You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘summertime ministry’ category.

A Fridea from a long ways back that would be worth considering this summer…


In most college ministry settings, summertime means fewer students. But those who are around likely have more time – so it’s a bummer to miss out on the opportunity to foster spiritual growth, relationships, and ministry. Here’s one potential way to help this happen with students in your town, and build your “critical mass” at the same time. It won’t fit every ministry, but the Frideas rarely do.

Combine forces with other local college ministries.

Could InterVarsity, Campus Crusade, and Chi Alpha get together for weekly or monthly large group meetings over the summer? Sure they could.

Could First Baptist’s college ministry and RUF go to some baseball games together? Absolutely.

Could Christian University’s spiritual life department coordinate some small group Bible studies with Community Church’s college ministry and any other students who happen to be home for the summer? Sure!

Could a mission trip, road trip, service project, Bible study, or disciplemaking system provide something worth gathering around in unison? It could indeed!

The point is asking what would serve collegians in your ministry and collegians in your town the best. Whether in a few things or even one big combo, it’s worth considering if this method fits your goals.

It’s crazy, but with student shortages and staff shortages and calendar randomness, it could be the perfect way to keep students abiding in Jesus and catalyze them for an outstanding Fall 2017.

Occasionally I’ve pointed out that Thanksgiving Break serves as an awesome warm-up for the looming Christmas break. Most of your students likely go home for just long enough to remember/realize what they’ll face when they go home for five-ish weeks in December.

But the same is true for Easter. Though not all students likely went home, I bet plenty did. And now, Summer Break is right around the corner.

One of the less-apparent but most valuable roles a college minister (or student leaders) can play this time of year is helping students intentionally prepare for the summer. Specifically…

  • How will they continue to grow in the Lord, not simply coast?
  • How will they respond to and minister to old friends?
  • How will they avoid old temptations?
  • How encouraging or discouraging do their family dynamics tend to be… and how will they respond there?
  • If they have a job, how will they work “as unto the Lord”?

I’m not sure this happened much when I was in college. While I remember offering prayer requests in small group settings, I don”t remember anyone helping me process the summer ahead – identifying the opportunities, identifying the challenges, developing a plan, and organizing mentorship or accountability.

But you can do this for your students. If they’ve just spent time home at Easter, then it’s an easy discussion based on that “experiment.” But regardless, they can recall Christmas break and look ahead to summer. And they can prepare for what the Lord might want to do.

It’s probable I’ve mentioned something like this before, though it may not have been in exactly this form.

We all know – and we all hate pondering – that people forget most of what we teach soon after we teach it. So I’m a big fan of finding ways to remind, review, and repackage, giving extended life to teaching we’ve spent so much time on… and that we truly believe is what our people need to hear. (Of course, this only makes sense if you were really purposeful in choosing your topics in the first place!)

One way to do this in a college ministry is to engineer review opportunities for the natural breaks between semesters – Christmas break and summertime.

What if there was a way for students to get re-immersed in ministry-wide teaching from the previous semester (or year)? Or what if their small group learning content was “repackaged” into something that could impact them over the break? Meditating on truths a second time around could dramatically increase their retention – and application!

It’s easy to think students won’t want to relearn content they’ve been exposed to. But this is where the whole “they’ve forgotten it already” reality comes in handy, especially because you can repackage in a format that isn’t exactly what they experienced before. And you may not even need to do a lot of repackaging.

Some examples of ways this could play out, to get you thinking:

  • Create a summertime devotional (or suggest a book they can buy on Amazon) that teaches the same book of the Bible or theological topic you studied this spring.
  • Challenge students to re-listen to the Large Group Meeting messages once a week over the break, and provide new study questions they can do on their own.
  • Offer an online forum that will discuss various themes from the earlier semester more deeply, while allowing students to connect even though they’re in various cities.
  • Offer a study, a book of the Bible, etc., that is different from ones you studied this year but that hits a lot of the same themes.
  • Let students create a lot of this for you – for instance, for each of the past school year’s teaching themes, find a student who was impacted by that topic. Have them write a testimony and new devotional on that theme.

A Spring Break-related post from a couple of years ago, with an added twist or two.

You might have students (maybe much of your group) heading out for a mission trip at Spring Break. Other students may be “mission-ing” this summer overseas or in the states, and still others may have their own mission at a Christian camp, etc.. You may have some graduates participate in a longer mission experience after graduation, too.

(Others should see their experience as missions, too – interning, studying abroad, even going back home. While this Fridea is easiest to apply to the above crews, applying it to these would be an awesome tool indeed.)

In all these opportunities, how are your other students following the mission?

So that’s this week’s Fridea: Encourage and facilitate “reports from the field” via blog, email, or other avenues.

Not only is it good for those back at home to hear from their friends on mission, it’s also great for the “missionaries” to include others in their work. The “senders” back home get to feel like they’re truly sending their friend, and they get to be part of the experience and get exhorted from afar. They’re also more likely to do something like that in the future.

And for the participant, this is a form of debrief, encouraging them to process what they’re learning. It also reminds them that even by stepping out, they’re leading – for many, they might feel that burden more when they know their friends are joining in.

(There’s always the option to highlight a few students – doing a few different activities – that you know will provide awesome testimonies… and will write well.)

Some of your students don’t have a “home church” because church wasn’t even on their minds before they came to college. But other students definitely do – with various levels of involvement in their histories – and will be back around this summer (again, with various levels of planned involvement).

This is one venue, though, where college ministers can train collegians in churchmanship – through the “lab” of church involvement during school breaks (and especially summertime). The same is true for those students who get an internship in an unfamiliar city, or who study abroad.

If students haven’t exercised their church-going (and sometimes church-finding) muscles in the midst of college, those muscles won’t be poised for use the day after graduation.

So how are you helping students practice, coach?

Maybe you need to ask this question in a month, but maybe it works now, too:

What should your student leaders or other student volunteers have been working on this summer?

There’s three months of opportunity each summer to move your college ministry forward – more time, more focus, just less proximity. Are there things that you, your staff, or summer students have been doing that could have been developed by students who are home?

Giving students projects over the summer – with some check-ins – keeps them engaged, frees you up, and gives you an easy excuse to connect with them.

So what opportunities did you miss this summer, and what will you change next year?

One really productive – but slightly tricky – assessment for your ministry is asking how your students spent their time when they weren’t surrounded by the accountability and encouragements of your college ministry.

In other words, did they follow Jesus this summer?

If you can figure out a good way to ask this, it will show you a lot about your effectiveness as a college ministry: how well you’re building students’ personal walk, how well you’re preparing them for their post-college spirituality, etc.

But two concerns:

Not shaming. A question like, “How often did you spend time reading the Bible?” (for example) gets to the point effectively. But it might make you uncomfortable because it feels a little heavy-handed (it does to me). Maybe I’d feel differently tomorrow. But it might be more effective to ask open-ended questions (“What did you your spiritual walk look like this summer?”) or self-assessment questions (“On a scale of 1-10, how effectively do you feel like you kept your spiritual walk going this summer?”) – some combination of those might be the best route here.

Get going. Generally, you want to avoid the Observer Effect when you’re surveying. But in this case – if you ask these questions now – it might work in everybody’s favor. What if you polled students mid-summer? Might it help them reflect and adjust this very vital segment of their lives?

It’d be interesting to know a couple of things about your students this summer:

  • How many are communicating with other members of the college ministry this summer?
  • Who in the ministry doesn’t have any in-ministry relationships that they maintain over the summer?

You can see how it’s a pretty interesting assessment, right? Whether or not your college ministry is facilitating friendships is a big deal for students’ lives. And it’ll play an important role in keeping students engaged in your ministry past the summer, too.

There are probably a few ways to measure this, but the one that comes to mind right now is simply asking a question or two as part of a broader survey. You can ask – and this is probably a good point in the summer to do it – a simple, “Have you chatted (online, on the phone, or in-person) with another student in our college ministry so far this summer?” Despite the irregular reasons someone might have or might not have, it’ll give you a good average.

In a smaller ministry, you can have these chats directly. Or you’re likely to come up with a better plan for gauging this with your group. But it’s a good gauge, and it might also give you something to foster when the new school year rolls around!

This easily-overlooked opportunity first came up a few years ago; here it is, refurbished!

You’ve got a crop of freshmen coming, and hopefully you have some way to get in touch with them. You might encounter them at Orientation. Maybe you get names from the university, or maybe you have to be more “creative” – working through youth groups in your city or state, connecting with a campus tour, running ads on social media, working through ministry alumni and your present students to connect with incoming students.

But once you have that info, how are you using it? Presumably, the goal is to advertise your ministry.

But what if you did that and MORE? Have you considered helping incoming students do more than just find your ministry?

These students are making eternal decisions right now – selecting roommates, selecting dorms, scheduling classes, getting oriented to campus. They’re thinking about other types of organizations besides college ministry, too.

But you and your student leaders know far more than members of the Class of ’20 know. Why wouldn’t you offer them wisdom about these “sundry details” while you also disciple them about finding a college ministry?

Here’s a former Fridea a little bit updated – and perfect for pursuing this summer.

You might be surprised by the opportunity you have to delegate this summer.

As college students are around town OR back home this summer, it’s a great time see what “little things” they might be interested in accomplishing for the college ministry. Many are likely to have extra free time, and it’s a great way to keep them connected, too.

What’s the list of stuff they could help with? Well, you’ll have to construct that. Some things might be vital to your ministry, others will simply be “can-you-give-me-a-hand” opportunities. Here are ones that come to mind in only three categories to get you started, but it’s worth spending some minutes on your own list…

  • your ministry’s social media: looking for needed updates/fixes to your various platforms, creating new content (text, graphics, videos, etc.), thinking through ways to make it better, getting your web site and other platforms ready for new freshmen (who are already checking them out now), creating a “For Parents” section, looking at what other college ministries (on your campus or otherwise) have done with social media, starting an Instagram/Snapchat/whatever for your ministry…
  • materials prep: creating “personal study” articles about important topics that students ask about, creating advertisements for the upcoming school year, looking for good articles/books worth having available at your campus ministry, creating “swag” like T-shirts or other fun stuff…
  • activity prep: helping with research for messages for the fall, preparing to give messages for the fall, rethinking/brainstorming about your Large Group Meeting, vetting small group curriculum, finding out how other college ministries do their activities, planning start-of-the-school-year activities, planning events for the fall or spring, planning a mission trip, researching potential organizational partners for local service or missions or anything else…

Some of these things require special talent. Some of them require leaders. Some of them are simpler.

But all of them, with the right student, could be moved off of your plate AND moved forward – while giving students more ownership. What else could you delegate?

Enter your email address to get new posts by email.

Welcome to Exploring College Ministry

After ministering to college students for 8 years, I've spent the last 6 years trying to help push our whole field forward. This meant, among other things, a yearlong road trip, an e-book (Reaching the Campus Tribes), exploring 250+ campuses, consulting, writing, speaking, and more. I love any opportunity to serve college ministers or others who want to reach college students better. To learn more, explore the header links or the tools below.



Posts from the Past