A common problem for youth pastors is a blank calendar and a long summer ahead.
In that situation, there are really only two options. You could:
a) Keep the regularly scheduled program with spotty attendance.
b) Mix in something different with spotty attendance.
The "given" in either scenario is spotty attendance. This is because families are busy with vacations, trips to the lake, and doing all the things they aren't able to do during the school year. Tony Morgan addresses this issue from a "Weekend Worship Service" standpoint here.
So, as a youth pastor, what do you do with these hot summer months?
Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
1) Screen on the Green
Pick a movie that is family-friendly. Set up a projector and a screen (or a big sheet hanging on the side of someone's house will suffice). Get a bunch of popcorn, snacks, drinks, and bug spray. Make sure you start late enough for the sun to go down so you can actually see the movie!
2) Water Wars
Plan several different events/stations with different games or challenges using water. These could be anything from water balloons, a dunking booth, Super-Soaker tag, or Slip 'n Slides. It's a perfect combination of summer heat and cold water! One group I worked with set up some large tarps, doused them with water and baby shampoo (you don't want anyone's eyes stinging), and used them as a dodgeball court!
3) Sundae Night
Get a bunch of ice cream, toppings, styrofoam bowls, and plastic spoons. Let the students make their own ice cream sundaes.
4) Continuous Kick Ball Game
Kick ball is great because anyone can play. All you need to do is keep a running tally of the score. Talk about it on Sunday and build up the hype. Keep the same teams through the summer. Any friends that show up are simply added to the team their friend is on. Give away a prize to the winning team at the end of the summer (make sure it's something worthy of a contest that lasted ALL summer...not sure if a popsicle will cut it!).
5) Softball Game
This one might try your patience a bit as some people are more skilled than others in games involving a ball and an object to hit the ball with. But there might be enough buy-in from the students to make it worth your while (at least for a week). I recommend using a ball that is a little softer than a regulation softball and pick up a wood bat (30 inches in length will probably keep the weight light enough for everyone to be able to swing it) so the probability of injury is decreased. A couple of variations on traditional softball that I've seen include Tee Ball or substituting a tennis racket for the bat and a tennis ball for the softball.
6) Soup Kitchen
Because of group-size restrictions, you might have to limit this activity to a few students at a time. If you implement any of the suggestions in this post, this should be the one. Many soup kitchens operate at lunch time so this is an opportunity that you don't have during the school year. The act of serving food to real people in your city is one that can impact the way students view the homeless population for the rest of their lives. Do not let the summer pass by without taking at least one group to serve the poor.
What are you doing this summer to break the usual routine?
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