Summer is a time when things change for our students.
Sometimes that means they get busier. They are working a summer job, going to summer sports workouts, going to summer camps and trying to hang out with friends and binge of the latest Netflix show.
Other times that means our students are now at home all day, with nothing to do, bored out of their minds and filling time with often unproductive activities.
The transition to summer brings a lot of change for youth workers as well.
Programs often fly out the window and are replaced with a different type of ministry. We find more time to do the things we should do, but in the busyness of the year, often put off.
We reconnect with friends and loved ones. Recommit to hobbies. We binge the latest Netflix shows or hole up and play video games.
If we aren’t intentional with ourselves and our students, we can waste a summer. I’ve done it as a student myself, and there have been summers in ministry that have gone at such a frenetic pace there was never a recharge and Fall arrived with exhaustion and already run-down leaders.
How can we make the best use of summer? There are three things I think that, if we are intentional with, can drastically increase our likelihood of Kingdom impact this summer:
I think we can all agree that one of the key aspects to summer is the ability to build relationships. It just doesn’t happen like this during the school year.
Depending on your context and climate, summer is the time to be outside, to hang out at the beach, to go on mission trips, camps, campouts, etc. The ministry season sort of changes, and things tend to become less programmatic and more fluid.
Use this to your advantage.
Go paintballing. Go kayak. Take a field trip to a nearby city just for fun. Head to your local ice cream place and hangout.
Summer is such an optimal time to build relationships with students, focusing on their hobbies and environments.
Summer is a “break” from the norm for our students. School is out, summer jobs, summer trips and summer fun is in.
Whether at the beach, the pool or inside playing video games, our students are taking a break from school and a break from routine.
They are already so over programmed throughout the year, we don’t want to over-program their summer too.
We have a student who is normally engaged every single Sunday during the year, and is very busy during the week before, during and after school, who is going to be gone most of the summer at various camps, competitions, and practices. We don’t want to add to that, but want to make whatever we do meaningful and impactful in the life of the student. Sometimes we need to be the ones who bring the rest.
We need to take a break too. Rest is biblical. It doesn’t feel productive or necessary sometimes, but it is. Trust me.
I am all about productivity and check lists and getting things done. I’ve had to find out the hard way that rest is necessary, biblical and sometimes the healthiest thing I can do for myself (and my family) spiritually, emotionally, physically. I also become a better worker and servant when I am more rested. Rest this summer.
Follow Natural Rhythms
Use what is already in place in your context to minister to students. There are natural rhythms to whatever context you are in. We have a natural rhythm of taking some time off of youth ministry, then doing “relational events” (for lack of a better term) which including campfires, movies, free concerts, games and so on, usually in people’s homes. As our summer rhythm continues, we do a missions trip in July and sort of end the summer off with VBS and a big cookout party at someone’s lake house. This is our natural rhythm.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Free concerts and street performers are a natural part of our city. Find whatever is already happening, and join your students there. Chances are they want to be in those places anyway, and this provides critical relationship opportunities for them to see us outside of church and hang out in a context that isn’t ministry-focused.
Be your real self around your students this summer. Hang out. Have fun. Build relationships. Rest well. Follow natural rhythms.
Ben Marshall has served as a Youth and Young Adult Pastor in Holland, MI since 2014 and recently became a Campus Pastor in the Fall of 2016. He has a passion for discipling youth and young adults, helping them realize their God-given potential and developing next generation leaders. Ben is married to Connie and their had their first child, Aliya Joy, in October, 2016. Ben’s hobbies include blogging, playing guitar, soccer, and football. Follow him on Twitter @benmarshall3 or on his blog at youthpastorben.wordpress.com.