Like many student pastors, I struggle with finding time to hang out with students. In the summer, I feel this struggle more than ever. During the school year, most students are too busy to hang out with you anyway, but during the summer, many of them are always looking for something to do. There are days when I’m in my office planning an event, answering emails and recording money coming in for a mission trip, and in the back of my head I know I could be out with some of our students building relationships. Let’s face it, you can’t leave the office and spend every day with students this summer. If you do, you will probably get fired! But how do we manage hanging out with our students this summer while making sure all the office work gets done and our ministry doesn’t fall apart? Here are a few ideas that have helped me spend more time with my students this summer while still getting stuff done in the office.
Get to the office earlier. I wanted to mention this first so I could get it out of the way because, honestly, I suck at this one. I have managed to do it a few times this summer, but it’s always tough since I’m not a wake up at 5 a.m. to read your Bible and pray kind of guy! However, getting to your office early allows you to knock out some work while your students are sleeping in until noon. This way you can hang out with them during the afternoon while knowing you got much off the office work done during the morning.
Take them along with you. Awhile back, I wrote about this idea of taking students along with you while you do stuff during the day. I’ve seen this work great so far this summer! A few weeks ago, I needed to go to Walmart to buy some storage bins for some supplies and I decided to take two of my high school guys along. It was a great time to get to know them better and let them get a glimpse into my everyday life. I love doing this because it allows me to do what I need to do while still hanging out with students! It’s a no brainer! Take students with you when you do stuff during the day this summer!
Do stuff at night. During the summer, students want to stay out late and would rather be out doing something than sitting at home on Facebook or Twitter. So instead of hanging out with them during the day, hang out with them at night! Have them over to your place or meet them for bowling or putt-putt. Either way, look for things you can do with them at night. This will allow you to get office work done during the day and then spend time with students at night. This summer, I have been doing Monday night basketball with our high school guys at a local park. We start playing at 8:00 and play under the lights until 10:00. One caution here for married student pastors and youth workers: Don’t sacrifice your spouse for this! You can click here to read more about my thoughts on keeping your spouse first in student ministry.
Take them out to lunch. Students love food and I do too, so take them out to lunch! When noon hits, you’re ready to get out of the office and grab some lunch, so pick up a student or two and take them with you. I can guarantee that no student will turn you down if you call them and ask if they want to go to lunch and it’s on you! One thing to remember with this is don’t take a student out of the opposite sex if it’s just you two. If you’re married, have your spouse come with you or send them off to have lunch with a student of their same sex.
These are just a few ways I have been hanging out with students this summer while still getting stuff done in the office. Summer is such a great time to do relational ministry with your students, but it takes intentionality and discipline while you still have other things you need to do. What are some ways you are creatively spending time with students this summer?