Blog/CYM Blog Summer Sundays by Chris Turner I can’t help but get excited that summer will soon be here. In the ministry world, it is for a multitude of reasons. I get to travel with my teens to some awesome conferences and mission trips. I get to wear shorts to work. Ice cream is acceptable with any meal. But, I also love the change in schedule. There seems to be a shift to fewer meetings and rigid schedules and more relational time with teens. It would be easy to abandon the fall, winter, and spring schedule completely. And as I write this and feel the tiredness of a great year setting in, I am tempted to do just that. However, I am going to advocate keeping one piece of the ministry calendar intact, perhaps the most important piece. Don’t mess with Sunday nights. At my parish, as with many Life Teen parishes, we have a weekly Life Teen Mass, followed by dinner and a Life Night. It would be easy and tempting to do away with this programming in the summer. After all, our youth ministry staff is away on a variety of trips and Sunday nights take a lot of work. Plus, many of our teens are at other camps, vacations, and events throughout the summer making attendance spotty. Why then, is it a good idea to maintain a Life Teen Mass, dinner, and Life Night? Let me give you three solid reasons. One: Consistency is Key. The teens need a consistent time and place to go (every week when possible) to express and share their faith. Especially because so much of their lives are inconsistent, this helps to provide that environment. Plus, many of the teens have had an amazing encounter at a camp, mission trip, or conference. A consistent schedule helps them to maintain their newly strengthened faith. Two: Mass Doesn’t Deserve a Vacation. Of course, your parish offers other Masses throughout the weekend, but keeping the Life Teen Mass followed by programming shows your teens that Mass is just as important in the summer. It is the foundation of our faith, and our programming must reflect that. Three: The Same, But Different Now before you wonder how in the world you are going to survive summer events along with weekly Life Nights, let me share what we do to avoid a mid-summer breakdown. While we offer weekly programming, it is more intentional to the season and less structured than the rest of the year. Let me explain. Events like swimming at a core member’s pool, playing Frisbee at the park, or watching a movie under the stars take far less time to plan than a normal Life Night, but prove to be an incredibly effective way to continue ministry throughout the summer. In addition, even our catechetical nights in the summer (we do approximately four), offer less structure: normally a talk, some worship, and ice cream to follow. Of course, there are certain weeks that Life Nights (we keep the Mass), just don’t make sense: Memorial Day and Independence Day weekends, for example. But make these weekends’ the exceptions! Invest in Sunday nights throughout the year, and you will see amazing results.