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?

I’m a huge Matt McGill fan (tell me you subscribe to his youth ministry blog) – and today I discovered another timeless video of him giving the camp rules that you have to see. There’s simply nothing like this guy. Genius.

JG




Summer is coming to a close for us – in some parts of the country school is already in full swing. So how was it – this poll is obviously going to only track the big picture, but I’m curious to see how it went for you! I’d vote 4 … but only because I’m exhausted. Vacation next week – woohooo!

JG


Today’s poll – looking for the most impactful part of your summer – vote now!

JG



Summer time is a season full of dreams and big ideas.  Despite programming we tell ourselves, “This will be the summer I…”  And we feel good about this, because going into the summer we feel like we have more time and energy.  In reality nothing could be further from the truth.  Your calendar changes, and in some cases becomes busier.

Summer is supposed to be a time when we follow through on our ideas and set goals to achieving them.  However, as your time disappears before your eyes you wonder, “How are any of my ideas going to happen?”  It’s a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness; however, to make ideas happen you need to:

Create Steps: If a dream is too big, it will always seem daunting.  Look at creating mini mile markers to achieving it.  When you reach each step, celebrate because you are one step closer.

Write Them Down EVERYWHERE: When you write it down you are more than likely to remember.  The idea is no longer a wishful thought; but a tangible initiative.  Write it down in places where you will frequently see it, so that you don’t lose site.

Make Them Public:  There is nothing better than accountability to help you towards your ideas.  By making it public you are giving permission for people to ask you, “What happened to that Facebook page you said you were going to create?” or “I thought you said we would have new t-shirts this fall.” It might be humbling; however, it’ll keep you from falling away.

Delegate: You might come up with many ideas; however, have a hard time executing them, that’s okay.  If you find creating goals is easier than following through on them, find people who are workers and doers.  Build a team around you that’s going to carry your ideas through the mundane paperwork, charts and spreadsheets.

Creating goals and building dreams is an organic process that needs to be continuously moving.  Sometimes we come up with 75% of a great idea and the tendency is to kill it.  Write it down and don’t be afraid to look at it later.  Ideas are organisms, just like you and me they need to grow.

How do you help your ideas grow?

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.

 

As we’ve already discussed, summer is a chance to change up your student program; why not let it be a chance to change up how you care for your leaders as well. This summer we’re trying some new things, and bringing back some time-tested classic ways to encourage and care for our leaders. Here are a few of both!

Kick it off with a BBQ.
Nothing says “You’re important to me” like a double cheeseburger fresh off the grill….unless  you have ribs, too. By now your summer is in full swing, so take an evening to relax, eat some tasty food, and love on your volunteer team. They’ll need the encouragement to make it through the rest of the summer schedule!

Think about a ball game.
A while back we did a big tailgate party with our leaders and bought them tickets to a baseball game. Pick a great night (with fireworks) and if you’ve got the chance, spring for tickets for their whole family as well. Everyone makes sacrifices when a parent serves in youth group—give them all a ballpark dog and a seat in the upper deck to say thanks.

Host a coffee drop-in.
As you care for leaders in the summer, consider this one: Drive-By Coffee. You bring your MacBook and work from Starbucks for the bulk of the afternoon and let all your leaders know if they drop by you’ll buy them a drink. In our experience most will stay for maybe 10-15 minutes, so you can get in a ton of relational time as well as crank on a few emails in between. Of course, you need to be prepared for the awkward leader who decides to hang around for the majority of the afternoon!

Have some end of summer beach/pool fun.
Summer has been incredible, so why not pull everyone together for a little fun poolside? Maybe break out the grill again or just do s’mores at the firepit. Forget any formal program; just circle everyone up at the end of the night to share highlights, favorite moments, and stories that are destined to become legendary in your ministry for years to come.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.



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.

Summer is crazy busy! And while the amount of activities and schedule vary from ministry to ministry, there’s no denying that summer can be a challenging time of year.

So how do you make the most of summer activities? Here are a few ways that might help you fall in love with summer as your favorite season of ministry:

Give your summer interns or key volunteers a chance to lead.
Take the summer off from teaching—and work on getting some of your people up front. Better yet, consider asking students to teach a series as well. Just because you’re not speaking doesn’t mean that it won’t be work for you helping coach them and assist in crafting their talks, but the effort will be worth it. You get a chance to listen and be refreshed while less experienced teachers are being developed.

Try something new…really new.
This summer, we brainstormed up a ton of new ways to engage students. We came up with something that is super new … The Zombie Apocalypse. The whiteboard is filled with ideas on how to make this thing epic – think capture-the-flag + zombies and you’ll get the idea. Will it work? Will I (Josh) lose my job? Who knows, but no one will say we’re content with the same old summer activities. HA! If you need ideas, and didn’t read last week’s articles…shame on you. Now that you are shamed, go read those for a bunch of ideas.

Capture as many text numbers as you can.
Use the summer to expand your contact list. For us, it’s our texting group—we want this to grow significantly heading into fall. This will help you message a ton more students when you start promoting small groups or your fall kickoff teaching series. When a student signs up for an event, make one of the required fields their phone number and a check-box allowing you to text them. They can opt out on their phones at any time.

I think we’ve said this enough the past 2 weeks, but it’s because we don’t want you to miss it! Relationships are the point; don’t lose sight of that during summer. Whatever you plan is pretty much an excuse to have conversations and challenge students in their faith. Make the most of your summer activities!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.