When you think about that phrase – what comes to mind? EPIC? YOLO? Fail? Depressing? Too Short? Good riddance?
Which is it?
No matter what you did this summer or how you feel about it – it is evident me that almost everyone has a different feeling or experience when it comes to summer. In Student Ministry – you get to watch a number of various scenarios play out amongst your students. Some good, some bad, some hard to watch, so worthy of celebrating. I want to lay out 6 different scenarios that I (and other Youth Pastors) have seen this summer – and point to some of the JOYS and DIFFICULTIES that post-summer ministry represents.
1) The Lost Sheep
The student you saw at your final event or small group of the school year back in May – but have literally not seen ALL Summer. They haven’t posted on facebook, tweeted, instagrammed, or even sent you a hand-written letter. You wonder how in the world this has happend or how it’s possible – especially since you can’t seem to hide even on vacation.
2) Gone to Grandma’s
It seems like every year I have a few students who get shipped off to Grandma’s for the summer. At first they don’t seem to mind – because they get spoiled at Grandma’s house. Soon though – you start seeing their desperate posts on Facebook “SAVE ME – I SMELL LIKE MOTH BALLS!” and you see them playing with sticks in a creek bed (Old School). Thank God for their smart phone – or they couldn’t stay connected at all.
3) YOLO (for self)
You Only Live Once – so you better make stupid decisions, be in a stupor all summer, and blow off every responsibility so you can YOLO with all your other friends at the lake. It’s hard to watch sometimes with the students who dump their relationship with Christ or whatever progress they have made for one summer of BLISS. Solomon would just say, “Meaningless – it’s all Meaningless” to them, but God’s grace is sufficient.
4) The “Yes, I’ll be there if…”
We all know these students who will be faithful as long as there is not something ELSE going on. Oh, I couldn’t be there, because my friends invited me to a movie or I went to get a snow-cone or er, my contact lens fell out (maybe an exaggeration). But, there is ALWAYS something else.
5) The Gifted and Talented
There is literally a camp for everything these days. Sure there is Church Camp. But now, there is literally a camp for any and every interest you might have – and how crazy is it that Parents will shell out the cash to send their kids to each and every one of these camps. Then there are the camps through the school for basketball, volleyball, football, band, theatre, acting, dancing, basket weaving, cpr training, dolphin riding, crafting, and the list goes on and on. Kids are busy – but these kids take it to a whole new level.
6) YOLO (for Christ)
Obviously the type of student every Youth Pastor wants. It doesn’t matter what is happening at the church – they are there. Church Camp, Mission Trip, Service Project, Bible Study, Scripture Memory, Cleaning the Youth Pastors Office, random disc golf game, Batman movie marathon, etc. They wanted to be intentional about surrounding themselves with the Word of God and fellow believers – and the fruit from that showed as they became closer to the heart of God this summer.
Our Ministry Remains…
We are called to be Shepherds, Ministers, Ambassadors, Teachers, Directors, Evangelists, Pastors to ALL of these students. We some how have to take a collection of experiences, spiritual maturities, levels of commitment and interest and introduce (or re-introduce) them to the saving love, grace, and power of the Gospel of Christ. We need to present the gospel and let the Spirit do the work. Do NOT try conviction, manipulation, or gimmicks to bring the students back. Let’s draw them in with the TRUTH – the only thing that will satisfy their souls, quench their thirst, and bring them complete joy and fullness of life!
“For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
1 Corinthians 9:16