Things I Didn’t Learn In A Classroom

After ten summers in student ministry I thought I would write down a list of the things I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way. Here we go……

  1. You will always get weird looks buying supplies for the next event from Walmart. Who else buys pool noodles, shot glasses, a slinky, pickled pig’s feet, spam, and 100 ping-pong balls in the same purchase?
  2. Always. Point. Them. To. Jesus.
  3. Camp still works. When you’re at camp with your students join them during rec and don’t be too cool to lather on some face paint to rep your squad during rec. Have fun; don’t take yourself too seriously—even if you did get hosed in a Singing Bee competition.
  4. Dodgeball is still a fan favorite. Sometimes students don’t need an over produced event that you’ve been planning for 6 months; they need a pool or slip-n-slide and hot dogs. Don’t just plan an event, participate. Ask for help. Don’t do it alone.
  5. Don’t take the summer off just because you’re students are out of school. Be intentional; both planned and spontaneous. If they have a job, stop by to see them. If they play a sport, show up after conditioning with an ice chest full of Gatorade. Never underestimate the impact a cherry-limeade can have. Students like food and their friends do too: invite them to lunch.
  6. Coffee. Lots of coffee.
  7. Getting on school campuses is still effective. Build relationships with students, administration, teachers, coaches, and resource officers.
  8. Don’t forget the parents. Build trust by building relationships.
  9. Connect your graduated seniors to the college-aged ministry in your church BEFORE they leave for school in the fall. Also, give them the names of some churches near where they will be living to get plugged in to.
  10. On a mission trip something unexpected always happens.
  11. Students can change the world, like Jack Andraka. God still uses students to impact and influence the church, Like Zach Hunter.
  12. Spend quality and quantity time with your family when you’re not traveling. Set a quick pace, but don’t forget to Sabbath. In the hectic pace of the summer schedule don’t forget to carve out time for you and Jesus.
  13. Make sure students understand what a red flag warning means at beach camp. No joke. Seriously, not a joke.
  14. Students are more likely to respond positively when you ask them to do something rather than bark orders at them like a drill instructor at Paris Island.
  15. Don’t shy away from having the tough conversation with a student. After all, our job does not afford us the luxury of skirting the tough issues.
  16. Sometimes the best way to learn is to jump into the deep end.

Here’s to many, many more summers investing in the lives of students, parents, and families.

What’s on your list?

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