7 Ideas for Summer Ministry
Believe it or not, summer is just around the corner and that means it’s time to start planning your summer ministry if you haven’t already! I know some youth programs take the summer off to give leaders a break, but in my opinion, summer provides the greatest opportunity for ministry since students are free throughout the day and don’t have homework and sports taking up a lot of their time. As you begin praying and preparing your summer calendar, consider implementing the following 7 ministry suggestions:
1. Weekly Bible Study
Schedule a weekly Bible study outside of the church building every week throughout the summer. You would be surprised at the number of students who show up because they want to learn from God’s word and they enjoy spending time together. We meet at a local ice cream place every Thursday in the summer and it’s a great time for all of our students. I have observed them enjoying casual conversations about Scripture at a location where they feel relaxed and can snack on summer treats.
2. Summer mission trip
Short-term missions sometimes get a bad rap, but I’m a strong believer that with the right attitude and leadership, they can be a huge boost for your student’s faith, their identity in Christ, and can help develop a unified leadership team among your youth. It’s not too late to sign up for a mission trip with an organization like YouthWorks or Praying Pelican, or you could organize your own mission trip in your community where the students can sleep at church and serve during the day. A mission trip can be a stepping stone for fall ministry, a student’s faith and their future. Short-term missions can lead to long-term faith and ministry growth.
3. Unique midweek services
One of the highlights of our summer is our late night youth and summer kickoff services. A few Wednesdays throughout the summer, we meet later in the evening and will have service from 9-11pm which the students really enjoy. This provides a different environment for learning and I’ve noticed they open up more around a campfire or in this “outside of the normal” structure. We also have a big summer kickoff service early in June outside in the parking lot that includes a cookout, loud worship out in the open, and teaching about the importance of staying connected during the summer.
4. Special weekend event
Scheduling an event that is not camp or a trip, but is still a few days set apart with a Christ-centered focus, can be a low budget/high impact way to get your students connected and to pour into their lives spiritually. A weekend summer retreat or planned event like 30 Hour Famine or Project Disaster is an amazing chance for your students to immerse themselves in a weekend of learning and growing in their faith. As a youth leader, I strive to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to grow closer together in friendship, faith and as a family.
Vacation Bible School isn’t for teenagers! Or is it? Encouraging students to serve and work at your church’s VBS is an awesome way for students to pour back into their local church and minister to the next generation. This also shows the church that teenagers can be responsible, helpful leaders.
6. Guy/Girl retreats
Each summer we do a separate overnight event for guys and girls. Whether it’s a bike trip or a spa night, this is an awesome way to have your adult leaders pour into your students and talk about gender-related struggles and issues. I ask the boys what activities they would like to do and shape the retreat around those suggestions. For example: disc golfing, bike riding, or kayaking. I also ask for the teenage girls’ input and the input of the female adults that will be attending and shape the weekend to be most enjoyable for everyone. As a male leader, I do not attend the girls’ weekend but send my awesome female adult leaders and provide everything they need to make it successful.
7. Casual weekly discipleship
I get together weekly with a group of guys and play disc golf and the ministry that happens there through conversation is amazing. I prompt conversation based on social media accountability, purity and good sportsmanship. Surprisingly, there are boys in my youth ministry that will show up to this that would never come to a Bible study.
There are so many other options out there for summer ministry and these are just a few top suggestions that I have found to be successful. Take advantage of the time these 3 months of no school provide. Pour into your students and connect them to Jesus. Have an awesome summer that will transition to a fruitful fall!
Adam Ansel is a youth pastor in Yankton, South Dakota and has served on the mission field in East Africa. He’s been in ministry for over 15 years, and in his spare time enjoys disc golf and a good cup of coffee. You can connect with Adam on Instagram and Twitter @adamansel and Facebook @adamwansel.
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.