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?

Even though school has not let out here in Maryland we are already in summer mode. It doesn’t mean we shut things down or fill it up with summer camps and events, we just alter our schedule. We tone down programming, keep things simple and maintain our pace. The goal in our summer is to prepare for the fall while staying in touch with the teens.

Your summers are so important. How you approach them will determine your readiness for the fall. There is a tendency by many youth ministers to either overload their schedule or completely check out. If you are going to do youth ministry for the long haul you need to treat the summer with the same focus, and attention that you do every other season. If you take advantage you’ll find yourself:

  • Building Margin: By trimming back some of the bells and whistles of your program you’ll find yourself preparing less on a week to week basis. Take that time to rest, pray and grow as a leader. When fall comes you’ll be more conditioned and ready to take on it’s grueling pace.
  • Keeping Momentum: While you want to build margin, you don’t want to completely stop what you are doing. Make sure what you do over the summer is consistent and scheduled. By maintaining a little bit of a pace you can ensure a smoother transition into fall.  
  • Taking Ministry To A New Level: With the margin your are building you can also experiment with a few activities and projects that would be too difficult to pull off in the fall. Think big and don’t fear failure. Summer is a time to cut loose.
  • Investing In Leaders: During the grind of the year it’s hard to find time to get to know your leaders. Use the margin that most people have to hang out and get to know one another. Take them out for coffee, catch a ball game or invite them over for a barbecue. Make the summer relational.

Don’t waste your summer by overplanning or completely check it out. Develop a strategy and take advantage of it’s laid back feeling. By capitalizing on the summer you’ll be more ready for the fall.

What do you do with your summers?

Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)



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.