The topic of summer programming is a hot one right now.  Last week Tim Schoyer had a great post about the Seven benefits of shutting down youth ministry programs for the summer and it generated quite the buzz on his blog.  There are some that are for it.  Some that completely oppose it. Some who don’t understand what Tim is talking about.  If you are a youth pastor there is no doubt that summer programming is right at the forefront of your mind as the school year is ending up.  I had a recent conversation with our SP (senior pastor) the other day about this very thing.  Yesterday we continued it a little and will talk even more next week about it.  I think there is some confusion on the whole topic.

Tim does a great job of explaining what he means in his recent update to the post on his blog.  Here’s Tim’s thought behind programming in youth ministry,

First of all, I didn’t mention this in my previous post, but notice that the title was not, Seven Benefits of Shutting Down Youth Ministry for the Summer, with the absence of the word “programs.” In no way am I advocating that we stop ministry, just that was slow down our programming. Remember, programs do not equal ministry. Programs are tools of ministry. They’re here to help us do ministry, but programs are not the ministry.

I couldn’t agree with Tim more.  Programs are great but just because you’re busy doing them doesn’t mean you have an effective ministry.  I came from a church where I was busy doing programs for the ministry 5-6 nights a week.  We had 12 small groups meeting through the week and I was involved in the worship ministry and the audio visual ministry of the church.  I often felt like I wasn’t very effective and as I look back there are things I would do different.  One of those is not be so busy so often.  Ministry happens within the context of relationships not necessarily gatherings.  While gatherings/ programs are good can facilitate ministry they aren’t necessarily ministry in and of themselves.

I am in favor of what Tim says – slow things down a little bit.  People are gone.  Attendance is eratic.  So do things a little more spontaneous.  Have a few planned things but focus on hanging out with students.  Do things with intentionality but yet have the freedom for spontanaeity as well.  Take time this sumer to get to know your students.  Maybe take a road trip somewhere with a few guys.  Have your female leaders do a shopping trip or a day spa with the girls.

Be relational.