Well the summer has come to an end and just when you thought you would get a break, it is time for a brand new school year! Remember first things first, you cannot take care of anyone else until you are taking care of yourself.
The teens will take the first couple of weeks of school to adjust to new changes in their lives. Freshmen are getting used to a new environment and a more mature world; sophomores and juniors are adjusting to the harder academics; seniors ‘think’ they are home free. As youth ministers this is an important time to be available to your teens so don’t over book yourself. Here are some tips to allow your teens and Core to gather, relax and start a great new year!
- Back to School Bash: After the adjustment of being back to the classroom and sitting still, the first couple of weeks the teens are going to have an abundant amount of energy. Have a gathering for your teens either at your first Life Night of the semester or during the week. Have a “Back to School Bash” allowing the teens to come back together and have a little fun. Create a theme and run with it! You can keep it simple and virtually inexpensive with messy games or go as big as renting a dunk booth and asking your pastor to have a seat! Have a game night during the week where the teens can come play some Frisbee, eat, and relax. Be creative and remember to have fun.
- Reconnect: Find time to reconnect with your teens and their families. Teens are all often gone during the summer with camps, vacations and, well, sheer laziness. Spend some solid time in relational ministry asking about the teen’s summer. Invite the parents (especially freshman parents) to the one of the first semester Life Nights, giving them an opportunity to be a part of the ministry. Most importantly, follow up with your local contacts at schools and other youth ministers around the area. Building a youth minister community will help you share ideas, struggles, and most importantly give you an opportunity to pray for each other. Reestablishing school contacts gives you opportunity to be present at the school for clubs, sporting events, and lunchtime throughout the year.
- Core Commitment: Gather your Core Team together before starting the semester events; share your summer, ministry stories and reconnect with each other. Talk about the calendar of events with all your Core Members and share expectations and hopes for the semester. Ask the Core Members what they are looking forward to this semester, where they want to grow, and to recommit to the ministry. Be sure to bring your priests to these meetings, especially if you have a new priest at your parish.
- Pray! Take some time to pray, relax and remember you can’t do this alone. Reach out to your support systems, especially your family. Enter into prayer to prepare your heart for the new year of ministry. It is times like these where I remember “there is a God and it is not you.” Reconnect with HIM and give your entire ministry to God!
May God bless you in the new year, keep solid in faith, always praise God and remember to embrace the Grace!