Summer is coming. Some youth workers read the previous sentence and have a sense of excitement over what the summer months will hold. Others are overwhelmed by anxiety not knowing how to fill extra time with students outside of the normal school year programing. Yet others are unsure exactly how to schedule the summer events and programing in a way that gives students opportunities to be involved with your student ministry while simultaneously letting your volunteers get refueled during the summer. The truth is that scheduling a summer in middle school ministry is complex.
One way to battle the complexities of summer scheduling in middle school ministry is by looking at events in four main categories. These four categories help give a well-rounded view of how to reach different types of students.
This category is aimed at getting students into your student ministry whom you have never been in contact with before. These could be friends of students, kids at the local public school, or older siblings of those who come to your church VBS program. The goal of engagement is to get to know more students that you would not normally have contact with and begin to build relationship with them.
This category is aimed at sharing the good news of Jesus with the students engaged in your ministry. This doesn’t mean that every event or program is totally focused around explaining the gospel, but it does mean that every time students are at your ministry there are strategic times of sharing the gospel. This could happen by students hearing the gospel shared by a leader or a student sharing a testimony. Other times evangelism over the summer could include encouraging your students to share the gospel with their friends who they spend a lot of time with while relaxing during their time off of school.
This category is aimed at building the faith of those students who are already followers of Jesus. Summer can be an incredible time of spiritual growth including building a Biblical foundation for students to stand on before the new school year starts. Bible studies at local pizza shops, small group conversations during summer camp, and weekly teaching at the church are all ways to focus on establishing more middle school students during the summer.
This category is aimed at beginning to empower middle school students to minister to their friends. Let’s get the elephant out of the room and admit that an equipped middle school student looks different than an equipped adult. However, we must not underestimate the possibilities of God using middle school students to reach their friends for Christ. The summer is a great time to equip students because they can learn, practice, and be prepared for the upcoming school year.
Let your anxiety level drop as you seek the Lord while asking him to give you wisdom on how to schedule your summer. Maybe this will be the summer that is strategically aimed at reaching different types of students instead of just having random events and programs.
– Kyle Hoffsmith.
The four categories above come from Tony Payne and Colin Marshall’s book The Vine Project. This book is aimed at helping churches implement disciple making strategies in their churches and can be useful for youth pastors to intentionally think about their ministry approach.