The days stretch out and we feel the tension release, as if our ministry muscles have been in knots all year long. We inhale from a long year of work and exhale the fruits—we hop into vans and buses and take long journeys, our only expectation is that everyone would grow and change.
Why is it that summer is such a valuable season?
Maybe there are a few reasons.
1. The pattern changes.
I don’t know about you, but my personality begs for change. I like it when plans shift. During the school year they don’t shift as much. Summer gives me the joy of something new, something different, a new challenge or opportunity.
2. There are extra moments for relational ministry.
Van time. Camp time. Outside-around-the-campfire time. Every summer there always seems to be at least one conversation that becomes the fuel for an entire year. Honest and transparent words. Hurts from the perspective of those we serve. Impressions on the wet cement of their growing hearts. And we find joy again–extra motivation to keep going. There really isn’t much else that compares to leading a person to new life—to Jesus.
3. The more relaxed days lead to additional reflection.
We get to pause. We get to catch up with ourselves. We get to ask questions about what’s working and what isn’t. Experience is the most expensive teacher. What can I learn from this year’s experiences so I don’t have to repeat and repay the price next year? How has life changed? How have my students changed? Is there something happening that’s so good that other things need to die for it to really grow?
4. The sweet spots build confidence.
We’ve always said that camp is the sweet spot of youth ministry. It’s the high place where defining spiritual moments occur. As leaders, we also should avoid the temptation to view these experiences as exclusively for others. We can’t write them off too quickly, for we’re growing as well. It’s a great time to see value in what we do. To own it. To know that our confidence is in Christ and it’s a far cry from arrogance to believe that what we are doing is the right thing to do. We are helping others back to Jesus. As we see value in who we are and what we do, we’ll be able to add more value to others.
5. It’s a season that breeds curiosity.
Some people might say that curiosity killed the cat. I think curiosity made the cat live longer. Why else would it have nine lives? Summer gives us space to think, create, dream, ask questions, and venture out into thoughts we’ve never entertained, games we never dared to play, ideas that would shock the church organ right out of its fortress. I can’t wait to hear from God this summer. I’m always pumped as we head to camp; I’m full of anticipation. Yes, for the students. Yes, for the way the Spirit moves and surprises us and transforms us. But I also anticipate the new things, the stuff-I-never-could-think-of-on-my-own-if-I-wanted-to stuff. And I always look forward to August, coming home with my pocketful of sunshine, deep experiences, and curious ideas… and then we get to start all over again.
Why is summer a valuable season for you? What lessons have you learned as you’ve reflected on what it means to you?