5 Tips for Maximizing Summertime Student Ministry
The countdown to the end of the school year has officially begun! It’s almost time for summertime playlists, lazy days at the pool, road trips with friends and family vacations. Maximizing our time with students during the summertime is no easy task. A student without a school schedule is like trying to wrangle a wild beast in an uncharted desert. One never knows their next move. How do those of us in student ministry make the most of summertime, while giving students the freedom and space they need to enjoy a much-needed break from school?
1. Dig into what they love.
Knowing our students is where it all starts. Our ministries must revolve around the students to whom we minister. Easy enough, right? Not really. We must guard against “scheduling ruts” and “doing what we’ve always done.” Recycling old calendars is easy and it doesn’t take much work. If we want to maximize our summer days, we must plan activities, events and group adventures our students are sure to love. If your students love camp, plan camp. If your students’ passion is missions, plan a mission trip. What you do is irrelevant if you are plugging into your students and connecting them to Jesus Christ.
2. Plan your work and work your plan.
Our senior pastor has frequently used this phrase when leading our church staff. Student ministers are typically the worst at planning ahead, and we should be the best! Our parents are counting on us to plan, prepare and communicate with them. If they know what’s going on, their students are more likely to participate. Set your dates, put them on paper and share them with your student ministry community – parents, students, leaders and volunteers. It holds you accountable and gives you goals to work towards. Communicate any changes as they come up. You’ll be a hero if you master this early in your ministry.
3. Challenge your students.
Raise the bar this summer. Plan at least one activity that pushes your students to reach beyond their current skill set or do something they’ve never done before. For the first time, our high school ministry is taking part in a group mission trip located twelve hours from home. If sleeping on an air mattress for six nights isn’t enough to challenge our students, traveling together for twelve hours in church vans will put the best of them to the test. Most of our students don’t regularly take part in out-of-state mission work. This summer, I’m challenging them to think beyond themselves and grow in a new way. I believe by doing so they will step outside their normal rhythms and experience Jesus in new and exciting ways.
4. Maintain a good rhythm.
Whether you meet on Wednesdays, Sundays or have small groups throughout the week, resist the urge to cancel during the summer months. Students want to know they have a safe place to come learn about Jesus and connect with their peers. Sure, numbers will drop from time to time. But be there. Teach the lesson. Play the game. Keep it going. You’ll be amazed what consistency will do for your ministry.
5. Have fun together.
Summer is a great time to plan a last-minute trip to the drive-in movie theater to catch a new release. Maybe you live close enough to a ball park to grab cheap seats for a late-night ballgame. The Fourth of July provides an excellent backdrop for free entertainment with a van full of students, and an opportunity for fellowship. Don’t forget opportunities for intergenerational growth – let older church members teach students how to make ice cream from scratch. They’ll be grateful! Invest in your local town or city festivals by offering to paint faces, hand out free balloons or give away water bottles.
Sara Robinson is the Director of Student Ministries at First Baptist Somerset, KY. She enjoys helping students grow to their fullest potential in their spiritual lives, leadership development and how they impact communities. A good cup of coffee is always within reach. You can connect with Sara on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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.