Blog Summer Stagnancy by Andrew Brown Congratulations! You’ve survived your BIG Summer Camp/Conference/Mission Trip/Obligatory Summer Youth Ministry Event. The bus has been paid in full; permission slips tucked away in the file cabinet, and that one teen’s sleeping bag is still in your office. Time to kick your feet up and enjoy a few days off of work, right? Wrong. Yes, you should spend time with your family, use your vacation days, and take an actual vacation annually. Yes, you need to feed your primary vocation, spend time in personal prayer, and refuel your faith development. However, too often we slow down on summer youth ministry programming and close up shop missing out on the best opportunities to cultivate great relationships with teens. Following a big summer events we must empower the Core Team, Summer College Core, alumni, parishioners, and Senior leaders to immerse themselves in relational ministry. Make this the most fruitful time for fostering discipleship! Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas to continue “keeping the iron hot” with your teens after the big summer events. Follow-Up! The big summer Events often spark great relationships that become close over a short period. To continue nurturing the relationship follow up has to be the priority. Without it the event can be just be another climactic moment that fails to foster mature disciples. When you recall a conversation from small groups, the bus ride, parish pow-wow, airplane flights, or over breakfast, it shows them that you genuinely care and listen. I can recall two situations in which teens shared with me post-event their experience of God stirring their hearts. They weren’t ready to share that week or weekend but did so after more prayer and reflection. Use the same language that the Camp/Conference/Mission trip used in asking them: “How is their relationship with Jesus being sustained since the event?” “How are things with [a particular situation they had mentioned] since the event has passed?” “What are some summer Spiritual goals that you can help them achieve?” “With whom are they sharing about their encounter with God that summer?” Help them stay close to Scripture Start a Sunday Gospel study (Check out The Summit) Host a “Swim & Scripture” at a parish families backyard pool where you pray then play Give teens the USCCB website to read the daily readings, subscribe them for a month to Magnificat, Word Among Us, or Give Us this Day Stay close to the Sacraments Attend Daily Mass together and have a Cereal Party or go out to breakfast (preferably with bacon) Put together a Saturday afternoon Sacrament of Reconciliation and FroYo or Ice Cream gathering Ask your priest if a few teens can join them when He celebrates Mass or distribute Communion at the local hospital or nursery home Put them to Work Clean the youth room, closet, shed, or, hey since they mess it up, the youth minister’s car Help build Vacation Bible School props, serve as leaders, have them repaint the youth room or cut the grass for the parish’s elderly neighbor Ask them for input with Fall, Winter, and Spring youth ministry programming Field Trips Visit the seminary your Diocesan seminarians attend Visit a house of prayer at a convent or religious community Many teens have summer jobs so go visit them at their place of work and if you can, tip them well Visit a local water parks, lake, beach, or tube down the river. They are always a hit! Host a Guys Night out or a Girls Night Out Visit the graduating seniors new college (if local) and introduce them to the Newman Center, Campus Ministry, or nearby parish If you do any of these your summer time will bear much fruit in the fall.