Summer is an interesting time for moms and dads. School is finally out, students are finding themselves with lots of free time on their hands, and parents are wondering what their kids are going to get into.
Summer is also a time when our student ministries are ramping up for some of the largest ministry events that we will do all year. This creates a great opportunity to minister to parents in a unique way that doesn't present itself the rest of the year.
Here are three ways that you can minister to your parents during the summer:
1. Be understanding. The summer can become a great opportunity to engage students in ministry as you plan camps and mission trips that they will participate in. One way that you can minister to parents is to understand the financial burden that your ministry may place them under.
Have you ever taken the time to look at the financial cost to the parent of what you do in a given year of student ministry? Let's just look at the summer: When I served at Tulip Grove as interim student minister we took our students to Centrifuge, which was $300. We also had a youth choir mission trip, which was another $300. We had several other trips that totaled another $200.
Did the students have a great time? You bet. Did the parents love that their students were involved in ministry most of the summer? Of course. But that was $800 that we were asking parents to come up with. And several of our families had multiple students in the group.
We had families that had to pick either camp or choir tour that summer. I didn't like that because I wanted the students to go to everything, but it was reality. Don't place undue pressure on your parents when they have to make tough financial decisions. Love them, support them and, if your church allows, provide opportunities for students to raise money to help defer some of the cost.
2. Stay connected. As summer brings great opportunity for ministry, it also provides time for students to engage in other interests. There is probably not a youth ministry meeting that we have at LifeWay that a youth pastor will not ask about how to deal with parents who keep their students on the road with a travel sport.
Many parents take advantage of the summer and use that time to help their students develop skills that could lead them to college scholarship opportunities. Now I know what you are thinking as you read this: No. 1, they should be at church, and No. 2, they don't have a chance at getting a college scholarship. While there may be some truth in that thought, the reality is that neither choices are our decisions to make. As the primary spiritual developer, a parent must make those choices on behalf of their students.
It is not our job to judge those parents or the students but to minister to them. Take advantage of this time to minister and stay connected to those students. If you know a student will be out for an extended period of time, then equip them while they are gone.
Make sure they have devotional material that they can use while they are traveling and resource parents to lead devotions if they are going be with their students. Nothing will minister to a parent more than seeing you support their decisions with their students and loving on their kids while they are out.
3. Keep students engaged. The summer months have become a great time to give some of our volunteers some needed time off. While this is becoming more and more common, I would encourage you to not let off of the gas. The summer is a great time to keep students involved and engaged in ministry.
You may have a limited number of youth workers and find that they need some time off. It is possible to give your workers a break while still doing ministry with your students. If you have a gym, offer some game days during the week. Plan missions opportunities during the week. Even if it's just meeting students for lunch on a given day during the week, take advantage of them being out of school and use that time to keep students connected to your ministry. Parents know that their students will have a lot of free time during the summer months. Minister to them by providing opportunities for their students to stay engaged and connected to ministry.
Some of my fondest memories of growing up came out of the summer months. Make sure that you are using this time wisely and begin to view it as a great time to connect with and minister to parents.
Jeff Pratt is the Director of FUGE Camps. For the original article, visit lifeway.com.
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