See How the Other Half Lives
Want to broaden your horizons this summer? Talk to your youth group leader about having some events to see how "the other half" lives. You can do fun events or service projects to become a more well-rounded person or youth group. Here are some ideas to get started:
1. Adopt a Gran
Adopt one or more senior citizens this summer, perhaps having a team of students adopt each person or couple. Have the team regularly do things like mow their lawns, trim their hedges, wash their cars, go grocery shopping, and check to see what other needs they may have (feel free to call on adults in the church who have the skills to help meet any technical needs). Take your adopted Grans to a fireworks display or picnic or other happenings they may not be able to attend alone (especially if it involves driving after dark).
2. Partner with another church for ministry
Partner with an inner-city church to help with a program for teens during the summer. You might want to sponsor a VBS for the kids or help with a sports program to keep kids off the streets and in a safe environment during the hot evening hours.
Or, you might go into the country to have a VBS for rural kids. Perhaps you can help pull together something for the community.
You can also join forces for a fundraiser (car wash or cow wash just might be a good idea!). Raise money for a specific project, for the other church's youth group, or for a fellowship event together!
And how about worshiping together? This is especially fun cross-culturally. Make plans with another youth group to worship with them in one of their church services. You might enjoy some of the differences.
You'll probably find some new friends"and learn that people have most of the same needs no matter their social status or location!
3. Partner with another church for fun
For a rural church, that might mean coming into the city for a mall extravaganza. For a city church, a day out in the country might be a blast. Remember, variety is the spice of life!
4. Get a taste of parenting
Give the parents in your congregation a break by offering at least one "parents' day out" during the summer. Line up teen volunteers and plan activities, games, snacks, whatever it will take to keep the little ones busy while their parents have a free day to shop, have a date with their spouses, or lounge around the house without worrying about the kids.
You can also provide free babysitting for an evening or day when something is going on in town. Perhaps offer free babysitting while parents attend a church-run seminar or local concert.
If you're really industrious, be the catalyst for a summer weekly Bible study for moms who are at home with their kids. You can partner with the church's women's ministry to find a speaker to lead the study and line up teens to provide a program for the kids while their moms enjoy their own Bible study and fellowship.
5. Find a Vision
Check with your church's Nazarene Missions International (NMI) leaders to brainstorm ways to help your youth group explore the world! This can be as simple as a presentation about another world area outside your own that NMI supports (complete with snacks that would be common to the region), or a fund-raiser for a special project in that world area (such as building wells), or a hunger-fast together setting aside the money you'd use during that time for food and putting it in an offering for a third-world country.
Okay, you don't really want to blow your whole summer on Minecraft, Facebook, or Manga magazines, do you?
Besides getting involved in some of the things we've already listed, here are some more ideas and challenges to make your summer sizzle personally and spiritually.
1. The B-I-B-L-E
It's not just a song you sang when you were a kid or something referred to in youth group meeting. Make a goal to read a book, the Old or New Testament, or even the whole Bible this summer.
And if you're in the fundraiser mode, get your friends to join you in a Bible-thon.
2. "I ate your words"
The psalmist talks about "eating" God's Word. Have your own snacks this summer by ingesting God's Word through memorization. Memorize a verse a week. Pick verses you like, or ask people in your church to tell you the verses that mean the most to them.
3. Get outdoors!
Get in the habit this summer of getting out of the house and away from the computer (and put the iPod away for a few hours). Try a new activity even if it's a neighborhood water balloon fight at night. Learn to be a lifeguard.
4. Give your parents heart attacks
Clean a room of the house without being asked.
5. Redecorate your bedroom
Give a new look to your personal space. What can you put in your room décor that will remind you to nurture your soul as well as your body and intellect?
6. Explore your creativity
Do you like to draw? Keep a summer journal of artwork—a notebook you can draw in every day—or become the neighborhood sidewalk chalk artist (and take photos of your creations). Or write poems. Create a worship song. Do some creative thing you haven't done before.
7. Go to camp
Your district Nazarene Youth International (NYI) has a great summer camp or can direct you to one. Also, you can find camps that have different focuses: art, music, cartooning, drama, adventure. These may cost you some money, so come up with a way to earn it.
8. Start a business
Lawn mowing or landscaping. Window cleaning. Taking care of pets while their owners are on vacation. Choose something you think you'd do well, create a one-page advertisement, and drop it off at homes in the neighborhood or at local businesses.
Be your youth worker's intern for the summer. Help at a day camp. Offer your services to help care for animals at the local animal shelter. Be prepared to say, "I'll help!" and you'll have lots of fun and learn great new skills!
10. Start a prayer team
Get together with some of your Christian friends to pray each week. Maybe you can pray together for an hour and then go have lunch together. Ask your youth worker or pastor or look on the Internet for formats to follow in praying. You can pray for people in your church, your community, and the world. Praying doesn't always bring obvious or immediate answers, but it's one of the most important things we can do to help us, connect with each other, and grow closer to God.
Let us know your ideas by sharing them at www.facebook.com/holinesstoday.
Compiled by Jeanette Gardner Littleton.
Holiness Today, May/June 2012