Enjoying Fall, Instead of Tripping All Over It
Youth ministry follows an interesting cycle of seasons, all of which seem busy in their own ways.
We might be liturgically busy in the season of lent and Easter, and when we finally get a breather we realize its already time for graduations, senior Sundays and then summer comes barreling in the way it does every year. Its no wonder that, for some of us, fall may catch us completely off guard. We know its coming, but after the whirlwind that is summer trips, camps, and messy games, fall sometimes seems to come out of nowhere.
I love fall. Not only because its time for Salted Caramel Mochas at Starbucks, but because of what I get to do with my students in the fall. However, if I let the summer totally take over my life, and I don’t prepare myself for the fall season, then its going to be Christmas faster than you can say “pumpkin spice everything! Here are some of my tips for enjoying the fall.
Take a Break:
I mean it, schedule a break between summer programming and when school starts. I know you might have a huge back to school bash, or a fall kick off, but get that planning done ahead of time and take some time off. Even if all you do in that time is shop for your own kids school supplies, at least its time to spend with your family, or refreshing your own spirit. We can’t pour into our students when we have emptied everything we have over the summer. So in your planning, schedule some time off so you’ll be refreshed and ready to go!
You Can’t Do it All:
I watch youth ministers try to do everything during the school year. They try to go to every game, competition, recital, and concert the season offers. The problem with this is that none of the other expectations of our roles go away during this time. We still have staff meetings, newsletter articles, lesson planning, Sunday services and youth group. Remember to utilize the other members of the body of Christ when supporting your students. Sit down with your volunteer team (or in lieu of a team, people at church who love teenagers) and divide up the schedules of your students. Let someone else go to a volleyball game and cheer on the Jr High girls, or ask a Sunday School class to consider making spirit bags for the marching band kids.
Relational ministry doesn’t mean we as youth ministers have all of the relationships, it means we help build many relationships throughout the church and community. Then go enjoy the occasional football game or band concert, without worrying that you are spending too much time away from home.
Don’t Forget the Fun:
Sometimes we come down off of the summer high and we go straight into fall programming just like its school. We might schedule something fun around halloween, but sometimes we all get so busy we forget to have fun with each other. Students are shuttled from activity to activity during the school year, and ultimately it can get boring and exhausting. Remind them that church isn’t just another activity, it is a place where the people of God gather together to experience what God is doing here and now. God is present not only in the learning, but in the fun and the laughter of your students, so leave some room open for fun in your fall.
As we have entered into another school year, I hope you’ll take some time to see how great fall can be for your ministry.
SARA GALYON is the Episcopal Youth Community Director for St Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Madison, AL. She has been working with youth in some capacity for 15 years, and has an MA in Youth Ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary. She is a wife to a fellow youth minister, mom to two boys and two dogs, and underfunded world traveler.
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.