You have rang in the new year, taken down the Christmas tree (hopefully), and the students are back in school after Christmas break. Now what? It is the perfect time to begin planning for summer. You are not in a time crunch or rushed, and this is a chance to dream of warmer days to come in youth ministry!
Check out these tips for summer planning:
- Fresh Office Supplies
The inner middle school nerd in me loves shopping for fresh office supplies. Head over to your nearest office supply store and pick up a yearly planner for your wall. This will help you look at the year in totality, not just month to month. You will be able to see just how crowded certain times are and adjust the youth schedule. While you are there, pick up some fresh dry erase markers, cleaner, and eraser to go along with the calendar!
2. Pick a Theme
Begin praying about what the summer theme needs to be this year. Ask the Lord in prayer, as well as yourself, what are the students struggling with? What do they need to hear in the summer? What will prepare them for August’s rush of back to school? What is relevant?
Usually you will come to a central theme or two. At that point, ask the Lord through prayer what scripture, book, or Bible character will best address that topic? From there you should narrow down a specific verse for the theme verse for the summer. Play with the theme and the scripture a bit and come up with a one to two word label or “branding.” For example, Crossover, Endless Summer, and Built to Last are ones I have used in the past.
3. Place the Trips
Remember, this is your schedule also. Don’t place the mission trip with in one day of your cousins wedding out of state. That is not fair to you, your family, or the church to have you gone that long in one time period. Spread them out, and build in an automatic day off on the first work day after a trip.
When I get back from our mission trip on a Saturday night, typically that Monday I have off of work. You need time to regroup, and unpacking the first aid kits will still be there for you on Tuesday. I am giving you permission to do this! Plan recuperation time for yourself physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally!
If you want to know what trips to plan, every church has a different theory on this. I recommend a high school mission trip, a middle school mission trip, and a summer camp for both middle and high school together. I have done the larger camps, but I opt for doing a camp with 5 other youth pastors I know so that we can have more input on what direction the messages go as well as activities.
You want to begin the summer with a WOW! I begin with a lock-OUT. You can read about it in one of my previous posts. It doesn’t have to be that, but you want to do something that it fun and celebratory with school getting out! This is a great way to gather everyone, and begin the summer connected!
5. Create the Balance
On weeks in the summer where we do not have a trip we have Sunday services, a Tuesday outreach night, and a Wednesday evening worship and small groups. You want to capitalize on students being available without exhausting yourself!
Our Tuesday night outreach nights are anything from paint wars, nerf wars, scavenger hunts, movie nights, and the list goes on and on. I plan the movie night for right after our most intense trip! You have several months to plan these, buy supplies a little at a time, and get them on sale! Also, there is plenty of time to ramp up everyone!
It is always fun to start out with a little bit of swag. I live in a coastal community, so we do tank tops that have our summer theme logo on them with the scripture. You can have students sign up and pay in advance or order them and pay when they receive it. This is a great way to push home the point.
We choose to wear them to our Tuesday night gathering each week. Also, make a summer calendar to put online and give to your students at the WOW event. They will have a whole 5 weeks to get excited about the slip n’ slide night in July!
Now you won’t feel near as rushed about the planning. In fact, you might just be ahead. It makes the day of the event seem smoother, and you know what is coming up. You can just enjoy!