch and meet some kids for a picnic somewhere. Or invite them to the church. Or, if you can’t afford lunch, arrange to meet youth or adults for coffee. Schedule time to meet with your youth parents and adult volunteers too. Take this time to check up on the spiritual health of your youth, families, and those that work with youth. Personally, I make room in my budget every year for meals with students and volunteers. If you don’t have that luxury, there are creative ways to make connections during meal time.
Provide a variety of discipleship opportunities! – I realized several months ago that I was excluding about a third of my students by the very fact that we only offered discipleship opportunities on Wednesday nights. This is not always possible for students especially those involved in extracurriculars. Though I wasn’t saying this outright, I was inadvertently communicating, “If you can’t be here on Wednesdays then we don’t have opportunities for you to deepen your faith.” Summer is a perfect time to try new things and connect with students that you were unable to connect with during the school year. Try having morning opportunities and also times other than (or in addition to) Sundays and Wednesdays.
Over plan your trips! – No matter what kind of trip you’re taking it’s always best to over plan. We’ve all expereinced those dead times during trips when you’re sitting around waiting for the next thing. Why not have a few things in your back pocket to do or discuss during these times? Also, you might be rejoicing that you finally found some adults to attend your trip but don’t stop there! Recruit a few more adults to load everyone’s luggage into the bus at the beginning of the trip. Recruit another person to recieve money, permission slips, registration forms, etc. so you can focus on connecting with youth and their parents. This will also give you time to answer questions and have a focused time of prayer before you leave. Recruit (different) adults to unload and clean the bus when you return. The last thing you want to do after a long roadtrip is get stuck cleaning the bus at 1 am.
Stay tuned for (Part 2)!
What are some good rules of thumb that you follow for planning your summer?
What are some of your biggest obstacles you face during summer time ministry?