Summer is B.U.S.Y.
Rather than worrying about how you will make time for everything, take a look at all the NEW opportunities you have to connect this summer. For example, this past week, I was the morning speaker for our Kids Camp where our students served. Was I busy with speaking and other responsibilities? Absolutely. However, I was able to spend time hanging out with our students that I would have never been able to have if it were not for our summer schedule. So, whatever your summer schedule looks like, commit to staying connected with your students. Here are a few ways on what that could look like…
I love to serve in different ministries in my church when I have the time and opportunity. Over the summer, I typically have a little bit more time to do that. Many of our students are busy serving in our worship ministry and kids ministry over the summer. A great way for me to connect with our students is to serve where they are serving. This is a great way for me to watch God work through them, a way for me to serve them and with them. On a side note, this is also a great time to meet parents and other adults that are outside of your ministry and share with them what God is doing through your ministry and maybe even recruit new leaders :)
WEEKLY BIBLE STUDY
In our ministry, our weekly service is on Wednesday night. When school lets out in May, we shut down our Wednesday night service. This is to give leaders a break, allow our students to serve in other things going on during the summer, and we have a lot of people out with vacations. During the summer, we do gender specific Bible studies. This summer, I am doing a Middle School guys Bible study from 1:30pm-3pm. This will include Bible study and time in our gym to play basketball. I am always surprised at the number of students who really want to be in a Bible study during the summer, so they can continue to learn and grow. Sometimes I may dread the thought of another Bible study, but I always leave feeling so encouraged and thankful to have students who take their faith serious!
Each summer, we do a local mission trip for our Middle School students. We spend the night in the church and serve in local ministries in our city. This mission trip is huge at building relationships with students and developing the habit for students to learn to serve where God has placed them. There are several organizations that will plan an entire mission trip week for you, or you can stay local. (If you want to hear what we do for our students I’d be happy to share that with you and how we make it work)
This is one of the biggest things we do over the summer. Students are away from distractions at home and are planted in a week long environment that is designed to help challenge them in their walk with Christ. I know of several youth pastors who plan their own camp or go to different organizations out there who put on amazing camps for a decent price. In my experience at summer camps, the door is wide open for students to encourage each other, create deeper community, and time for you as the youth pastor to have spiritual conversations with them. I love summer camp so much, but I love even more what God does in and through our students afterwards.
GET OUT OF THE OFFICE
Get out and be where your students are. Go see them and hang out with them outside of the church. The summer is a great time to get back on track with relationships and connecting with students while having FUN!
CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is a great, easy, and inexpensive way to connect with students and reach new ones. However, look for new and creative ways to connect with them through social media. Make sure you are connecting with them on social media but be willing to try something new. Consider trying a poll, question, or trivia post that gets them to engage and drop some type of comment on the post. For example, “What is one thing you are most excited about doing this summer at church? Drop a comment below and we’ll pick one comment and feature them on our Instagram.” Students are at home a lot over the summer and bored a lot…this means they are spending WAY more time on social media than normal. Find a way to use that to your advantage!
There are so many ways to CONNECT with students over the summer. These are just a few that work in my context. Take advantage of the extra time you have with no school! If you want to chat about summer plans or schedules, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Hargrove is Middle School Pastor at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, Ga. He loves working with middle schoolers and is passionate about seeing them take their next step towards Jesus. He is married to Carrie and they have a one year old daughter. His favorite shows are The Office and Parks and Rec.