I Know What I Did Last Summer

Tim Balow
August 27th, 2018

Each summer is unique based on your event plans, mission trip location, student make-up, and much more.  But as you gain experience and traction in your ministry, God teaches you valuable lessons.  You begin to learn the “tricks of the trade” in some ways that you want to repeat the following summer, and those blunders you want to remember to never do again (i.e. Two open gym days per week, and by the 3rd week, that’s what you have, a completely OPEN gym of nobody). 

Here are 5 things I’m glad I did this summer.  Things that I’ll be tucking in my ministry memory bank for next summer.

  1. Hello Neighbor.  Over the years, I’ve tried to expand our community outreach.  So last year we decided to pick up trash along the busy street by our church.  This year, we decided to go a little more personal (and safer) route of picking up trash in the parking lots of local businesses.  We purposefully targeted small businesses to show kindness, and to get to know our neighbors.  What a difference!  I met business owners, shared stories, and really made a connection.  Now these aren’t just buildings next to our church, but names and people.  We hope to return to these businesses again and build on this relationship.
  2. Be Social on Social Media.  I’ll be honest, I’m not a big Instagram guy.  Not that I’m against it, I just spend enough time on my phone.  And when it comes to distractions, I’m like the dog on the movie “Up”… “Squirrel!”.  But that doesn’t mean the students feel the same way.  This is how they communicate.  Let me give you an example.  I wanted to see Jurassic World with some students, but didn’t want to make it an official event.  So I told a few student leaders and let them share the idea.  With the power of texting and social media, we had the largest attendance of any event all year.  So I had my students help me register a youth ministry Instagram account.  And you know what I did?  I shared the login and password with many of my student leaders.  So I wouldn’t have to be the one posting all the time.  They can share pictures and event invites.  Why didn’t I think of this sooner?  Your students are your best promoters, so give them the power!
  3. Summer Break Isn’t Just For Schools.  I’ve heard the argument to “ramp up” during the summer because teens have more time.  Here’s the schedule my summer includes:  high school mission trip, junior high mission project, vacation Bible school, teen leadership, and soccer camp.  You know what these things have in common?  They take up a whole week’s time and require preparation and time.  Why not take a break from regular meeting times, and build in your goals and teaching times with these lengthy programs already built into your summer.  That way, you give your adult leaders a break, you still build relationships and disciple teens, but you don’t have to scramble to get in lesson preparation every week. 
  4. Be Intentional.  Be Be Intentional.  Building off the previous point.  If you schedule “slows down” in terms of meeting times, then you have to be intentional in the times you have with students.  Have intentional conversations on Sunday.  Keep in touch with students and know what is going on in their lives.  Grab a milkshake or a coffee with a couple teens during the week, when ordinarily school and homework would not allow it.
  5. All Aboard the Intern-ship.  We can joke about having an intern to get you coffee and pick up your dry cleaning.  But summer interns are so much more than an errand runner.  You get the chance to disciple and pour into a young person’s life who may desire to go into full time ministry.  Now if that doesn’t get your blood pumping, maybe you should get your aortas checked out.  This is one of my favorite parts of ministry.  Although it may be a little more work for you in some ways, it is well worth your time.


Used with Permission From Jeff Beckley

Tim Balow

Youth Specialties exists to elevate the role of youth ministry and the youth worker to grow the faith of the next generation.

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