By now, you already have a full lineup of summer programs on the calendar, which most likely includes camp, some fun events, and maybe a missions trip or opportunity for students to serve. 

There’s one more idea I’d like to suggest – easy meetups throughout the summer with 3-5 students and 1-2 leaders.

What purpose could this serve?

  • Bridge incoming students to your junior high or high school ministry in a smaller setting
  • Connect inconsistent or fringe students to one another and leaders
  • Foster a deeper relationship with consistent students in smaller groups
  • Connect with busy students who drop off during the spring and fall due to sports, school or other activities

As mentioned before, I lead a group of 7th grade boys (soon to be 8th graders). Most of them play sports, and not just one. Many are on 2-3 or more teams at a time. Due to spring sports, even the most consistent guys in my group have been spotty in attendance in April & May. So, this summer, I’m capitalizing on their downtime and planning to meet up with them in small groups of 3-5. 

The key is to make the meet ups low prep on your end and easy to put together.

Here are some ideas:

  • Grab a bite to eat after a weekend service (In N Out, Chick-fil-a, pizza, etc).
  • Meet for breakfast on a Saturday morning (IHOP, etc).
  • Invite a few students serving as VBS leaders to get some Gelato or ice cream afterward.
  • Go for a hike somewhere nearby.

A bonus idea is to go a step further and do something BIG with just a few students. My co-leader and I plan on taking four guys in our small group to see a Padres game (baseball) in a few weeks. We’re all very excited about this!

If you have a small group model in your ministry, another bonus idea is to meet up with them several times throughout the summer. Our small group is bigger than 3-5 students. We pull from about 15-18 guys, but on any given Wednesday night, about 8-12 show up. Next week, we invite them all to hang out at one of the boys’ houses. We’re not doing organized games because there is so much to do at his house: inside game room, outdoor games, trampoline, basketball goal, pizza, snacks, etc.

For our context, a mix of meetups with 3-5 students and everyone in the small group (8-12 students) works for us.

One final thought…

Ideally, all the leaders in your youth ministry would do this throughout the summer. Not just you. That way, every student has an opportunity to connect with their peers and leaders.

Written by Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

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