Summer in youth ministry – it’s flipping sweet. While much of the parish seems to be slowing down and relaxing, summer is when youth ministry hits high gear.
Why? Teens are off of school and looking for things to do! During the school year, we’re competing with everything from homework overload to play and choir to sports and other extracurriculars. Add in some good family time, and Church offerings are often squeezed out. But using the opportunity of summer right can really help your ministry take off.
Here are three ways of making that happen for you:
1. Social events with a purpose.
Sure, having game nights or a movie outside on the side of building (drive in style!), or a softball gathering don’t seem like great ministry on their own. But it’s all in how you approach it. If you are busy being referee and running around not really engaged, you’re wasting the opportunity. But if you’ve got everything set up and ready to go, you can focus on relational ministry. With enough Core there to help keep it running smoothly, you can all really get chances to talk with teens – and build great relationships – and invite teens to offerings that will bring them further in their faith.
2. Making sacraments social.
We started a tradition at my most recent parish – Mass and Lunch. Teens were invited to noon mass every Monday during the summer, and we’d have some sort of lunch for them afterwards, whether it was pizza, tacos, or PB & J parties. It grew into great groups of teens attending mass, building community, and having fun for the afternoon. This could also work with gathering teens for Reconciliation and going to dinner afterwards or something. Get creative to use the freedom of summer to bring teens to Sacraments, and build community by have fun around it.
3. Pool parties.
For some reason, there are more pools per capita up in New York State than in places like Florida and Georgia. So it was always easy to find teens with pools. And we’d get together on Wednesdays at the church for a Bible Study, followed by traveling over to a pre-arranged home for a pool party and fire with s’mores. We tried to rotate it so that families weren’t hosting more than once or twice a summer, but these were nights where teens would love to learn more about their faith and then have fun together.
There are so many different ways to use the freedom teens have in summer to build the ministry community at your parish – and this is just a beginning list. Teens are looking for things to do, and they’re willing to bring friends to events that are fun and without pressure.
What things have you done to bring teens deeper in faith and build community over the summer?