Month of June is filled with summer opportunities for church youth

Published 1:38 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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It is June, and we have just stepped into it. Like most months, a lot of opportunities await us. 

We get to enjoy the Summer solstice this month (June 20th this year) – the astronomical beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, that time when Earth tilts her northern pole toward the sun while spinning daily on her axis and rotating around the sun, much like a gorgeous sunflower tilting its flowery head towards the sun’s rays. 

It’s the month of Vacation Bible Schools, and a number of churches in the area are having their Bible School in the next week or so. It’s a summer tradition for most families.

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Did you go to VBS as a kid? Ever teach it? Wonder what those initials mean? I remember going to Bible School as a kid, and I have fond memories of teaching it as an adult. So many of our holidays relating to the Bible are during the school year. Christmas, Easter, Lent, Holy Week. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great Bible stories to tackle – and re-enact – in the summer.

In addition to Bible School, there are church retreats, mission trips, school supply giveaways, and so much more. For many teens and young adults, summer means more engagement with the church. Camp requires counselors. VBS needs teachers and actors. And everything requires chaperones. Otherwise serious people sing silly songs, do crazy skits and visit remote, less developed places.

Memories are made, fellowship is deepened, and faith grows.

Whether or not we realize it, these summer ministries take many shapes and sizes, but they are all kingdom work. Little churches have a big VBS, and larger churches do small acts of service. Every cup of cold water, and especially cookies and Kool-Aid, reflects the love and hospitality of Christ.

For some communities, VBS and school supply drives represent the most direct engagement churches have with our neighbors. Families that normally drive past the church building find themselves standing inside, met with a warm greeting and simple generosity.

Church camps welcome students to escape the routines of life and experience faith in new ways. For far too many kids, camp is the most stable, loving environment they will experience all year.

We are often reminded of the challenging realities facing the church today. More Americans attend fewer religious services. Millennials are less engaged with religious communities than ever before. And the percentage of high school students walking away from the church after graduation is depressing.

But summer is a burst of energy launched in defiance of depressing statistics. Children are welcomed, showered with attention and shown the way of Jesus. Teens are counseled, and genuine mentoring takes place. Neighbors both near and far often hear and see more of the church in summer than at other times.

Neighborhood kids will always remember the church for its good cookies, free school supplies and stories of Jesus. Relationships built at church camps become lifelong friendships. And people in far-off places will remember the week “that church” came to build houses, played with children and changed their life with the Gospel.

The real challenge is for the church not to sit out the rest of the year.

Once summer ends and the school year begins, ministry staffs and youth ministers collapse, catching their breath from the whirlwind of ministry. With fall comes more opportunities to serve the church and our neighbors, followed by winter, spring and back to summer.