March is insane. It has arrived faster than you ever thought it would and it feels like summer is going to be here tomorrow. Spring break vacations or mission trips are about to happen, schools are frantically wrapping up and your students are anticipating the end of another year. Along with that there’s just this general craziness that happens to students when it starts to get warm again. Have you ever noticed this? Watch closely. It will appear for the next few weeks, like many of your students have left their brains in February. Yes, March is truly insane.
Along with keeping your sanity throughout the month, there are two things that you should be focusing on in your student ministry: the opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the school campuses in your community, and setting up your summer for success. If you can do these two things well, the madness of March will soon be over and you will be heading into what could be one of the most fruitful seasons of ministry you’ve ever had.
The atmosphere on the school campuses in your community is just as stressful as yours right now. They are experiencing the madness of March right alongside you, which makes your role as a student pastor to the community that much more important. If you can make a positive impact right now, as they make their big push to the end of the year, it will set you up for a great year of campus ministry next fall. Here are some things to think through as you plan your final months of campus ministry:
- Fight the temptation to be less involved now that football and basketball are over. There’s so much more to do with school ministry than just those two sports, and when you are involved in those other things the students, parents, and faculty will notice. Find out what those things are and make it a point to be involved.
- Take a special gift to the office secretaries and administrators. Flowers, chocolate, and baked goods are always a winner with the office staff. They are often the most under-appreciated faculty at the school, but are also the gatekeepers for you.
- Focus on the faculty. Write some thank you notes for the teachers by name, thanking them for the influence they have and the hard work they put in.
- Take the principal to lunch. Obviously, if there is a gender difference here you want to add more people or skip this one entirely.
- If you had some new in-roads develop this year with certain teams or activities on campus, have meetings with those leaders and make sure they know you are willing to continue next year. Also, find out if they have anything going on in the summer that you can serve them with. At my last church, serving pre-game meals to the football team eventually led to us hosting their summer football camp on our church campus. This was an incredible opportunity for ministry that came from asking that simple question.
- Coach your seniors on how to stay engaged in their last few months. They can leave an incredible impression for your ministry, and most importantly for Christ in how they handle their final moments there. Help them to finish strongly on their campus.
- Be prepared for graduations and know the schedule for ceremonies. Whenever possible, meet up with families to offer your congratulations in person at the ceremony. It is a lot of work, but it matters to those parents on a very special and emotional day for them.
Doing these things, and probably others not mentioned, will help you leave a lasting positive impression on the campus and set you up for next fall as school starts back. But what about this summer? I loved summer in student ministry. There’s so much time to take advantage of, if you’re strategic. If not, summer will be over before you know it and you will have missed the opportunity. Planning now will keep you from having that end of summer “I didn’t accomplish anything with these students” feeling.
- Set a day each week when you will meet up with students for lunch. Choosing the same place will help with communication, but will also give you the chance to build relationships with the restaurant workers and perhaps open some doors for ministry there as well.
- Choose curriculum and have students sign up for summer discipleship groups. These groups can meet in addition to your other weekly programming and can provide a different type of discipleship environment than what you can do during the summer.
- Hold one of these discipleship groups at your house. Every summer of my time in student ministry I would host a bible study at my house that my wife and I would lead. As I look back over the years it was this summer bible study group that developed some of the strongest relationships that we had with students and their families.
- Plan for fun. Make sure that you have fun with your students this summer. Publicly plan some of it, but privately plan as well. When you privately plan fun activities with your students it gives the illusion of “spur of the moment” for them, but it’s on your calendar so you know it will happen. If you don’t schedule it, even privately, chances are it won’t end up taking place.
- Serve with your students. For this I’m talking about more than just camp and mission trips. Plan community mission projects that you can do throughout the summer. It would be wise to work with a volunteer or student leadership team to help you pull this off since you are busy with all kinds of other stuff throughout the summer. This is a great opportunity to begin developing leadership within your ministry.
The next three months of your life are going to be crazy. There’s no chance of avoiding that. However, you can have a great ministry season in the midst of the madness by ending well on the school campus and making sure that this summer is an impactful one in the lives of your students.
We would love to hear from you! What are some other ways that you engage schools at the end of the year or prepare for summer ministry? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below to join in the conversation!
This post was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of Lifeway Student Ministry