I watched the youth do all the cooking and preparing: bacon, pancakes, fresh fruit, and clean up. We played a few rounds of one game and then we sat down for bible study. Now, if you've ever been to our Wednesday nights or heard students talk about it, you know that the normal ratios for youth are: 50% games, 15% food, and 35% bible study. This Wednesday was about 50% food, 5% games, and 45% bible study and memory verses. It was very different. But it was also very good.
I watched them laugh and bond and get to be inventive and self-directed. It was more laid back and it focused much more on building individual relationships.
For the past week and half I've been working on the August calendar. I printed out the calendars for every school district my students attend and I made mental notes of their extra-curricular activities and family vacations. During all my planning, I decided that parents are master schedulers to be able to consistently think in terms of their children's schedules in addition to parents' personal schedules.
So, I used Wednesday night as the test night to see how students would respond to a relation-based ministry versus our usual activity-based ministry. Seeing their laughter and smiles made the decision easy. August is going to be focused on relationships!
We will still send out calendars but there will also be non-calendared hang-outs. I want to get to know each student even more, so we'll meet in groups of 2-5 and hang-out with various low-key activities. We will have more "pancake" times together - times with a general structure but plenty of room for flexibility and conversation.
This is also a challenge for you to have "pancake" times with your family. August can be hectic with practices and last minute vacations and school prep. Being intentional with little pieces of time can make a big difference. In high school, I would often volunteer to run errands with my mom because I knew it meant that we would be undisturbed in the car together and we could talk. Now, when I visit home I still run errands with my mom just so we can hang out. So, find your pancake times and maybe in the process make some literal pancakes (the ones with bacon, peanut butter, and chocolate were surprisingly delicious).