We are about to record hours and hours in the church van. Summer is here and we are ready to take our relationship with Waze to a new level. Cheers, my fellow road warriors! You deserve all the pay-off that is sure to come with the investment of time you’ll be making in youth ministry this summer. Road trips create bonds that can never be broken. They teach us things we’d never get the chance to discover during youth group.
On the 13-hour drive to Mexico, I learned that Jeremy could talk. He talked the entire time! He was happy to tell me every single story that made up the 14 years of his life. On the 6-hour drive to summer camp, I learned that Samantha wanted to be a social worker. And on the 3-hour drive to Rock the Universe, I discovered that Cameron was recording songs on garage band and had dreams of becoming a music producer.
When our road trips wind down, and we’ve tightly secured ‘Road Warrior’ status, lets not forget what makes youth ministry in the summer so unforgettable and special!
We are present and approachable.
- When the van breaks down at 2 am, there’s nowhere to go but where we’re going. We’re less distracted than we are during a normal youth event where we worry about starting on time, finishing on time, and everything in-between. Road trips allow us to be more present, and require us to be a lot more flexible. On the road, we operate in the moment, instead of 10 minutes ahead of the moment.
- With lack of sleep and confined space we open up more and share who we are with the people around us. Road trips allow us to be more human and less youth director. We are approachable, authentic, and connected.
- Road trips offer the kind of adult-to-student ratio that allow us the time and energy needed to connect with students in a meaningful way.
- During trips we tend to stay put long enough to spend quality time with students. We give them more time than we usually do.
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We see what Jesus sees.
- Our eyes are opened to new insights about the students we’ve been charged to care for.
- We begin to recognize students as individuals, not just in the context of the group.
- We gain love and appreciation for each student as we watch them interact with each other, and with those they serve.
Oh how they shine.
- During summer trips, individual victories are celebrated in the large group, encouraging students to shine.
- We are able to recognize and notice students who are struggling and we encourage and affirm them.
- Students are given more opportunities to serve, minister, and lead each other.
The summer offers us extended time with our students. What specific things can you point to that happen differently during summer ministry making it a special time? In the past, I’ve enjoyed the way the summer changes my pace, my priorities, and brings me closer to families and students. But the truth is, when all the trips wrap up, I tend to go right back to my old hustle and bustle, push-push-push, ‘what’s coming next’ ministry mentality. As easily as the summer brought me out of my youth office, the new school year will suck me right back into my office.
This summer I pray that we are able to hear, see, and do youth ministry differently and effectively. I pray that we bring what we’ve learned on the road home with us, every time. I pray that being more available, more approachable, and more invested in students would not just be a summer road trip thing.
Blessings my fellow road warriors.