Summer is here and “Project Survive and Thrive” is in full effect. This season can be one filled with immense joy and solid ministry, but it can also be a dangerous season for youth pastors. Here are 4 warnings for summer in youth ministry.
1. Don’t sacrifice your soul for productivity.
As you run in a million directions to camps, retreats, mission trips, VBS, random hangouts, organized events, and weekly activities don’t sacrifice your relationship with Christ for productivity. While being everywhere at once and running non-stop until September seems like faithful ministry, a failure to prioritize your faith development and pursuit of Christ will damage your ministry in ways you’ll never know. Furthermore, the ministry that does take place will not be near as fruitful.
Response: Schedule your Quiet Time. What time of day can you be intentional? Pick a study or book that excites you. Partner with another youth pastor for accountability.
2. Don’t sacrifice your family to summer.
If I’m being honest, summers in youth ministry are the hardest on my marriage. Even after nine years of marriage while in youth ministry my wife and I find June and July to be the most straining on our marriage and family. How could it not be? I will be out of town/country 3-4 weeks and when I am in town, my time is consumed with the next youth event/Bible study/hangout.
Response: Calendar date nights and family nights and then honor the commitment. Plan a family vacation or get-away for August or September to refresh and reconnect.
3. More events doesn’t equate to a better ministry.
While some youth ministries scale up in the summer other youth ministries scale down. There is not right or wrong answer to this as it is completely dependent upon your context. In my context, we scale up, but this doesn’t include adding a ton of new stuff to the weekly calendar.
Rather than simply adding more activities, we scale up our regular events, and then pepper in a few Bible studies lead by our college interns. Adding more events to you calendar does not mean you are doing better ministry. In fact, adding more to your plate may cause attrition in the quality of your ministry. I would rather do a few things well than a lot of things mediocre.
Response: Have you planned to much? Do you need to scale back? Can you scale back? How will you focus on quality and stop worrying about quantity?
4. Don’t lose sight of your fall calendar.
Summer will fly by. You will look back two and a half months from now and wonder where the time went. If you fail to prepare for the fall, you will be scrambling when back to school arrives. My team is laying the ground work for our Fall Retreat and will use August to finalize the fall details. Furthermore, what does your communication to parents and students look like as you prepare for the new school year? What is your plan for Promotion Sunday? How will you re-launch and communicate your weekly events? Don’t let these things sneak up on you!
Response: Plan a brainstorming session with your team to talk through these details. Are you a lone ranger youth worker, start by building a team that can help you look ahead!
David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava, Ben & Madelyn, Student Pastor at The Fellowship in Round Rock, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.