Thursday, April 26, 2012

Summer 101: SHO-Time!

It's almost May.  Still need help with your church's summer student ministry calendar?  Summer 101 is here every Friday to help!  Help your church make the most of the very best season of the year for youth ministry- SUMMER!

One of the most popular ideas I ever came up with for my student ministries was called SHO-Time (Senior High Only).  The origin was simple enough.  For most of my 28 years as a youth pastor our high school students and middle school students met together on Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights.  I wanted to begin doing some special programming that would allow each of those groups to do things on their own.  SHO-Time was a no-brainer.  I just picked a night and a restaurant and invited our high school students to meet me there, or to meet at the church if they need a ride.  I began the program in 1988; it was still going strong at a 5th different church when I left the ministry in 2007.  

Although SHO-Time began as a once-a-month school year event, it was also a staple of our summer programming.  The laid back, no "school night" limits atmosphere of summer allowed us to visit restaurants that were farther away or required more time to eat.  We always tried to alternate the more expensive places with cheaper ones to keep things affordable.  And during the summer we would often find ways to hang out after the meal, whether by going back to the church or out to a movie or miniature golf.  It just made for another awesome night of fellowship. Plus, it is a wonderful event in which to include your family.  My son Will grew up thinking every kid got to eat out with awesome high school students like he did!

SHO-Time can be easily adjusted to fit your group's needs.  If you already split high school and middle school students, then you could use it to do something special for your 11th and 12th graders.  I found that it was a good way to connect with students who may have "dropped out" of youth group- everyone loves to eat!  It's always cool to do something special for your older youth- and their friends! This is another simple program that attracts new students like flies to a smelly church van.  

One final note about SHO-Time (and this is HUGE):  No matter if there is only 1 student who shows up, NEVER cancel it.  When I started the program at FUMC-Kissimmee, the first couple of times only 1 youth (Connor Lewis, pictured above) showed up. We had a blast, and word quickly spread that this was a great evening of fun and fellowship.  Within a few months, SHO-Time became a big deal.  Never quit on your kids.  You can't make anyone feel important if the message you send is, "Just you is not enough."  It's all about relationships, not numbers.  (A side note: As I edit this post I just saw a tweet from a youth pastor praying that "our SMALL group will be BIGGER than ever tonight."  Dysfunction Junction, thy name is so often ministry...)  But if you are looking for an event that will get everyone talking,  join me next Friday.  It's time to put some mystery in your ministry...

Because of Jesus,

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