3 Ways to Excel This Summer

Jeff Harding
June 8th, 2021

“School’s out for summer!” 

Alice Cooper, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend, sings that line in one of the band’s more prominent hits. “Alice”, whose real name is Vincent Furnier, actually went to my small high school in Phoenix. My freshman year, there was an elderly science teacher on the faculty who apparently had Vincent in his class. I’m sure Mr. Easton would have agreed that teenagers in Vincent’s class and the teenagers in our class had more similarities than we would think. One of them would be expectations for summer.

Those of us in youth ministry have expectations of our own for summer, with many of them potentially being as exhausting as they are exciting. Sure, several of us have interns, youth parent hosts, and an assortment of public entertainment venues to help bring the energy. But if we want to maximize our presence with students this summer, we need to capitalize on some crucial elements of self-care and intentional focus.

Here are 3 ways we can excel as youth workers this summer.


I’ve heard youth workers express how summer is the time when they need to have their “on switch” secured in place. They want to be readily available for spontaneous trips to the lake, for late night shakes, or the theatre to catch a summer blockbuster. Of course, we can’t forget to provide an unsuspecting student with the gift of waking up to toilet paper streaming from their trees. 

While those of us closer in age to the students probably have more bandwidth for that sort of approach, we can all benefit from at least a few days of R&R. Why?

Not only does the summer have added components like camps and mission trips, but we just finished a school year’s worth of programming and discipleship (no small feat). Guess what? Another one will start back up in 10 Sundays, or 8 for some of us. 

Your students have friends, jobs, interns, pools, and *sigh* endless access to technology as ways to spend their time. Oh, and of course, that astonishing summer Bible-reading plan you put together! Get away, unplug, spend time in prayer or sleep on your couch. Give the best you have to your students by giving yourself the best care. Make sure you are spending the time in the Word we tell our students they need. Relax to help you remember that your identity is in Christ, your value in being loved by our Creator, and that neither are based in your work.


Even with summer jobs, vacations, workouts for fall sports, and desired time for anything else, with a little guidance from you, many of your students will have ample amounts of time to invest in the ministry and community.

Every so often, I ask for students’ input regarding elements we don’t have that would garner more interest from their invited friends, or a good project we could do for people in our church body or the community. While we’re probably ready for those spontaneous fun times I mentioned earlier, let’s help our students establish the need for impulsive acts of service as well; which can definitely be fun!

Resetting/redesigning the youth room, yard work, car washes, using donations from those to provide a surprise camp scholarship for someone who really needs it, putting together a gaga ball pit or volleyball court…there are several ways to make a meaningful impact for others while also producing lifetime memories for your students. I promise that adding those experiences to their summer with you will increase their takeaway from the ministry.


With the pandemic having driven most of our teenagers further into isolation than they already were with just their phones, this summer is the absolute prime time to crank your outreach to 11. Depending on your local restrictions and recommendations, do everything you can to offer in-person gatherings. 

Maybe you can give your students a huge discount if they bring friends to a paid event, while giving their friends discounted or free entry as well. Meet up where students and their friends are in the summer, whether it’s the pool they lifeguard at, the yogurt shop where they work, or the taco joint they hit up for the Tuesday special.

Channel that creativity with your students to create events you’ve never done before for a bigger draw.  Set up a drive-in movie in the church parking lot, find some back roads or fields to break the world record for the longest slip and slide, or get donations to setup a 31 flavors ice cream sundae Sunday (see what I did there?).

Remember, every time you can create a moment where you or your students have intentionality while hanging with their unchurched friends is a moment where they can experience the gospel through words and actions. Help them see Jesus by depending on the Spirit to use you for their good and His glory.

I hope those 3 methods can be a catalyst for you to make this the best summer of ministry to date. Oh, one last thing…don’t forget to have plenty of another youth ministry staple on hand.

Duct tape.

Jeff Harding

Jeff is a 17-year youth ministry veteran. He’s a Phoenix native, ASU Sun Devil, Dallas Theological Seminary graduate, and Chipotle fanatic. He currently serves as the Dallas/Ft. Worth Coordinator for the National Network of Youth Ministries, as well as the youth minister at Trinity Fellowship Church in Richardson, TX. You can also hear him on his weekly podcast, Youth Ministry Maverick, at youthministrymaverick.com or wherever you stream podcasts.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.