Summer Lovin’ in the Youth Ministry

TM, ¨ & Copyright © 2002 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.Summer romance is in the air for your student ministry.  And just like Grease, it’s replete with catty girls, bad boys, and all the dating drama leather pants and ferris wheels have to offer.

As you hit that hot rod 15 passenger and head toward beach camp, here are a few tips to cut the drama and increase the ministry:

1.  PDA means something totally different to you than it does your students…so spell it out.  Tell them what the limits are, what the consequences for crossing the line will be, and stick to it.

2.  Spread yourself (and your leaders) out amongst the commoners.  If you’re travelling and all your adults are co-habitating rather than sharing rooms with students, you’re begging for drama…and/or PDA that goes WAY beyond the limits.  That doesn’t mean an adult in every room – that’s not always feasible.  But if your kids know adults are ‘out & about’ rather than enjoying room service and an early turn-in, they’re likely to think twice.  (That doesn’t mean they won’t still be dumb.)

3.  Youth group is NOT their date.  Period. Ever.  A) If that’s the only game they got, they need to practice a little harder.  B) It’s a downer to have to sit five on the couch when four are coupled up.  C) It’s hard to thumb through their Bibles when their hands (and other body parts) are inextricably intertwined.  Kids might ‘shack up’ during trips to amusement parks or summer camp, but I don’t let them sit on, wrap their arms around, or hand-hold one another during Bible study.

4.  Don’t freak out if they hold hands during rec time.  God’s big enough to talk through their extra digits.  If their hand holding looks like foreplay, step in.  (If you don’t know what foreplay is, ask your pastor…yeah, like he knows. Ask the singles minister.)

5.  Don’t engage in the drama.  When he/she breaks up with him/her, just put your arm around the dejected one and remind them that Jesus loves them, they still have a great youth ministry and an OK youth pastor, and the pain will pass.  (Even if what you really want to do is drop-kick the offender and slap some ‘I told you this was gonna happen’ wisdom on the cry baby.)

6.  Enjoy the summer.  Take it from a teenager who survived MANY summer romances, they won’t remember that part of the summer.  Take it from a youth pastor who watched MANY summer romances come and go, they don’t define the summer.  Take it from a camp speaker, the Holy Spirit is big enough to speak through their wamp bamp a loo bamp, a wamp bamp boo.

If all else fails, ban leather pants and bad perms…it’ll all work out in the end.

Author: Darren Sutton

I've been in student ministry nearly 30 years…which generally just confirms how much I still don't know. Some days I'm the pizza-eating, over-responding, teaching-on-the-fly, desperate-for-volunteers, frustrated-with-co-workers youth leader that we all are. And sometimes…I knock it out of the park. I'm everywhere on social media that you are!

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