Youth ministry has two distinct seasons, a 9 month and a 3 month season. We are entering into the short summer season that is like the fast and furious after coming out of 9 months of a more structured approach to serving teenagers.
I have finally realized that there is a danger in approaching these two seasons in the same way.
The Pitfalls of Summer Ministry-
1. The Golden Calf(s) of summer ministry are often the mission trips or summer camps and for a good reason. From a youth minister’s perspective, these trips have been dreamed about, planned for and heavily marketed throughout a good part of the year. They are exciting or at least we really want them to be. Yet, no matter how you fudge your numbers, there will always be more students back at the ranch than there will be on your trip. In general, we spend a disproportionate time with students and the flashier and more expensive trips get a huge amount of attention, no matter how formative they are. (This realization came to me after doing 5 trips in a summer on top of some family time away).
The Benefits of Summer Ministry- Summer is a great time to contact the busy students, those on the fringe and the group that will be entering your program the upcoming fall. We often fight throughout the school year to hangout with students and the summer makes this so much easier!! I have found that structuring my contact work and events for the 3 month short season is more crucial than the 9 month season.
1. Make a strategic list of students that you want to be intentional with in the next few weeks. Without a game plan, you will hang out with 10% of the students 100% of the time.
2. I have finally learned that summer events don’t have to be huge productions and the more laid back they are, the more relational fruit you will see.
3. Get into work early in the summer!!! Knock out those emails, lessons and phone calls while your flock is sleeping.
I actually love the fact that youth ministry has two seasons with two different approaches. And for the record, I think camps and mission trips are often key catalysts in our spiritual journey and we need them in the mix. But, remember that these summer trips serve as a few clubs in the summer golf bag and not the entire set.