The team of us who write this column all unanimously love being on campus and are huge advocates for all shapes and sizes of campus ministry. That being said, we’d also admit one giant shortcoming with on-campus ministry: students are not always in school.
There isn’t much we can do about it, but campus ministry almost vanishes during the summer. So what do we do during this summer season?
I will admit, this is becoming less and less a problem as “summer break” keeps shrinking year after year. When I was in high school (not to get nostalgic), summer break was 3-months long. Since I did not go to church until my junior year in high school, I didn’t have summer camp and summer events to go to. School was out and so I had a lot of time to fill. Most of my summers were filled with vacations, family visits, sleepovers, and finding ways to break rules without getting caught. Now summer break is just mid-June to the second week in August, which is barely enough time for students to begin a life of crime.
So what can youth workers who love campus ministry do during these months?
My summers are devoted to three tasks: connecting, planning… and resting.
Continue connecting with kids during the summer. If we’ve been doing ministry correctly, the campus isn’t our only connection point with kids. Yes, it might be the central hub where we first met kids and now connect with them regularly, but hopefully we’ve opened up other doorways of communication with them as well. I often use texting, Facebook, and Instagram. But these are limited in scope. Many youth workers have Bible studies or other venues that continue through the summer. I am blessed this summer to have a school club where I’ll connect with several teachers and students throughout the summer and strategize how to be even better next school year… which leads to my second task…
Use the summer months to strategize, reflect and plan ahead. I know the summer is a great time for me to take time step back and prayerfully ask important questions: How do I see God at work at schools? How do I see God at work in youth group? Are there ways that I can better co-operate with Him? Am I too rigid or too lax? Do I have enough leaders and partners in ministry or am I trying to do things alone? How am I doing living out my calling from God? What is God saying to me? What am I going to do about it?
This can also be a time where youth workers can gather their leadership teams for training, bonding and planning.
But whatever you do, don’t forget to…
Some youth workers think they can’t afford to slow down. Let me implore you, we can’t afford NOT to slow down. Our Western culture demands that we always work efficiently and effectively, along with a dose of go, Go, GO! We need to stop and recognize the potential for burnout.
In Genesis, humankind was created on the 6th day and on the 7th day all of creation rested. That sounds a little backward right? Humans had just been created; surely they had enough energy to get to work but that is not the pattern that God set for them. God had them rest, then work. Work out of their rest, rather than rest from their work. And Jesus calls us to abide in Him, for without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). He modeled this himself when he would take several hours out of his day to go off by himself and pray. I am not suggesting these are revolutionary ideas, I am merely suggesting we find times and seasons to put them into practice.
The summer season is a great time to connect and plan, but it’s also a natural time of rest and of taking a break in our culture.
How can you use this to your advantage?
is the Area Campus Director with Youth for Christ/Campus Life in the Sacramento area. In Paul's years working with both church and parachurch, he always has made visiting the local campus a priority. Paul is on campus weekly, and he thinks you should be too! Feel free to use the comment feature in these articles to dialogue with Paul, or use our CONTACT US page to contact him with a specific question.