Every summer my schedule is pretty full leading music at camps, churches and events. Through the years, I have talked with youth pastors and other ministry leaders who seem to have just as full of a schedule.
In the last few weeks I’ve heard of one person moves to the camp full time in the summer and works from home during the year. Another youth pastor will be gone five weeks and still has one to go – speaking at two camps, leading two trips and a mission trip out of the country. Last week, I worked with several high school students who after attending a week of camp for their own age group, helped with two more camps for kids the following week. I met a camp director who leads a camp that has 17,000 visitors each year and about half of those are in the summer. His college staff of 65 students is there all summer and he is practically on 24/7 for 7 weeks (except Thursday nights when he takes a karate class with his daughter). I know of countless youth pastors who will be gone at least three weeks this summer and will be involved in another special week at their church such at VBS. It’s sort of a standard four weeks of ministry that are different than the norm, most away from home.
Of course there is the issue of balancing time and the fact that not everyone can leave to serve – someone has to stay home and take care of things at work and at church. But there is also the other side. The scripture says that Jesus prayed for more workers in the harvest field. And the summer is a harvest season. For the most part, kids are out of school and available. If we are going to reach them through the means of camps, mission trip and other special experiences, then the summer is the time to do it. It’s the window of time that is needed to pull away for deep and rich experiences. And much like a farmer who works furiously – day and night – when it’s time to bring in the crops, summer ministry to students is the same way.
I’m not aware of any studies that might indicate a more prevalent time than others for students being transformed through the power of Jesus love. But I’m guessing summer would be in the running as the number one. Any season is good to share the gospel. But, I tend to hear more stories about people following Christ, feeling led into ministry, experiencing life changing moments from experiences on mission trips, camps, and other summer events more than any other single thing.
Of course, there will never be a substitute for week in and week out, relational discipleship at home and at home churches. But there is something about the summer schedules that inspire and energize me.
So, youth pastors, camp directors, ministry leaders – enjoy the time. Feel free to wallow in pity with each other over your full schedule – for fun, but never underestimate the power of the Gospel going forward through the investment of time with students in special summer ministry settings.
One more word – right now, while you are in the midst of the craziness – plan a time for rebuilding on the home front. Plan a vacation, a series of mornings only at the church office, a special dinner, time away, whatever it is. Take some time to reinvest with family and friends upon returning home from a busy and fruitful summer.