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After what I like to call the “year long winter,” I think summer is FINALLY around the corner!  For us youth people it means trips, camps, and deeper relational building. Recently, I realized something about my own attitude about summer: “Parents want to give their kids something to do, so I better step up and offer more.”

As a parent of three kids who are “not quite old enough to work” I get it. We take maybe a week of family vacation. The other weeks upon weeks of summer are filled with my children continuously mouthing the words, “I’m bored,” over and again. By the time they hit Middle School they feel too old for day camp, (if you can even afford it in the first place) and there are only so many water activities or time at home you all can endure. Once a summer we can afford something awesome, and then it’s over. So as the youth person I want to provide something that takes it off the parent who is probably working anyway. Bored kids seem to find drama, so I want them to stop wandering aimlessly. Yet, I have been challenged this summer to see if there is anything I can do to empower parents to engage their children. It’s the perfect time. Schedules are more relaxed and we aren’t focused on school, pressure is off until band or sports camp.

Here are some ideas to put in the hands of parents:

Before & After Trip Materials:

There are loads of materials out there to put in parents hands for before and after missions trips. (Simply has been sending out freebies on this topic for weeks now.) However, what about before and after camp as well? As a parent your child comes home from camp and you ask, “What did you learn this week?” They don’t know how to filter the emotions and express themselves. They say, “It was awesome.” or “I gave my life to Jesus,” (again) or “The Theme was Growing in the Lord.” The well engaged parent says, “Tell me about it.” Then your introvert child says, “Do we have to talk about this?” Provide the parent with ways they can help their kids take what they have learned and use it as a catalyst for a deeper relationship with Christ. Try providing an idea list like “Finding Jesus on Vacation.” What are some ways their kids can take the fun time on vacation and see the Lord in the everyday? I am working on a list right now for my parents.

They Can Do THIS!

How can they engage their kids spiritually daily? Many parents are intimidated because they are not theologians. A friend of mine recently challenged me: “You are a youth pastor, you are constantly thinking about how to engage your kids for Christ, the rest of us regular parents don’t think that way.” I would take it a step further: It’s my personality. My husband is also a “youth person” and doesn’t think like that either. They also think they have to be spiritual giants to talk Christ with their kids. Just put materials in their hands that allow them to grow with their child. What about some of the textable devotions? Instead of sending them yourself, give the parent the list, and help them know how to use it. They can send the devo to their whole family and then have a five minute conversation about them at some point in the day.

Practical Ideas:

Parents need IDEAS. What are some things they can do with their kids to engage them in thinking about God on a regular basis? What about planning out a “Random Acts of Kindness” summer? Their kids come up with ways they can bless their neighbors throughout the summer: bake some cupcakes and drop them off, pull weeds in a garden, mow a lawn. Is there a way they can be “Kindness Spies?” Can they go the whole summer and never get caught in the things they plan? Spend an afternoon making encouragement cards and drop them off at a local nursing home. Send them cameras or phones to take pictures of God in creation. Help them with the everyday stuff that’s quick and easy. Yes, their kids will say, “It’s dumb.”  Yes, their kids will learn something on the other side. :)

Whatever you do with students for the summer, there are going to be far more bored hours at home than anywhere else. Let parents know this is the PERFECT time to get to know their kids, and together to seek God. Every parent can DO this! Put the power back in their hands.

What else can you offer this summer?

Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Let’s Talk Youth Ministry Vlog is BACK!!!!!!!!!!!! And we are posting a NEW SHOW EVERY WEEK. 

On Today’s Show: All Things Summer!!!!

  1. Modesty: Dress code or not?
  2. Tips to making summer great.
  3. Growing your core student base.

 

Hope it helps,

Kurt & AC



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It’s probably a little late for this post as many of us have the summer all laid out. Some of us aim for a scaled back model that includes more “activities.” Other just continue what we have going year round.

There is more “down time” for our families. We each have a different way of filling the summer. For years it was my busiest time filled with camps and missions trips. I almost dreaded the exhaustion as each day I literally ran around from 8:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night doing stuff and then making sure all was ready for the following day. I was frustrated when my students and their parents didn’t show deep appreciation for all I offered.

This triggered a realization for me that it isn’t about IF we do something during the summer, it’s WHAT we do for the summer.

Here are the key elements I take into account:

Take A Breath

What I love most about summer is there are less stressors competing for my student’s energy. While scheduling may still be an issue, I feel like I get a more laid back version of my youth. This is why I love to take the time to teach life lessons in action. Rather than simply sitting for a study, we serve together. Yes, we do take a mission’s trip, however, we find other ways to give to the community as well. In the midst of our projects we talk about the Bible, life lessons, and accountability.

Reinforce & Build

Over the course of the school year I have some key themes we focus on. Summer is when I come at those same ideas from a new fresh angle. I love to come up with activities that back up lessons we have been talking about, then at the end sit down and discuss what they keep learning. As we strengthen the learning, it provides building blocks to new lessons about the Lord.

Stop Talking About Fun

Here’s what I mean. Saying that our summertime activities should be more “fun” is like saying that we are boring the rest of the year. There is space however, to be more creative in some instances. Summer is the perfect venue to ask parents to host a dessert or open their home. Ask students to “plan the summer.” This is the time when they have the bandwidth to try. Could they come up with games, activities or ideas? It will take some guidance, however, try including them not only in what they want, but taking ownership.

Focus Down

Many times we talk about how we want summer to deepen our relationships with students. Yet, merely “hanging out” doesn’t always make that happen. Be purposeful in your relational time. Focus on ways you can get to know youth deeply, and allow them to get to know you.

Throw Out “All or Nothing”

Often the schedules of our students dictate what we do. We complain, “Not that many students come.”  So what? Why do we have to have a large number of students for it to be effective? We never know which students may be really impacted just by the extra attention they get.

Summer is my favorite time and I realize that when I see it as an opportunity to be creative and see Christ what a powerful time of year it can be.

- Leneita

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?



Freshmen Transition

 —  April 3, 2013 — 3 Comments

It is hard to believe that the school year is almost over! That means that it is time to say goodbye to our seniors and hello to our new freshmen! This year, we want to take Freshmen transition to a new level, so we are getting a head start on what we are going to do and how we are going to do it.

The biggest transition piece we are doing is a not-so-new event called Freshmen Frenzy. It is something that we used to do years ago, but we let it rest for a while. Each year we did Frenzy differently and, keeping with tradition, we are completely rethinking how we are going to do it this year. We are already tossing around a few ideas that include the local high schools schools, student leaders, volunteers, videos (high school survival tips, etc.), and other fun/inclusive activities to make our freshmen feel known, loved, and welcome in our ministry.

We are so excited to be at the front end of planning, what could be, one of the most important events we throw all year! We can’t be the only ones rethinking freshmen transition. So here is the question:

What is your ministry doing to transition your incoming freshmen? What worked? What didn’t work? 

Colton [Email||Twitter]

I love summer in Youth Ministry for so many reasons, its the change of gears, its the relational time, its students dropping by the office, I just love it. For our youth group, its high time for events. We have lots going on because after all,there are students around and many have little to do, so lets harness that energy. Between 5 major events, beach hangout days and other small activities our summer calendar has much to offer for students looking for something to do, but there is one weekly event that has taken on a life of its own.

In the city I work in there  are three major high schools and right near all of them in an area commonly know as “uptown” sits a McDonalds location that is always filled with students. Seeing that they are there anyway, we decided two summers ago to launch “Uptown Wednesdays”. From 1-3pm every Wednesday of the summer we meet at McDonalds and if you come we will buy you and ANYONE you bring a soda. Here is what is awesome about that:

Drinks are $1 ($1.12  including tax) – Last week 31 students showed up and the whole event cost $34.72. I can not think of a better way to spend $34 for a two hour youth event.

Outreach: This events is one that so many students bring their friends to in fact last summer multiple students I met in the summer that were guests of our students came to youth and got plugged in because they knew myself and some of our leaders. Building trust and relationships with new students before september is helpful for them to act on the invitation to the group in the fall. This safe off-site space is their territory and thus much more conducive for students to invite their friends to.

Discipleship- Its so great to check in with our students and have some real one on one conversations, ask about their life, how we can pray for them and encourage them. Our regular gather might be off for the summer, but pastoring our students happens every week and happens at McD’s

I fall in love with Youth Ministry again – In the midst of a really busy year and working with adult volunteers and attending staff meetings, I often find myself longing to connect with students and with the size of our group that isn’t always possible. Small relational events remind me of what God has called me to do. It’s those conversations that help me see the world through their eyes, and understand for a moment what its like to be in high school in 2012 and hopefully be a better pastor to them.

-Geoff



Summer time  brings weird scheduling challenges to small churches. Since small churches don’t have a large staff (thus no automatic subs), there are those days where something needs to be planned ‘cuz folks are gonna show up…but regular leadership might not.

Here’s an idea for something to sizzle your small church summer. I borrowed it from myself from an article I wrote for Group about five years ago; I’ve freshened it up, adding in more multi-sensory touches.

 Summer Prayer Stations: Set these stations up around your Sanctuary. Print up Scripture readings to happen at each station. Of course a great (but softly played) sound track always adds to the mood.  Setup the prayer time by  explaining each station, then give folks at least 20-30 minutes to fully participate.

1) SUMMER FLOWERS: As they pick a fragrant flower, have participants thank God for the beautiful things in their life. Make sure there’s something there to give off a flower scent (like a Glades plug in) to involve another sense.  Have them makes a list on flower printed paper.

2) SUMMER SUN: Shine a light behind a picture of a sun to make it glow and have people pray for others to know the Son. Have participants write those names on the picture of the sun or use sun shaped post-its to create an “after the event” prayer reminder.

3) SUMMER BREEZE: Place a fan on low and let it oscillate. As they feel the fan blow, have them think of the times they’ve felt the fresh wind of the Spirit. Attach white streamers or ribbons overhead and allow people to take one to tie onto their car a/c vent as a reminder.

4) SUMMER RAIN: Use a table water fountain and a nature sound machine. As people listen to the sound of the babbling brook or summer rain, have them pray for God to wash away the sins in their lives. If you want to go ALL out, Google rain machines. There are plans online for making it “rain.”

5) SUMMER SAND: When you think of the beach, you think of a refreshing vacation. Place sand in a large low open container. Have people write a sin or struggle in the sand, read the story or the woman caught in adultery and then have them erase their sin. As people touch the sand, ask them to pray for friends who need to be refreshed and restored. Add to the senses by having beach sounds with seagulls softly playing.

6) SUMMER FRUIT: Provide pieces of summer fruit; for ease, look in the frozen section. As each person eats a piece of the tasty fruit, have them pray for God to increase the Fruit of the Spirit in their life. Use lots of fruit and vines as additional visual presentation. Add a fruity scent-sation for smell.

I hope this gives you a spark or two of your own. Be sure to let me know how this works for your group.

Stephanie

 

 

May is a weird month…some can actually feel time? winding down.? Me? Its prep month for the fastest 10 weeks of the year:? Summer. (Otherwise known as “Let’s Fight Over the Bathing Suit Rule Again” season).? ?

Even as I type, 3 suitcases lay side-by-side in my office ? and are filled with the? paraphernalia for 3 diff trips.? By departure time tomorrow, all? will be closed and ready; 1 leaves w/ me and 2 will lean? ready to grab and go during? layovers at Casa Caro.

Your summer is about the same. Youth ministry events splash like MS pool parties into our already crowded calendars. In-between-recovery-time-needed lengthens as the weeks go by. Across the country, sales triple of venti size coffees and Ibuprofen? at convenience stores anywhere near? camp facilities.?

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Because the students are worth it and God is worthy. More authentic spiritual growth happens on a summer trip than at any other time of the year. Its too important… and besides? We like it. Our small groups look forward to? stuff like this all summer when they get the chance to experience a bigger? Body of Christ.? ?

Come on, summer: bring it on! We? are ready to hit your sunny? streets.

Stephanie