Friday, May 20, 2011

Perspectives From the Field: Summer Connection

Speaking from a standpoint and position where I am still trying to figure out how to keep students connected, inspired, and motivated to engage more deeply throughout the summer this topic is incredibly difficult. What I am realizing today is that students are busier now than at any other time in history. No day is sacred . . . Wednesday’s and Sunday’s are now being filled with games or events at school. These things paired with soccer, baseball, football, cheerleading, choir, vacations, camps, and student/school involvement make keeping kids connected, especially during summer, a deeply difficult task. Here’s what I have been working through in our ministry.

Our kids (and I believe this generation as a whole) want to be involved in something that makes a difference. Sadly, I think young people feel more inclined to volunteer and help in non-profits then be actively involved in the Church. Sadly, this is because they don’t see the church making much of a difference. So this leads us to a few responses. First is trying being creative with times and programs/events. Take your office time and turn it into opportunities to be with students. Grab lunch or coffee with a group of different students each week. Find a group of kids in need of more engagement in the ministry. Target them for specific encounters at the church or out in the community. Play ultimate Frisbee, football, basketball, or board games together. These moments do not have to have a specific purpose outside of just being together. These instances are essential for ministry. I have to constantly remind myself to get out of my office and go. Get out of your office and be with students. This is why we got into this job in the first place, right?

The other area we are emphasizing this summer is Missions. We are making a deliberate effort to provide students with opportunities to get involved in local non-profits that are impacting our community weekly. These missional moments are advancing the Kingdom of God while simultaneously connecting and pushing students deeper into relationship with each other, our ministry, and more importantly with our glorious Savior.

Even with the most creative moments of our ministry and the most powerful ways to keep kids engaged we simply will not prevail against the many things that pull kids in a thousand different directions. In the end, we have to just be okay and joyful in the kids that show up every week. God is in charge of this ministry and is placing these students in my life each week. So each week, let us engage in what God is doing now, trying to ignore our Senior Ministers and the pressures and questions of, “Why are our numbers lower?” and pushing more deeply into what God is doing in the moment. May God continue to bless you all as you move deeper into His amazing and unfailing love. Amen.

By Jay Smith
Coordinator of High School Ministries
Church of the Servant
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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