For many of us, our summer ministry has ended.
You may have led an incredible VBS, inspiring mission trip, or even had life-changing experiences at summer camp. Now is the time we move from the hustle of summer into the more rhythmic school year.
So how do we help teens, children, families, our teams, and the congregation remember the meaningful experiences from this summer? After all, if they don’t remember, did it even happen? Okay, that may be a bit dramatic. But you get the idea. We must consider how we can help them remember these meaningful experiences.
But how can we keep summer memories all year?
Here are four quick thoughts on how you can help them carry these summer ministry experiences into the school year.
First, tell the stories.
Stories are important and have the power to transform us. They can help a young person remember their experience or even encourage the finance committee to approve your budget request.
Find every avenue you can to share the stories from this summer. You may share these stories in service, through video, as quotes over social media, as student testimonies at youth group, or in adult Sunday school classes. In whatever avenue you can find, tell the stories.
Two, let summer experiences influence school year ministry.
Was there a popular random object from a trip? Did the children at VBS talk about a new dance move or song? Was there a particular teaching focus this summer? Were young people moved by the people they served?
Find ways to integrate those experiences into your school programming. Perhaps they change your teaching focus or the types of games you will play. Maybe you realized over the summer that you need to help your group bond more. You may decide to do fewer stage games and more trust activities.
Third, Seek Out Meetings With Families.
Often young people go home and tell their parents, “camp was great.” And those are the only words the parents get – three little words even when you know that the teen’s experience is worth hundreds of words.
Have coffee with parents and brag about their child. Share with them what you saw in their child this summer or what you talked about at VBS. Give parents ideas on encouraging continued growth in their young person.
Fourth, Take Notes.
I mean, take lots and lots of notes. Write about your experiences with different children or teens. In what ways did you see their growth? Later you can use these notes to encourage them.
But more than just notes about young people, take notes about the events. What went well? What did not go well? How can these things inform how you do ministry over the school year and even next summer?
Rev. Brian Lawson is the Director of Leadership Development and Client Services for YMI and has served in youth ministry since 2004. He also serves as a pastor in the Florida Conference of the UMC. Brian holds a Master of Ministry with a focus in organizational culture, team-based leadership, change, conflict, and peacemaking from Warner University. In addition to his degrees from Warner, he studied Christian Education at Asbury Theological Seminary. Click the social links below to engage with Brian.