summeryouthministryHow are you spending your summer with students?

I personally know of several youth groups that shut down because of their proximity to a lake or local activity that keeps teenagers busy, while other student ministries seem to amp up their programs and significantly grow during this season.

Youth worker Austin McCann offers some great thoughts that will help you spend more time with students, no matter what your situation may be.

Like many student pastors I struggle with finding time to hangout with students. In the summer I feel this struggle more than ever… Let’s face it, you can’t leave the office and spend everyday with students this summer. If you do, you will probably get fired! But how do we manage hanging out with our students this summer while making sure all the office work gets done and our ministry doesn’t fall apart? [ READ MORE ]

Austin believes it may be as simple as:

  • Get to the office earlier.
  • Take them along with you.
  • Do stuff at night.
  • Take them out to lunch.

 What have you found that works for you in the summer?

Chances are you are currently in the process of wrapping things up from the year and transitioning into summer mode.  That means camps, retreats, mission trips and planning for the fall.  Even if you are year round with ministry you look forward to the summer because the weather is nice, the days are longer and who doesn’t love ending the day with a barbecue?

And then you blink.  And summer is gone, September is a week away and you find yourself scurrying, flailing and gasping for any margin that might be left.  It’s another summer you blew away because you didn’t:

Maintain A Schedule:  Granted you have more margin in the summer, but you still need to know how much.  In the summer, life is a little easier because there might be less people coming to your ministry, and the trips you planned are set to go.  Just because the summer is planned doesn’t mean you can sit back, relax and forget about it.  By maintaining consistent office hours, and a work schedule you enable yourself to build margin instead of losing it.  Just give yourself thirty minutes to sit down and plan out your weeks and days.

Communicate Consistently:  I’m sure you hate playing that game where you need to guess whether or not certain people will be back in the fall.  You tell yourself, “I need a break and so do they.” And while that is true it doesn’t mean going M.I.A. for the entire summer.  It’s wise to check-in with your ministry team online through Facebook and Twitter.  Gather them together for a cookout or give them a call.  You don’t have to talk to them with any purpose in mind other than letting them know you are thinking about them. Then when the question of inviting them back comes up, it won’t be like breaking the ice all over again.

Rest And Refresh: Whether you break entirely or just slow things down it’s important to schedule a few days and even an entire week of true vacation.  If you can’t get away because of finances give yourself a stay-cation by staying home, sleeping in, plan a fun get together with friends, just make sure you give yourself a break.  Pace yourself and even plan some time to grow individually, professionally and spiritually

Put On Sunscreen:  Don’t get burned, put on a little SPF 30 and be safe.  No one wants to see you red as a lobster with those crazy tan lines.  Plus, as great as aloe is, the burn is always still too much.

Summer is a season to enjoy, it’s a season to refresh and set you in the right direction.  For some of us it’s busier, while for others it’s just a chance to step back.  Either way do not let this season get away from you, plan, and prepare so that you can walk into the fall excited.

What other mistakes do youth ministers make in the summer?

Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.