Intentional Summer Ministry
Summer will soon be upon us, and I’m ready to take advantage of the opportunities that summer affords for more intentional time investing in students. Any change in the calendar, but particularly summer, can be a time to break away from the usual pattern for youth group, a chance for us to change things up a bit without locking ourselves into a long-term commitment. I once heard the phrase, “Change of pace, change of place, change of perspective,” and I can’t think of a better motto for an intentional summer of ministry.
Change of place
A change in location can make an incredible difference in helping you connect with students who would otherwise be beyond your reach. Smaller youth groups may have an advantage in making this switch easier, but larger groups can still find local options away from the church campus. Look for a space that provides room to have fun, a place to sit down together for Bible study, and a place to cook or serve food. Consider meeting at a large park for ultimate Frisbee, or renting a gym or space at a local YMCA. You might even talk to a church member about using their backyard swimming pool. Our church sits very close to the coastline, and during the summertime we move our Sunday night youth group to the beach. We grill hot dogs, play games, sing songs, have a short devotional, and occasionally break up into prayer groups. Because we’ve changed up our location we’ve been able to reach students who were apprehensive about coming to a church.
“Consider how you can take advantage of the time that students are available during the summer and think of ways to invest in their spiritual growth and development.”
Change of pace
Summer schedules look different for our students. Many students get summer jobs or spend time at sports or band camps, but we should see each change or shift as an opportunity to change the pace of our ministry. One of the highlights of our summer ministry is Summer Perks, a morning Bible study for high school students at a local coffee shop. We get together once a week to study through a book of the Bible, and students are encouraged to read and journal during the week and come to Summer Perks ready to discuss what they are learning. We’re unable to do this kind of ministry during the school year, but it provides a great and challenging learning environment for our students. Consider how you can take advantage of the time that students are available during the summer and think of ways to invest in their spiritual growth and development.
“To spur students’ towards growth we often need to change their perspectives, and mission work can change a perspective like nothing else I’ve seen.”
Change of perspective
To spur students’ towards growth we often need to change their perspectives, and mission work can change a perspective like nothing else I’ve seen. To plan a foreign or out-of-state mission trip takes time, but you need not leave your hometown to accomplish a perspective-changing mission trip. You could plan a weeklong project in your community or coordinate a mission day each week of the summer. Look around town for food pantries, soup kitchens, and families in need. You could have your students paint the home of an elderly person, do yard work, clean up a park, feed pizza to the kids at the skate park, or play games with nursing home residents. Choose projects that will expose your students to different cultures and generations, and let your students see and experience life outside of their comfort zones. When students see and interact with families who are struggling financially or individuals who are all alone, they will begin to see their world differently and will likely take an interest in meeting the needs of others.
Don’t wait until June to figure out your next steps; put your plan in place before summer arrives. In doing so you’ll take advantage of the moments that you have to reach more students by changing the place, deepen your relationships with students by changing the pace, and challenging your students’ worldview by changing their perspective.
About the Author
Andy Lawrenson has been in student ministry for 26 years both as a volunteer and paid staff member. Andy and his wife, Misha, have been married for 28 years and have three children: a son in middle school and twin eight-year-olds, a boy and girl. Andy loves getting together with other youth pastors to talk about […]