As part of a special summer series, Alabama youth ministers will be writing about various topics that are relevant to those involved in Student Ministries in any roles.
Our second guest is Tim Bates, minister of youth and children at Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Ozark.
Summer and youth ministry can be a lot of fun, but they can also be a lull.
Some churches do okay through the summers while others thrive. Some even take the summer off.
Here are some ideas that have been helpful for me in having an awesome summer for youth ministry.
- Youth Camp: When I was a youth, no other single youth event made an impact on my life than camp. As a youth minister, I’ve seen it do the same in my youth. There is something special about getting away for a few days and leaving behind the noise of the world so that we can hear from God. There are big camps and small; each can make a huge impact.
- Youth Day: Each year after camp we “take over” the church. Youth teach all the Sunday School classes and lead in the worship service, handling everything from the welcome to the offering. I usually preach, but I’ve had a spiritually mature youth do it. The pastor receives the invitation. In the evening, we share testimonies.
- Mission Projects: Summer allows to do a bit more with missions. We do this at camp, in town projects and by hitting the International Seafarers Center in Mobile.
- YEC: The Alabama Baptist Youth Evangelism Conference is a great way to end the summer. It’s all about evangelism: great speakers who connect the Gospel to the kids you bring as well as motivate and equip them to go and share. Someone gets saved from my group almost every year.
- Youth VBS: It’s not just for kids; youth love having their own VBS. Do it the same time as your regular VBS or at different times (a different week or spread out over Wednesdays). We meet Sunday through Thursday for about three hours each night. Different people lead teaching, worship, food and recreation (crafts, too, if we feel like they are good ones). We often travel to a different location each night. Our youth help weekday mornings with children’s VBS.
- Community Game Nights: We kick the summer off on a Wednesday night with the other youth groups in town. We meet at a field in town, play games and then have pizza and a devotion.
- Youth Led Service: Let youth lead. Get one to do some songs and one to bring a message. It’s good for them, and they’ll appreciate what you do all the more.
- Fun: Having some fun on a Wednesday or Sunday night during the summer can be a good thing. We’ve had a Water Night where we rent blowups or had an eating contest. We focus on the fun, but make sure to give them some content while we have them there.
- Welcome New Youth: Whether it’s the beginning of summer or the end, make a special time to welcome those youth that are moving up. Our youth group starts at 7th grade, and we let them move up in June. We have a breakfast for all youth and their families to welcome them on the first Sunday in June. It is in the youth room right before Sunday School. In July we do a lock-in called the 7/8 Event. It is for 7th and 8th graders only from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. The date is either 7/8, 7/18, or 7/28 (depending on which works for us each year), and we use college students to lead a short Bible study every other hour through the night with games and food in between.
- Bible Study: Nothing substitutes for great Bible Study. The real reason we meet together is to worship Christ together and to grow in Christ together. Try a special Bible Study just for the summer on Wednesday or Sunday nights. I would also suggest taking some of your more mature youth (or some willing to grow) and give them some extra Bible Study and accountability in a small group. Meet on a weeknight or an afternoon.
Summer doesn’t have to be a lull for your youth ministry. It can be the opposite: a time to grow and prepare your youth to represent the Lord well in the new school year. I’ve seen it send them into this mission fields and start a fire for the kingdom of God. I hope you will, too.