Summer is a magical time to take leaps and bounds ahead in relational ministry. School is out of session, students have extra time on their hands, and things in the office are a little slower so you have the time to get out and do things with them.
But planning events in the summer can be so hit or miss. Besides summer camp (and even then sometimes) it can be so difficult to plan events when students are in town or do not already have some awesome summer activity going. Many times I plan an event, spend time, money and effort putting it together and then nowhere near the number of students I was expecting show up. Students are either out of town, already doing something, or totally forget it is happening (even though I communicate it five different ways for weeks).
So, what do you do? It seems silly to waste the summer potential for relational ministry and fun times. But it is also crazy to spend so much time and effort for yet another flop.
Here is what I have been doing that is zero prep, low risk and very high reward.
I am not the first to come up with this, youth workers have done this for many years, and it really isn’t earth shattering but I started doing it this summer and it has been awesome.
Each week I pick a different place and let students know via social media where I will be on a certain day between such and such times and they have the freedom to stop by if they want to.
For example, last week I sent a tweet out and posted on Instagram that I would be at Starbucks from 10 am until Noon on Thursday and if they stopped by I would buy their drink. I loaded up a gift card and left it with the barista at the register. When students came in all they had to do was tell the barista they were with us and they would charge the gift card. I brought a few card games, found a big table and just hung out. It was awesome because if no one showed up, it would be fine. I had my laptop and I would work just the same as if I was in the office. If one or two students showed up, I would have some really good intimate conversation. If eight or 10 students showed up it works, or if I have 25 students show up, we take up a few more tables but it still works.
It might be a coffee shop, the all you can eat pizza joint, donut shop, smoothie shop or park. It looks different every week and it might look different in every single context but the principle is the same; a very low-risk event that can be an amazing chance for relational ministry. You may not have a budget and you can’t offer to pay for students orders, and that is okay. You may not have other leaders to be there with you, and that is okay as well. The beauty of these events is they are as customizable as they need to be.
With little to no planning, little to no cost, and nothing lost no matter what the outcome of the event is, it is the perfect summer activity. Hangouts are a flop-proof activity that will boost your relational ministry, allow for many summer activity opportunities and save you the inevitable stress and time consumption that comes with planning summer events.
Todd has been in youth ministry for 10 years and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com
***This post was originally posted by Youth Specialities