Youth Ministry Essentials: The Summer Wind-Down
Do you ever look at the calendar and ask, "Where did it all go?" I know I'm feeling that, especially as September begins to loom ever closer. Before we know it, our students will be climbing the steps of those bright yellow buses, and you'll be setting up for your mid-week breakfast and Bible study.
Summer will be nothing but memories and a couple stacks of photos that you still need to hang on the bulletin board. And you'll ask yourself, "Where did it all go?" It seems to be that time moves faster and faster with every passing year. Summer doesn't seem as long as it once was.
All those plans, ideas, and intentions to fill your summer with fun, relationships, and adventure are all but gone. Summer is just about over. The new school year is nipping at your heels. And it's time to get ready for the new season of ministry. But before we jump into the black and white marble composition notebooks, let's pause for a few minutes and take stock of the situation.
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Good things happened this summer. God did some cool things in the lives of your students. And He even did a little bit of work on you as well, right? So consider these three things as you begin your summer wind down.
Stop. Look Back. Remember.
Before you jump into the new season of ministry, think back on what God did this summer. What students took huge steps in their faith journey? What moved your students to make commitments to Christ? What event impacted you and your students the most? What lessons did you learn as a pastor, follower, friend, leader, husband, wife, etc.? Journal these reflections. God is always working in, around and through us and our students. Sometimes the work is huge. Sometimes the work is small. But know that God is working. By writing these things down, you create a document of God's work that you can look back on later in your ministry or your students lives and say, hey remember that time when God . . .
Share What God Has Done!
Find the highest point in your community and shout at the top of your voice all that God has done this summer! Okay, maybe not. But definitely go and tell people what God has done in your ministry, the lives of your students, and in you! Talk with parents, your pastor, elders, other students, the sweet older lady who baked 25 dozen cookies for your trip, the barista at Starbucks, and the guy who cuts your hair! Did Johnny make a commitment to the Lord? Celebrate that! Did Sarah say she wants to pray about a ministry in missions? Help mom and dad understand what she experienced! Too many people don't see all the ways God is at work in our lives. Don't let it be because we're not telling people enough of what God is doing in our ministries.
Take Time To Say Thank You To God
If you're like me, you're chomping at the bit to get things going again; to fill your youth room with students, to hang out at Friday night's football game, and engage your teens in great Theological debates. (I can dream, can't I?) But before we go all crazy, let's take some time to say thanks. To truly be thankful. September is exciting, but so is what you just experienced this summer. God has given you wonderful adventures, unforgettable joys, rich and tender moments, difficulties that stretched you, and mountain top highs you never want to loose. Thank Him. Thank Him for all He has done. Celebrate with Him. Cry over those times of challenge and joy. Rejoice in the fact that we have a loving God who shares life with us and delights in us become more like His Son!
The Fall is coming. And we need to be ready! But, if we're not careful, we can miss what God has done this Summer because we're too busy getting ready for what's next. Whatever your summer looked like, mission trips, summer camps, day trips, cook outs, pool parties, VBS . . . I pray that God blessed and enriched your ministry and that your summer wind down is one with much celebration.
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