When I think of summer I think of Red Rover, Steal the Bacon, kickball, chalk cities, bike rides to the park, Barbies, forts, and camping trips. I remember having so much time on my hands I was bored. I was lucky to grow up on a cul-de-sac with a friend to play with every day of the week and a different house to sleep over each night. Summer was about fun not calendars, fund raising and permission forms. Summer was that moment when you threw your report card at your parents and ran outside to play till the streetlights came on. It had nothing to do with being exhausted before June even hit.
Do you remember anticipating summer, not dreading it? It seems that the more “events” offered, the more gets added to your ministry. World Youth Day, sports night, summer camps, Bible studies, Life Nights, retreats, lock-ins, broomball, Steubenville, XLT, Life Teen Notre Dame – heck I’m exhausted just writing these out. It is important to stop and ask yourself some important questions before you enter the summer. If you don’t you will end up going from one event to the next accomplishing nothing more than a migraine headache.
- What is the goal for each event? I have found that we automatically do the same things over and over again, each summer without reflecting on the goal. Stop and ask your teens what their personal and spiritual goals are and why they have chosen to attend. It will help you direct teens to the right events as well as help them reach their goals.
- Are there other adults who can attend events in your place? It is important to realize that you don’t have to attend every event. Sometimes sending a parent, Core members or priest in your place empowers them to answer a call from God. Don’t give into the lie that you are the only one who can lead your teens to Christ. Trust in the community God has provided you.
- Have the right teens been selected to attend each event? Whether it’s Life Teen Notre Dame or a diocesan leadership conference, have the right teens been chosen? Sometimes we send teens for the sake of numbers verses who is ready to grow and witness. The same holds true for Summer Camps and Steubenville conferences. A maturity and understanding of the event helps teens acclimate prior to attending. Take time to pray and prepare so teens and their families are open to what they will experience.
- Have you scheduled time for you? Are you taking your days off or is every day of the summer full of activities? Did you schedule a vacation for your self? Will your family see you outside Church? Schedule prayer times with God and your spiritual director. If possible, attend a Life Teen training conference or retreat. Be sure to make time for you, your family and God.
As you enter spring and prepare for summer I would love to share two great pieces of advice that were given to me when I first started ministry:
- If you add something to the calendar, delete something. God calls us to new adventures every day and season; summer is no exception. If you want to be a movement of the Holy Spirit, you have to be willing to change. Closing one door will only open another.
- Celebrate each event for as long as it took you to plan it. Praise God for how He is working in your ministry, in your teens and through you. If it took you 6-months to prepare for a retreat, take the photos and make them your screen saver or read a letter from a teen every day for 6 months. You will find more joy in your ministry.
Wherever your travels take you this summer know that the Life Teen staff is praying for you and your teens. We are honored to serve with you in leading teens to Christ. If there is anything we can do to serve you – please let us know.