It often feels like a flat time in youth ministry.
Young people, free from exams, go off on holiday and staff take a month off (if they can get cover). Camps and house parties take place and young people disappear to many parts. While it is important for regular staff and volunteers to get a rest, there are some things that can be usefully done.
Thanks to leaders
For those who have done a year of service, it is good to mark that achievement. It is good if leaders can get a rest and the church could send a card thanking them for their service. If you can include a book as a small token of thanks, that is often appreciated. But make sure it is not a book about the strains of youth ministry. Perhaps a small one about the person of Jesus would be a blessing.
I often found that, during August, less people were around, so I used it (during the time I was around) to see a few individuals. What we do in youth ministry is so often about the life and health of the group. If one of your team is around, it can be quite revealing to take them out for meal or a drink and give them a chance to talk about their experience in the life of the group. In a one-to-one you will learn more than in a leadership team meeting. It gives team members a chance to share their ideas and vision for the group. I have often found some good ideas for future plans in meetings like this.
Keeping something going
What about the young people. If you can, have something that happens during the summer months even if the main group meeting stops. It can be simple like some coffee and food after an evening service but it is something. Some young people don’t go away and need some kind of gathering if they are not going to drift away. Summer breaks have been responsible for the loss of young people from the life of the group. If, when we are so focussed on making sure our group meetings are well planned and run, we hear something from one of the group which we don’t have time to deal with at the moment it surfaces, then dealing with it later may need a one-to-one to understand the issue – the summer break gives time for such individual conversations.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the short gap between the end of July and the first week of September. I always find it important to have some kind of recharge process in the summer break. Maybe a one day retreat is possible or just an evening reading the Bible – do something for your own spiritual well-being. So many people start a new year in September feeling under-prepared both practically and spiritually.
What we did on our holidays?
One more thing! When the young people come back from their ventures, find out about what happened. If they’ve attended a camp it can bring real life to your group as you hear the stories of young people experiencing blessing. Enjoy a good break.
Dave Fenton – associate minister at Christ Church Winchester and Training Director of Root 66 which runs training courses for youth ministers across the UK.