Summer has always been a challenging time for our youth ministry. We don't take the summer off as a youth ministry, but our numbers have always gone down dramatically during the summer. And, in my 9 years at Grace Community, I've tried to do different things to bring more kids in over the summer and nothing has really worked incredibly well. But, I believe this summer has been our best to date ... not because of having more kids come, because we haven't, but because of what we've been doing with the kids that have come.
I focused my summer strategy on 5 core values that I have in youth ministry ... 1) have kids serve 2) have kids develop a sense of community with each other 3) have kids plugged in to the church as a whole 4) have kids share their faith and 5) have kids seek to know God more. I feel we've been doing that well this summer. Those are my only core values, but they're the three I focused on this summer.
We've done several different things to have kids develop a sense of community in our youth ministry. This was one of our best ... the Fireworks Party. Everyone had a great time and it was fun for me to see kids enjoying each other and enjoying being with our adult leaders.
We didn't know it when we moved there 9 years ago, but our house is at the perfect location for our local 4th of July fireworks. We have the party at our place, cook out, play lots of fun games, and when it finally gets dark, we sit back and enjoy the show.
We've killed two birds with one stone at Summer Soak. I prepped our teenagers weeks before the summer began that in the month of June we'd be serving our church through Summer Soak. Summer Soak is a once a week ministry we have for elementary aged kids the month of June. We play a ton of water games and kids just have a blast. Any of our teenagers who came on a Wednesday night were plugged in to helping lead a team. It had our kids serving and it also had them involved in the church as a whole. Teens were serving side-by-side with other adults from Grace and it was awesome to see. Below is a picture from the Bible study time at Summer Soak.
First Wednesdays is something our church does once a month in the summer in order to develop a sense of family with each other. We cook out, play games, and have other things going on for adults and kids. It's a fun way to spend an evening in the summer. Our youth ministry plugs right in to this. It not only has them rubbing shoulders with the entire church, but it's also given us an opportunity to serve. We've had kids helping serve food and also organizing a dodgeball tournament and a 3 on 3 basketball tournament. Below is a pic of some of the kids getting ready for 3 on 3.
We've had a mission trip to Nicaragua in which kids shared their faith as well as served and we'll also be going to our summer youth conference next week giving kids and opportunity to learn more about God, serve, and share their faith. And, we have a something called Bibles and Donuts ... pretty simple ... we study the Bible and we eat donuts.
Our summer strategy has been fairly simple and yet pretty effective for us this year. I think I've tried too hard in the past to get fancy with what we've done and this year I tried to stay simple and true to some of my values in ministry and it's worked out great for us.