Five Key Priorities for a Successful College Summer Ministry
The calendar year in college ministry is dominated by two months: August and September – the start of school. However, summers are the downtime in a college student’s life. This reflection is one of the key factors that led the Little Rock Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) along with our group of amazing churches to rethink our summer strategy and birth the Little Rock Project.
The Little Rock Project is a collaborative effort of the BCM and local area churches to equip and mobilize college students during the summer. Student leaders of the project lead small groups, plan fun events, and create opportunities that foster spiritual formation. This will be our third year of doing the summer project, so we are not experts and there have been bumps in the road.
Summer is an incredible time for hosting events where fun and friendship can be facilitated. Planning these types of events can be as important as small group Bible studies for building relationships and fostering community. Here at the Little Rock BCM, we focus on five key priorities while ministering throughout the summer:
“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” -Proverbs 17:9
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” -Proverbs 18:24
Summer is the season for friends. When I was in college, my friends and I would go on road trips to various sporting events throughout the United States during breaks. We would go to four different cities on four consecutive days and watch different teams and sporting events take place. We were all big sports fanatics so that fit our schedule and personalities. In the same vein, some of the best friendships that I have were forged while serving in summer missions during college.
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” –1 Timothy 6:12
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11
For students, summer is not only a time to work and make money for the fall semester. It can also be a time to explore and be invigorated by the world that God has made. Timothy encourages followers to “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called,” and Psalms says God makes known to us the path of life. Summer in college ministry is a great time to plan outdoor events, go on road trips, and serve in various capacities that are outside of our normal routine of life.
“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” – Matthew 9:37-38
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:24
Summer break is such a key time for evangelism because a few things have happened. Students have gone on different paths. They are possibly returning home, which can create conflict with their parents.
It can be an especially opportune time to minister to freshmen, who have just finished up their inaugural year at a university in one of three ways. We have labeled these: released, redo and regret.
The released student will be empowered to reconnect and rekindle relationships from high school or hometowns. The student in the “redo” phase gets to start their redo. Summer is a transitional time; it allows for someone looking to redo a fresh start with familiar faces. And last, the “regret” student gets to follow a similar path as the redo student. No better time to claim faith and cling to Christ in a season of transition than there is during the summer. All these phases make the avenue of evangelism an opportunity.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” -Hebrews 13:16-17
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” -Proverbs 27:17
These two verses highlight a glorious and simple truth that is found during the months of summer, and that is accountability. Summer tends to make people a little more upbeat and energetic. They feel better about who they are and are sometimes a little bit more realistic with themselves. Cultivating accountable relationships between a friend with whom you have a lot of trust or an older person whom you consider a mentor can be key to flourishing during the summer.
- Discipling Relationships
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” -2 Timothy 2:2
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” -1 Corinthians 11:1
Discipling relationships during the summer can be a game-changer in the life of a college student. One big reason is that you only have 10 weeks, forcing you to be very intentional with your time. One summer, I worked in a mission’s capacity. My boss, a person that I have considered to be a long-time mentor, and I shared the same room. We got to talk all the time. He was a few years older than I was, but for that summer we got to not only have a working relationship where he encouraged and challenged me to do ministry, but I got to have a lot of third-space moments where he talked me through the process for making certain decisions and how he had gotten to where he was. That summer was an invaluable experience in my life because of his discipleship.
Including these five priorities in your summer ministry will provide a framework for making a difference in the lives of students of any age.