Summer may be winding down, but it’s not over yet! We are praying that you’ll have times of deep rest in the gospel, and also times of meaningful connection with your students. Here are some of our favorite summer resources as you make the most of these last several weeks of summertime to share the Good News of God’s grace in Jesus.
For Your Summer Service and Missions Opportunities:
Preparing Students for a Short-Term Missions Trip by Philip Walkley
It can be easy for students to think they are going to change the world through a short term mission trip. And while they can do good, your students are not saviors. They cannot change people’s lives. They are not the ones who “have it all together” coming to serve those who “need help.” Only Jesus can do that. Rather, your students, just like those they wish to serve, are poor and in need of a savior. They are simply coming alongside others in whom God is already at work, and they serve in response to what Jesus has already done for them through his death on the cross for their sins. Reminding your students of this before a trip is so crucial.
When preparing to go, it is easy to fall into the grandeur of crossing cultures, and all we talk about is the trip itself, even in our trainings. However, what I am suggesting is that we first talk about God and then about missions. If we talk about missions first, or only, it will likely come across as just another program or trip. If we want to make the most of the discipleship opportunity we have with our students through these short-term trips, we must help them to see their going as more than one trip or event, but as an act of obedience toward their Savior and King.
In this podcast, Cameron Cole (Director of Children, Youth, and Family at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, AL) sits down to discuss the common mistakes we make on youth mission trips with seasoned missions experts, Philip Walkley and Drew Haltom. Philip is the Executive Director of Service Over Self (SOS) Ministries in Memphis, and Drew is a pastor at Christ City Church in Memphis.
For Relational Discipleship with Students:
Quick Tips for Contact Work with Teenagers by Charlotte Getz
Things like coffee, ice cream, breakfast, and weekly card games can eventually lead to transformative conversations about faith, or even the formation of a small group Bible Study. Even if they don’t, there is still a critical spiritual value that you, a Christian leader, would convey to a student through your time and communication, “I want to hang out with you.” This is a precious reflection of Jesus who, of his own accord, entered into each of our own messy and chaotic lives so he could be with us forever.
First, let’s talk about how you interact with girls in your group on a personal level. Think about Jesus. Jesus did not avoid women, nor did he consider women a threat to his personal integrity. He looked them in the eyes and cared for their souls as he would with anyone else. So don’t be weird around the girls in your group. They are, in Christ, your little sisters (1 Tim. 5:2), so treat them as such.
We asked several experienced youth ministers about their goal and approach when meeting with a student one-on-one. We hope their wisdom sparks insight and ideas in your own relational ministry.
For Bible Teaching (This Summer and Beyond):
Teenagers Want You to Teach With Depth by Skyler Flowers
We often think that in order to reach young people, they must be at the center of our planning and teaching. However, this is exactly the problem. That a large portion of young people who have left the church find God to not be central to their experience of church is not separate from the failure to focus on the centrality of the gospel but its direct result.
Youth Minister, Your Students Need Bible Teaching Now More Than Ever by Chelsea Kingston Erickson
When we re-gather with our students, it will be tempting to focus only on the fun elements of summer ministry in effort to re-engage them. Teenagers have had a lot taken from them these past few months, and surely our job includes noticing this pain and inviting them back into joy-filled friendships. We will need to rebuild a sense of community in our groups, having been apart for so long. But if our efforts end with building community, we will miss our high calling to saturate students with the gospel, to help them love Jesus more by learning to study and to love God’s written Word.
Rooted’s curriculum offerings are designed to help you prepare for teaching your students. Each study includes a leader guide with a memory verse, a gospel-tie in, a weekly review of previous lessons, inductive Bible study discussion questions, and more. Sermon illustrations are included in the lessons and on the Rooted Reservoir website, too. There’s also a student guide included that helps your students follow along as you go through the lesson together. With much of the prep work done for you (and your volunteers), you’ve got time to dive into the Scripture ahead of your students, free to enjoy the process without the pressure.