What does this summer hold for you? What does it hold for your young people? In some places school is out. And so the summer challenge begins. For others, the summer challenge will start later because school gets out later—June/July.
Now , there are different types of summer challenges. Scholastic has a Summer Reading Challenge. There’s “The Figura Challenge” for the adventurous. There are others. What’s yours? Your summer challenge is to use the time for a new view.
Summer Challenge Part 1—Notice
Young people will be up and about. You’ll see them in the stores, driving on the road, walking along the way, hanging out in the mall, or on the street corners. Even though technology means that some are more indoors than before, there is still a significant number who are moving around in your view. So take notice.
Notice what they do, where they go, the kind of numbers they move in. Young people often move in groups. How are the groups similar? How are they different? Is everyone moving in a group? How are those who move by themselves different from those who move in a group?
Above all, notice their expressions, especially their eyes. What story are they telling? In other words, see past the exterior.
Some will have more time on social media. What do the posts say on and below the surface?
Summer Challenge Part 2 —Respond
It’s not enough to notice. Respond. Make eye contact with youth. Acknowledge their presence. Give a smile of encouragement. Give a “God bless you.” When appropriate, engage in conversation. Find out what they’re doing, their hopes. Encourage them to dream.
In addition, respond in prayer. As you begin to see beneath the exterior, pray for them.
Why does it matter? All young people are God’s people. As a youth worker, your concern has to be broader than your group. You may not be able to have them all in youth ministry in the church. However, as you move around be aware of, communicate with, and carry in your heart these young people for whom Jesus Christ died.
If you take the challenge, by the end of summer you should have added at least 10 new youth for whom you are praying regularly and 5 youth with whom you have spoken that have not been a part of your faith community. In addition, you will have a clearer picture of who and where young people are. Are you ready?
Living fully. Living faithfully. Following Christ.
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net