Check out my latest article on the Youth Specialties Blog – 5 Things I’m Glad I Did Last Summer!
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Has this ever happened to you in the summer? You plan a canoe trip and three teens show up? Or you put together a whiffle ball home run derby, one guy shows up, and is automatically declared the winner? These are true stories from my ministry. Summer events can be frustrating. Whether it is the different schedule of summer, vacations, or sports camps…it proves to be difficult to host a successful summer event. So, over the years, as I have evaluated the summer ministries, I have found two effective ways to do summer ministry.
#1 – Scale Down
Take a breather. Listen, with week-long mission trips, camps, mission projects, Vacation Bible School…your attendance at weekly meetings will begin to dip. The philosophy of scaling down in summer youth ministry is highly debated. You will find the “summer is the best time to do ministry” crowd. And if that works for you, Praise God. But, in my experience, keeping the normal ministry schedule has resulted in low attendance, picking and choosing of ministry involvement, and tired leaders.
Instead, we put our energy and passion into the other events of the summer. We serve together for big children’s ministry events. We build our efforts towards mission trips and projects. Our leaders recoup and find refreshment. And you know what happens when fall rolls around? They are pumped and primed for ministry! The summer builds up that opening night of the school year schedule.
#2 – Summer Hang Out
The summer schedule is unpredictable. So, as Kevin Durant would say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. Use informal time to build into the students. Take a few guys out for ice cream, babysit for your wife to take some girls out for coffee, or invite some teens over for a ministry project during the week. Use this time for some informal discipleship, catching up, and building unity over the summer.
We posted an announcement on Facebook to let the students know their leaders were available to hang out sometime this summer. Some girls called my wife to have dinner. I was able to have lunch with a few guys the last few weeks. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but the conversations have been priceless. What I want to happen at events (informal discipleship) is happening in this brief get-together.
What about you? What works for you in the summer? I’d love to hear your secrets to a successful summer.