Girl-reading-book-smallEven though school has not let out here in Maryland, we are already in summer mode. That doesn’t mean we shut things down or fill our days up with summer camps and events; we simply alter our schedule.

We tone down programming, keep things simple and maintain our pace. The goal in summer is to prepare for the fall while staying in touch with the teens.

Your summers are so important. How you approach them will determine your readiness for the fall. There is a tendency by many youth ministers to either overload their schedule or completely check out. If you are going to do youth ministry for the long haul, you need to treat the summer with the same focus and attention that you do every other season. If you take advantage of this, you’ll find yourself:

  • Building margin. By trimming back some of the bells and whistles of your program, you’ll find yourself preparing less on a week-to-week basis. Take that time to rest, pray and grow as a leader. When fall comes, you’ll be more conditioned and ready to take on its grueling pace.
  • Keeping momentum. While you want to build margin, you don’t want to completely stop what you are doing. Make sure what you do over the summer is consistent and scheduled. By maintaining a little bit of a pace, you can ensure a smoother transition into fall.  
  • Taking ministry to a new level. With the margin you are building, you can also experiment with a few activities and projects that would be too difficult to pull off in the fall. Think big and don’t fear failure. Summer is a time to cut loose.
  • Investing in leaders. During the grind of the year, it’s hard to find time to get to know your leaders. Use the margin that most people have to hang out and get to know one another. Take them out for coffee, catch a ball game or invite them over for a barbecue. Make the summer relational.

Don’t waste your summer by over-planning or completely checking out. Develop a strategy, and take advantage of summer's laid-back feeling. By capitalizing on the summer, you’ll be more ready for the fall.

What do you do with your summers? Share your comments below.

Chris Wesley is the director of student ministry at the Roman Catholic parish church of the Nativity in Timonium, Md. Connect with Chris on Twitter at @chrisrwesley.

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