Summer is great, the perfect time for a little change of pace. For many in student ministry summer affords us the time to switch things up and do things a little differently. We hang out with students throughout the day, meet them for lunch, enjoy pool parties, and back yard cook outs. It’s relaxed. It’s fun. It’s restful.
I always loved student ministry in the summer. One of the reasons I loved it was because it gave me the opportunity to dream, plan, and get ready for the fall! For years our student calendar came to a close at the end of July. This left August for me; to vacation, to rest, and to get ready for the new school year.
As I think about the approaching fall, I’m reminded of a few good connections to make in August to help prepare for the new season of ministry.
Adult Leadership Meeting
Starting the new school year off on the same foot as your volunteers is super important. Early August is an ideal time to reconnect with your adult leadership team. For me, this meeting is an opportunity to cast the vision for the year. Whatever theme or themes we were working through for that year and our goals for the theme(s) were shared and explained so that the leadership team had time to buy into whatever the vision was. I would share the calendar for the entire year. This gave my leaders the heads up as to when I would need the help for events and activities that were outside our regular weekly gatherings. Remember, they have a life outside the ministry. They might need time to adjust their schedules.
Student Leadership Meeting
This one can be a little tricky, but with a little advanced planning you can pull it off. Set aside a couple days in early August to meet with your student leaders. As you get ready to kick off the fall season, you will want the support and enthusiasm of your student leaders. Like the adult leaders, you want to be able to share your vision and goals for the year ahead. Let your student leaders in on some of the secret plans. Give them something to get excited about, to look forward to, and think about friends that they would like to see attend future events. While your leadership team might be a great source of hands to help with some of the set-up, clean up, and ancillary part of your ministry, your student leaders are some of your biggest cheerleaders! If you can get them excited about the ministry, they will excite everyone else!
The Parent Meeting
As the youth worker you need the support of parents. Parent meetings are an opportunity for you to share the vision, goals, calendar, needs, and teaching plans with your parent base. When parents know what you are trying to do for their teen, they are often more supportive and responsive to what you are doing. Along with the vision and calendar and needs, I also gave parents the opportunity to ask questions of the ministry, or to share some of the things that they might need help or support with. Student ministry is more than what you do on a Wednesday or Sunday night, it’s also in how you minister to the entire family.
When our kids were younger, were reserved the last two weeks in August as our vacation weeks. We learned very early in our ministry careers that the last couple of weeks in August are the weeks that the schools used to fire up their fall sports teams and marching bands. When this happens, students who participate in these activities are pulled into daily practices and camps that get them ready for whatever sport or event they’re involved in. Getting a hold of a student to hang out with them is difficult or impossible. So we went away. Those two weeks just before everything starts up were two weeks that we could be together as a family and rest. If you can’t get away, at least set aside those two weeks as light duty and focus on caring more for yourself and your family.
However your August shapes up, I hope it is a month of you being reminded of your call to student ministry!
My prayer for you is that God will pour out his love and grace through you as you love and care for students!