Whether you are in a church whose schedule speed doubles in the summer, or slows to a hault, the summer season can be a time of unintentional disconnection from the leaders that we depend on for everything that happens in our ministries! The summer season can be challenging because many of your leaders will spend time taking advantage of the freedom to vacation with their families which will bring some level of inconsistency, and you will likely be gone more than normal. Between camps, mission trips, your own family vacation, and whatever else may be in the mix for you, summer season can be a real challenge. So how do you stay connected and maintain the momentum that you built up during the spring?
- Plan ahead for some cookouts at your house! Planning ahead should be a principle that stays in your mind for everything that you do, but here we are specifically talking about planning times to connect ahead of time. Summer can be a great time to have your leaders over to your house for a cookout. One of the best things that I ever did was to start having our leaders over to our house to just hang out. NO AGENDA, just hang out! Set up some cornhole boards outside, bring home some tables and chairs from the church if you need seating and just have fun! And if you plan this ahead of time, (as in 6 months to 1 year ahead of time) your leaders will be able to put it down as one of their summer plans. This can be a great time to connect and you may be surprised at how some simple moments of intentional connection can lead to longevity for your volunteers.
- Communicate your summer schedule early and often. Here again, planning is a big part of the equation. Leading into the summer you want to make sure that your leaders are perfectly clear on what is happening, what the needs are, and how they fit into the plan. Too many times student pastors throw all of their last minute requests on their leaders, and this can be frustrating for them when they already have plans. Nobody likes to live in a state of crisis all of the time. So plan your calendar, think through the details, and communicate well with your leaders.
- Keep recruiting. A big part of keeping the momentum in your ministry is keeping a strong base of leadership to help you accomplish all that needs to be done, but the other part is always looking for new help. Every summer you are going to have some leaders drop. Some of these you will celebrate and some of these you will mourn, but the key here is always having the next crop of leaders on deck. The good news is that there is never a shortage of work so even when I had more that I knew I could use, I was always able to find work for more!
Whatever you do, make sure that you are actively working toward making sure that your leaders feel valued and a part of the mission. A leader who is underappreciated and confused will never be around very long.
This post was written by John Paul Basham, Manager of LifeWay Student Ministry Publishing