Help, it’s halfway through summer and I don’t know what I’m gonna do!!! If that’s you, here are some thoughts on going deeper with students through summer.
Remember: disciples must follow.
Summer is a great time to dig into discipleship, but remember, with any personal or spiritual growth that happens, you have to let them do their own work. With discipleship, this means they have to be doing the work of allowing Jesus to mold and shape them into his image through their disciplined life of faith. Not that it’s mega-hard work all the time, but you can’t become the student’s personal Holy Spirit and take on the responsibility for their sanctification.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)
They have to work it out with God. So all things should point toward encouraging that in them over the summer.
Keep it basic.
We do camps as our main relationship builders and discipleship points. But what do you do the rest of summer? Keep it simple and spend time with students. The thing I love most about summer is getting to hang out with my students and letting them be part of my life outside of church. That’s when they see the lifestyle of a disciple.
Bring students with you.
What are you doing all week? Invite students along. If you are full-time or have any office hours, invite students to come be part of a day in the life of their youth pastor. I am working out different times to have students work along side me this summer so that they are part of what we do and so we do it together. That’s how the disciples learned from Jesus: they didn’t take classes, they just followed him around and He brought them in on it while He did ministry.
Simple fun events.
We have hang time on Wednesday nights throughout the summer. This is where we just open up and play games instead of holding services. We throw some frisbee and stuff outside, play some foosball, and have apples to apples or crazy games of spoons inside. Every year, we have a few new students who stick around through fall after building relationships all summer. This is a simple event that literally requires nothing but showing up.
We live near Lake Tahoe, so we have Tahoe Thursdays for a month after camps are done. We get together with other youth groups and meet at the lake for a fun day in the sun. It’s about 45 min drive and we always have some great conversations after getting to know the students at the beach.
We plan a trip toward the end of summer to our local AAA ball club, the Reno Aces. This one costs a little money, but we found a night and a group rate so we get hotdog, refillable soda in a collectable cup, ticket, and a free hat. It’s always a great time.
As we do these fun events, we get a chance to be in their lives and speak into them. They get a chance to see us live as Christ-followers while driving, playing, eating, and cheering for the team.
Keeping Jesus in the mix.
Since students have more free time on their hands, I’ll push Bible reading plans a little harder. I’ll challenge them to keep up with me on a YouVersion plan on the Bible app and chat about their response to the scriptures. A great one I’ve found is the E-100 plan. Our church did this one a while ago, and it’s cool: 100 essential passages of scripture in 100 days. Get them started now and finish up during school. That should help get them in a habit to pick up a full year plan by the beginning of the year.
Form a summer small group. I have a small group that runs before school through the year. We pushed the time back a couple hours for summer, but we get to take our time and talk about Jesus and life together. It’s great! Right now my guys use the Multiply stuff by Francis Chan and David Platt. It’s really simple, free access online, and they are really loving it.
Other stuff we don’t do.
I know a lot of people run mission trips over summer. We don’t. Nothing against them. That might be something great in our future, but at this time, we aren’t doing them. We do have one during Spring Break and that’s good for us for now.
We don’t stress too hard over packing every minute of the summer with an activity. There are community events and things for people to do. But our church isn’t teen daycare. One thing I don’t need is to kill myself and my family by having something scheduled every single day of summer. Take a break for a minute and spend time with friends and family.
I also don’t work the whole summer. I am taking a vacation with my family before school starts back up. My kids and my wife will appreciate me more if I see them without any ministry distractions.
Not one size fits all.
That’s my summer.
Maybe yours is different. I’d love to hear if any of this sparks something, or if you do something totally different. Hit up the comments and let me know!