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

Colton Harker —  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.


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.




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.


We don’t want you to be bummed that summer is almost over. We know there’s still time for pool parties, movie nights, and if you’re lucky enough, beach days, but we also know you’re starting to think about what you are going to do this fall. In order to make it a little easier to get the resources you need to get your program going this fall, we have a special for you:

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If you don’t know where to start, or haven’t been to the site in awhile, check out the New Section, there’s lots of great stuff that you might have missed this summer, or if you need to ramp up your small groups we have a Small Group Section to help you out. Also don’t miss this chance to stock up on One Minute Bibles or LIVE Bibles for the school year.

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