As another summer draws near, our junior high ministry is gearing up for beach days, overnight trips, summer camp and all the usual summertime activities. Because it’s so easy to slip into a “lazy days of summer” mentality, I make sure to remind myself of a few important things that, if neglected during the summer months, set me up to lose in the fall.
1. Remember, at least 1/3 of your students are new! For us, because we’re a 7th/8th grade ministry, a full 50% of our students are brand new at the start of each summer! That’s 50% of my attendance that have no history with our junior high ministry…they don’t know our routines, they don’t know our leaders, they don’t know our “culture.” Summer is a very strategic time to help the new students in your ministry begin to feel at home.
2. Remember, for a lot of parents this is their very first experience with youth group! The oldest child in a family, who is entering your junior high ministry, is breaking new ground; no older sibling has gone before him/her so Mom and Dad are likely extra excited, extra nervous, extra cautious, extra…everything! Take extra time with these new parents to educate them, answer questions, and introduce them to where to go for answers to questions.
3. Remember, junior high ministry is all about relationships! If you are too busy planning an amazing summer schedule of activities to actually spend time with students and parents, I think you are missing the point! Consider planning a “cheap and easy” summer calendar that requires less organization on your part, and less pre-registration/early bird rates/down payments on parents’ part. This will free everybody up to enjoy summer the way it was meant to be enjoyed!