I’m slightly uncomfortable with College Ministry’s stance toward the summer months. While individual ministries vary in summertime activities, the field of College Ministry as a whole seems to shrug off summer as either expendable, tailor-made for support-raising, or primarily for “special events” like weeks-long projects or mission trips.
Like I said, I’m only slightly uncomfortable. I understand all the reasons this happens, and I don’t have some sort of broad edict on how we need to do it better. But I can ask questions, so that’s what I’ll do for the rest of this post.
This is key: These questions are for you to ask yourself (and maybe even God) about your ministry. But many of them won’t apply at all to your ministry, and I completely understand that. Only if the shoe fits should you wear it! And there are a variety of “shoes” in the list below.
- Are our students coming out of summer closer to God than they were in May?
- Do we treat students who are called to stay home / stay local during the summer with the same honor as students who do missions, work at a camp, or work on special ministry projects?
- Do we share any responsibility for shepherding our students when they’re not in town with us?
- For the summer activities we do, are we giving local students the “B Team” when it comes to staffing, planning, purposefulness, or activities? Should we be?
- Are we ministering in light of the fact that college students often have more time to invest in spiritual activities in the summer?
- Are we fully taking advantage of the other advantages of the summer months (perhaps group size, campus accessibility, student boredom, chances to partner with other ministries, and more)?
- For campus-based college ministries: Should we be solely counting on home churches to shepherd our students (students they may not have seen for 9 months)?
- What specific purposes have we already thought through, prayed through, and written down for this summer? Did we spend as much energy and focus on planning for the summer as we did for the spring?
- Are we basing our local summer work on how many students are around? If there were 100 more students, would we be more purposeful? How should purposefulness, energy, etc., be affected by ministry size?
- Do our summer ministry activities accord with our recognition that the college years are truly a “hinge” moment in students’ lives? Are we okay with 1/4 or more of that hinge remaining largely “unshepherded”?
Again – I’m not writing assuming that all these apply to your campus ministry! (In fact, I know that some ministries have their strongest work in the summer, and some might need to ask these Qs about the school year!) But I wanted to ask questions that would challenge us to rethink our approaches and make sure we’re fulfilling our ministry in a year-round way.