I read a post over this subject on http://www.theresurgence.com, and I thought I would share what my Summer has looked like for my youth group and my church in this small town.
I haven’t felt much of the “Summer Slow Down.” In fact this is one of the busiest summers I can recall. Our Church had VBS, then a week later the youth and I went to Super Summer at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Another week past and my wife and I headed home for a week of Vacation visiting family. While it was good to see everyone it was far from refreshing as I returned even more exhausted. Then after another week and a half the Youth and I went to Paisano Baptist Encampment in Alpine, Texas. Our church owns a cabin there so we can take up to 17 people to camp for free. Alpine is beautiful, and the camp was structured in a way that allowed me to relax, do some reading and take naps (I took at least a two hour nap everyday, it was amazing). In the mist of this last camp my wife and I are beginning the pre-service training for a “foster-to-adopt” program. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m ready to slow down and plan 5th Quarters.
During this crazy summer my average attendance has been cut in half. Some have jobs, others are on vacation with their families, and some have just disappeared. Total Church attendance has been down about a quarter to a third. To be honest this was a little discouraging at first but honestly it has made my job easier. So therefore I’m going to embrace it.
Being your attendance will be down over the summer, and will be inconsistent people wise (as in different people will be in-and-out of town), it’s the perfect time to take a week or two off. When I first went into ministry I had the immature notion that a pastor should be at his post at all times. Well, God saw fit that I should spend 3 years outside of ministry working a “real job” so that I could learn some valuable lessons. One of these is that everybody needs a break, even pastors. Also, I believe its good to have someone else fill your pulpit, or even in the case of Youth Ministry cancel services from time to time. You become stale and your church can fall into a rut. I read a book by David Platt this last week called Radical, it was refreshing to me that I was able to climb onto a rock be alone and do some good reading. Also, by not having Youth Church on Wednesday night it gave my youth a break. My hope is that they will miss not having Church, and it will renew their desire. Also, I feel as though it removes the sense of “obligation” from coming to church. So by having a few down weeks, I think it will bring about a healthier Youth Ministry.
I have planned zero youth activities outside of camp this summer. Except for our once monthly game nights, and of course our camps. Some of my only-ever-come-to-game-night people haven’t been to fond of this, but I’ve been clear that we meet on Wednesdays and have an open gym after Bible Study. And as a side rant it wouldn’t break my heart if they just quit coming, or get serious about following Jesus. I’d prefer them getting serious about following Jesus, of course.
So in planning less, and by being awesome and planning ahead for the camps, I have had a lot of free time at my office. This has been filled mainly with fall planning, reading, and reading. I’ve also listened to a few sermon podcasts here and there. I wish I had been more intentional about the variety. I’ve read Purpose Driven Church, Synergistic Evangelism, Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business, Radical, many blogs, and a good deal of the Bible.
I get to preach this Sunday as my pastor on vacation, it will be the first time that I’ve had an opportunity to teach the whole church. This Sunday (8/4/13) will mark my first full year of service here.
In closing here are a few tips for your “Summer Slump”
- Plan Less, and plan in advance
- Take a Vacation
- It’s probably not the best time to start a 10 week study over the Trinity, as people will be in-and-out.
- Read Books
- Focus on reading large portions of Scripture. (I really like the youversion app, and the plans they offer. I read ahead and I’m really liking the plans they offer. I also have my phone with me at all times.
- Evaluate your ministries and programs
- Plan out your goals for the next year.
Peace be with you