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Taking A Break: Navigating Summer in Your Youth Ministry

To meet or not to meet.

That is the question so many youth ministries are facing over the summer.

Do we keep chugging along doing business as usual so that we don’t lose momentum? Or do we take a break from the norm and do something different in order to build momentum going into the fall?

I’m sure some of you like the idea of taking a break from the status quo during the summer, but what exactly does that mean? And more importantly, what would you do?

Many student ministries that lack critical mass for a weekly service during the summer opt instead to create four to six special events that really get students excited and inspired to invite their friends.

The idea is that the change of pace will not only make your regular students lean in a little bit over the summer, but that it might provide opportunities for them to invite friends to events as well. And then, after all these students have gotten a taste of what your student ministry is all about over the summer, it will lead to even more growth and excitement when you kick off your normal weekly programming again when school starts back.

Convinced? Great! Well, here are a few things that I’ve seen work well to set apart your summer programming from your normal programming.

  1. Create a name, theme, logo, and brand for your summer programming. This will make it feel like something different for your regular students.
  2. Start teasing your summer theme on your social media about a month before school gets out to build momentum and excitement.
  3. Create a schedule of your summer events and mail it out in the form of a postcard. Focus on getting the dates out there first and let the details come later.
  4. If at all possible, keep your summer events on the same night of the week that you usually meet. That will help you avoid any scheduling conflict or confusion.

Variety is king. So, try all different kinds of events that keep your students interested and appeal to different demographics in your community.

Here are 10 summer events that I’ve seen work well to build momentum over your summer break.

  1. Pool Parties. The more floats in the pool, the better. And don’t forget to set up a sound system that makes the neighbors wonder what’s up.
  2. Paintball or Laser Tag. Meet up at a local place for a paintball or laser tag battle royale. Side note: Paintball hurts; be ready.
  3. Color Wars. These are always fun. Just make sure you find a grassy field so you don’t have to spend the next week power washing your church parking lot.
  4. Giant Slip-N-Slide. Big Hill + Plastic + Water + Soap + Inflatables + Drone = videos you won’t be able to stop your students from sharing on Instagram.
  5. Coffee Shop Takeover. Meet at the place in your community that has great live music (or provide it yourself!) and buy coffee for everybody there.
  6. Basketball or Dodgeball Tournament. Who doesn’t love a good sporting event? Just don’t forget the matching headbands and knee high striped tube socks to complete the look.
  7. Amazing Race. Post clues and locations for your students to visit, and then watch the funny pics start rolling in. The Eventzee app makes this classic game a cinch to pull off.
  8. The Ole Ball Game. There’s nothing like taking over the cheap seats down at the local minor league baseball stadium. Plus baseball is boring, so it gives your Small Group Leaders plenty of time to talk with and connect with their students.
  9. Wacky World Cup. Think soccer match in crazy costumes. Trust me, it’s awesome! Now stop laughing and start planning.
  10. DJ Dance Party. Lights. Music. Foam. Balloons. Somebody fun on the mic. It’s a literal can’t miss for your students.

Make sure that you are capturing the info of everyone that rotates through your events all summer. The whole point is to build momentum and get as many people as possible to your Back to School Bash when your weekly programming starts back.

Have fun! And have a great summer!

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