Summertime can be the best of times and the worst of times in youth ministry. The best of youth ministry is found in the increased amount of time you can spend with your teenagers in the summer. The mission trips, Six Flags outings, Lead THE Cause and summer camps and are incredible times to hang out. The greatest benefit of these out-of-the-ordinary outings is the relational investment you and your adults make in the lives of your students.
On the flip side, the worst thing about summertime is how busy it can become just doing things. It’s easy to lose your focus. Summer has a way of making us lax about the “good, better, best” maxim, and we begin to self-justify that youth ministry in the summer is just about “having fun.”
But is it?
Fun is great, but the best dynamic is when you’re having fun together AND you’re probing and prodding and prompting your students to move to a deeper place with Jesus. So as your summer hits full swing, with a little forethought and intention, take that busyness and make it count for something significant—something eternal. Make it a time to pour into your students and disciple them along the way as you carve out time together to talk about things that really matter!
Do life together and model what it looks like to walk with Jesus.
If you came of age in a youth group, think back to those adults who played a significant role in your life as a teenager. Did they spend extra time with you in the summer? Along with camp and mission trips, maybe you just hung out and spent time together. Summer is a God-given opportunity to do life together with your students, model the Christian life and engage them in deeper spiritual conversations.
Try This! ❯
Invite students along as you are out and about this summer instead of going alone…this provides a great opportunity to model and teach Christlikeness in the context of everyday life.
Invite students along as you are out and about, instead of going alone…this provides a great opportunity to teach in the context of everyday life. If you’re buying supplies to get ready for a trip, take a couple students; if you’re preparing lessons, invite a student to help…you get the idea. (You know the gender rules when hanging out with students. Make sure to follow them.) Let your students watch you with your family. Let them see you in different situations. You can teach them a lot just by giving them a window to your everyday life!
This was how Jesus discipled His followers, right in the middle of doing life together—whether they were walking through Samaria, fishing on the Sea of Galilee, walking past a vineyard or stopping to help a person in need—Jesus looked for natural opportunities to teach His disciples about the things of God.
Take your conversations deeper.
When you look back on your own teen years, can you honestly say that it was the talks you heard at camp or the fun you had during a summer youth group adventure that impacted you most? Likely, it was a personal conversation during a long drive, around a campfire, over a meal or on a hike when your youth leader or another adult engaged you on a deeper level. Those are the memories that stick with us across the years.
Asking good questions that trigger thoughtful conversation is a great place to start. Jesus was an expert at asking questions that nudged people deeper. “Who do people say the Son of Man is? …Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-20). “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Mathew 9:28). “Do you love me?” (John 21:17). “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’, and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)
Of course, you’ll want to target your questions to fit the spiritual maturity level of each student, but the goal is to sprinkle in questions that make them think about their life and their walk with Jesus more deeply. Here are a few conversation-starting questions you might consider using…
- What has God been teaching you lately?
- If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
- When you get older, do you think you’ll stay around this area or move someplace else? Why?
- Do you have a best friend? How long have you known them? What are they like? What do you like to do together? Do they know Jesus? If not, do you have a plan for how you might be able to introduce them to Jesus?
- What would you do with the money if someone gave you $100,000,000?
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- What was the best thing that happened to you during the past school year?
- What are you most looking forward to about next year at school? What are you least looking forward to?
- If you could know the date of your death, would you want to know it?
Share the gospel along the way.
You’re leading a Gospel Advancing Ministry, so sharing the gospel should be front of mind and permeating everything you do! Some of the greatest lessons in evangelism happen when you let your teenagers see you sharing the gospel with someone at the park or a restaurant when they least expect it! Surprise them, model how to do it, then look for opportunities to let them be the one sharing the gospel.
There’s lots of time to do fun things in the summer and spend more time with your students, but oftentimes the spiritual element gets left out. That is a huge missed opportunity! It’s not always a Bible study that needs to happen, but deeper spiritual conversations can be part of every event and activity. So what are your plans this summer? Make the most of every opportunity to show your students what it looks like to live a life that is fully devoted to Jesus!
Want more practical advice on mobilizing your teens to share the gospel? All of our Mobilize stories offer great ideas for training your students and building a Gospel Advancing Ministry. Sign up here to receive this free, hands-on, resource in your inbox!