Spring Break! Have those words gone from causing you joy as a student and young adult to causing you chest pains as a pastor? No more, student pastor, don’t fear spring break again! If you have been doing ministry for a while you have probably found the rhythm of your area. If you don’t have a pulse on your calendar, I would highly encourage you to have a school calendar handy and make a plan for the year so you know what is coming. This allows you to be proactive instead of reactive.
spring break can be one of those times pastors and volunteers feel like we are surviving instead of striving.
Spring Break is a tipping point when momentum is lost and if we are not careful it can be absent until August. Fighting for the eternity and future of the next generation is too important to not fight the cultural pull on our students. Here are some concepts and specific examples that have been game changers in our student ministry at Faith Promise church.
[Tweet “Fight for the eternity & future of the next generation.”]
one. find the win
What does your church want out of Spring Break? Are you looking for a record attendance (not likely), a night to pour into your student leaders, or a relationship building night? There is no right answer here. What does your student ministry need at this time in the year? It is crucial that we answer this question beforehand because if we don’t know the win it is impossible to plan. Also, if we plan on having a “normal” service, then getting frustrated with the students and volunteers for not coming is an unfair response. Their life/routine is not normal that week so why would we expect church to be normal that week? We cannot be lazy and the first way we do that is to find the win.
At fpStudents, we use Spring Break to boost our commitment and confidence in the next generation through “Student Takeover.” We work with 2-4 students from each campus and let them teach that night. They invite more friends and it helps build the next generation.
two. plan ahead
You can know when Spring Break will be as soon as the school calendar comes out in August. This gives us time to get a plan of attack together around “the win” we have established. To have volunteers, money, and momentum for anything we want to do, it takes time and a plan. You have to sit down with great thinkers, student and adults, and cast the vision of the win to them and make a plan to turn it into a reality.
At fpStudents, we have 5 locations that all do student ministry. We start planning for Spring Break at the beginning of February, at the latest. This gives us time to know what we need and get the resources and volunteers needed.
[Tweet ” To have volunteers, money, and momentum for anything we want to do, it takes time and a plan.”]
three. connect through relationships
This is something that our ministry relies on year-round. However, at times like Spring Break and Summer working through relationships is even more valuable. After a youth ministry grows past 15 to 20 students it is impossible for one person to have all the relationships. You need to have other volunteers and leaders in the lives of the students. Once you have built this leadership or care structure you can lean on it in times like Spring Break. You can have those people leverage those relationships to have people attend despite the brief freedom of schedule.
At Faith Promise, we are a church that emphasizes small groups. So, student ministry is no different. Our students meet in small groups every week with 1 to 2 leaders. Two weeks out from Spring Break, we start asking our leaders to tell their students we want them to be here on Spring Break. We are huge on consistency so we want them to know we will be here and would love to have them.
four. use the world around you
We are not to be of the world. However, we are in the world and should use it to our advantage. If you plan ahead and get your senior leadership behind it, this night does not have to look like every other night. You can partner with local businesses, beloved attractions, or anything that is attractive to your students. We want to not only pastor our congregation but our community and using local “leverage” helps us do that. Long story short, there is nothing in the world short of sin that we will not baptize for the use of getting students involved!
Close to our campuses we have a shaved ice place everyone loves so we promote that we are having that for an after party. We have also a company locally that does a portable laser tag that we will use from time to time. We will play off local sporting events such as rivalry games in high school and college football.
five. offer something to the students who are not there
One of our values I mentioned earlier was consistency. I believe students, for the most part, do not get much spiritual consistency in their lives. For this reason, make something available for students who cannot come or even for the ones who chose not to. You can provide a blog, some questions on social media, or a post on Instagram or Facebook Live. This let’s them know you care about them outside the walls of the church.
At fpStudents, we put all of our messages online and on our fpstudents app in hope that students will watch when they miss and will invite friends through it. However, we intentionally go beyond that on times like Spring Break. One thing we do is Instagram Live and we give stuff away to students who participate. We ask questions and have fun while dropping truth to the students who tune in.
[Tweet “Make something available for students who cannot come or even for the ones who chose not to. “]
six. pick your battles
You are not just a student pastor! Your job should actually be down the list behind being a man or woman of God, husband or wife, or other responsibilities God has given to you. Our Senior Pastor tells the staff at Faith Promise that, “you cannot run wide open all year.” This means you need seasons of rest. Spring Break week might be a good week to take a day off with the family or catch up on schoolwork or housework. Please do not let your identity and self worthy be tied up in the choice of a twelve year old coming to church or not. We want to do ministry for the long haul and to do that we have to be smart and have times where we rest.
Earlier I mentioned that we have students preach on Spring Break in something we call “Student Takeover.” We do this not only to build up the students but also to give the Pastor a night off from preaching. This way, they can have that time with their families or build relationships with people within their student ministry.
[Tweet “We want to do ministry for the long haul & to do that we have to have times where we rest. “]
seven. recover momentum
If for some reason you choose to cancel over Spring Break, you will have a lot of momentum to recover. Missing a night of ministry kills momentum! It is important to put just as much planning into Spring Break that you put into the first week students are back in school. We have to be proactive and fight for our students because everyone else including the enemy is fighting for their hearts as well. There are more things pulling for a student’s attention now than ever so let’s not be “out of sight-out of mind” but intentionally pursue our students.
At fpStudents, the week after spring break our student pastors and some volunteers hit schools hard. We go and spend time with the students, mostly at lunches, and let them know that we cannot wait to see them at church. Small group leaders are also asked to make an extra effort to invite them back. We have had a bonfire night at a campus and even had a UT football player come and be interviewed for our students. Recovering momentum is a must.
These are some of the things we do and I hope you find them useful. I believe they honor God. God has blessed FpStudents with hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of baptisms, and thousands of students and I believe that is due to being intentional with every week. God’s presence and favor is all that matters. However, we must do our part to put our self and ministry in line with His presence and favor.
*bonus not just for spring break but year around*
keep records of the past
It is massively important for you and your volunteers to have a scoreboard to know if you are winning or not. To make sure this happens keep a detailed record of how your service or event went and if you accomplished your win. This way you can know if this is something you want to build on each year or if you want to try something new next year. It is not wise to rely on your memory of what happened last year. Referring to notes is not only comforting but also wise.
At Faith Promise, We keep notes on a weekly basis so we can check to see if we are winning year after year. The metrics we keep include: attendance, number of groups, average group attendance, and decisions made.