Ministering to students is easy when there is a natural rhythm and routine for their lives. The fall and spring semesters in school mean we can expect students to be around and present and know when breaks are going to happen.

Youth ministry during the summer, however, is a whole different ballgame! 

We don’t know when students are going to arrive or when they’re going to show up. One week we might have half our usual numbers, and then, next week, it seems like everybody’s in town all at once! 

How can we minister to students well when summer is in full swing? Here are four suggestions:

Plan smaller gatherings

We can usually assume that students are going to be on vacation in the summer. If you normally have a really large group, this might give you a great opportunity to have a smaller gathering and get to know your students individually. Plan on doing something for 10 that you wouldn’t be able to pull off for 30 or 40! Invite them over to your house or another willing volunteer. Circle up for a Bible study discussion rather than teaching at students. Pile into the church van with a volunteer and go get ice cream.

If your group shrinks during the summer, don’t be down about it, take advantage of it!

Host a community service project

It might be hot, but it also might be an excellent time for you to help a local nonprofit or school!

Take your smaller group and go help clean out classrooms for a teacher in your congregation or just offer to pick up trash on school campus.

Getting together with your students and going to serve is a great way to bond, and to show the community that you care about them. It can also be a lot easier to enter into a non-profit your church partners with if you have a smaller crowd. I’ve found service projects get wild when there isn’t enough work for too many willing hands!

Host a Zoom or YouTube party 

Do you remember the coronavirus lockdown? Sorry to bring up that traumatic experience. But we all learned a whole lot about how to host digital youth groups. With our students traveling and away, maybe we can have just one event where it’s all online and brush off our digital group gathering skills!

If digital gatherings was an absolute bust for your group, then ignore this tip and continue meeting in person. But if you know 75% of your students are going to be gone on vacation, maybe you could do a quick 30 minute check in online with a fun screen game.

Personally check in with students

Your students probably fall into one of two categories during the summer: extremely busy or extremely bored.

Either way, they would potentially benefit from a phone call from their youth pastor. It doesn’t have to be long, but a quick check in with your students could mean a lot to them. Especially if they aren’t seeing their friends every day like they do during school. Give them a call and ask them what they’ve been up to during the summer and how you can pray for them. You might get a lot of silence on the phone, but you also might be able to reconnect with a student and remind them that you care about them, even in the craziness of summer.

Just because our students are out of school and out of the regular rhythm routine, it doesn’t mean that we can’t minister to them well! Do you have any suggestions that I missed? I’d love to hear them! Let us know down below.