The Importance of Summer Ministry—

If you’ve yet to watch my short 3-minute video on the importance of summer ministry, click here to watch it and get a quick overview of what I’d like to share with you here.

First, in the midst of our very busy schedules, why in the world should we do summer ministry? Isn’t summer a time to recoup from the past year’s hectic programs? Isn’t summer a time to spend with family and friends, enjoying the relationships He has given us, and getting our “tanks” filled back up by enjoying each other’s company, laughing, and playing together?

Yes, I believe that is true.

And it is for that reason I also believe that summer can be one of the most critical seasons of the year. For all the reasons above, we should engage our covenant and community families.

Furthermore, I believe 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13 exhorts us to do this. Yes, the context of this passage is not specifically about summer, but the universal principle related to relational engagement and its impact on our ability to spread the gospel, which the apostle Paul is speaking of here, is absolutely what summer ministry is all about.

At the heart of summer ministry is the creating of opportunities for relational engagement, helping families to build trust with the local church, so they naturally want to go to church—not because it’s a club or some institution they must attend, but because it’s the greatest family they will ever encounter, where there are people who desire to share their lives with them.

In addition to our covenant kids, summer ministry is important because it creates opportunity to engage our community kids in ways we were unable to do during the past school year. I believe John 13:34-35 speaks directly to this: “all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

As we prepare amazing, relationally engaging opportunities with our covenant kids, our community kids will witness and experience how deeply we love one another. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?! I mean, if you saw someone being dearly and sacrificially loved, wouldn’t you be drawn to that?

Look at Matthew 5:13-15, where Jesus exhorts us in His Sermon on the Mount to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. As we all know, salt is a mineral that creates thirst. When our church’s community encounters us, they will become thirsty for what we have—Jesus! And what about the light? We’re not lamps or flashlights, so what is Jesus talking about? Throughout Scripture God uses the metaphor of light to describe Himself, and Jesus Himself declares in one of His seven I Am statements to be the light of the world. When we relationally engage our community, the light of Jesus shines out from us, and our community is drawn away from the darkness to the security His light provides.

I don’t know about you—this all sounds great, but very daunting and overwhelming. How in the world can a children’s director pull this off?

To be honest, I do not recommend doing a whole lot beyond VBS unless you are able to get support, either from a core group of volunteers (parents, young adults, empty nesters, etc.), or better yet, summer staff. I have traditionally sought out college-aged students through making connections with various RUF ministers, and because most of the churches I worked with in the past did not have the resources to pay them, I had them raise support. (Let me know if you’d like help to figure this out. Hint: it’s about way more than raising money!) If possible, I work hard to convince our session that summer ministry is very important, and we must consider this as a huge investment in the mission of our church and so we must budget for it.

With that, whether training volunteers or paid staff, your job is to train and equip them to run the various relationally engaging activities you believe God is leading you to do. This frees you up to still get rest, to engage with families in the church, and to prepare for the coming year.

Prayerfully consider your summer ministry as more than programs to distract your families. Consider how God is calling us to relationally engage both our covenant kids as well as our community kids with the gospel. God says if we ask, He will give us the wisdom. So, pray for the wisdom needed to decide how you will do this, but be sure you also pray He will give you favor with your session, as well as members of your church to join your summer ministry team in developing the mission God is calling you to do.

Joseph Parker is the Family Pastor at Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church. For the past 30 years he has served in church plants to large size churches, from inner city to suburban settings. He has a passion for relationally engaging both our covenant as well as our community families with the gospel, equipping adults to disciple our next generation in such a way they grow to become Christ-changed, hope-filled, productive adults. Joseph is head over heels in love with his wife Kelly for nearly 20 years, and are parents of their adopted boys Jacob and Makiah.