In youth ministry, the school year is pretty much the same for everyone. We have Sunday responsibilities, office hours, midweek programs, contact ministry, and stuff like that. But I’ve found that summer is highly unique.
Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Jake Kircher to ask him a few questions about his summer, both from a ministry perspective as well as what he’s doing with his family.
If you don’t know Jake, he’s virtually a Cartel staffer. He leads Open Boston, authored Teaching Teenagers in a Post-Christian World, is the writer for our popular THINK curriculum, and starting this Fall will lead our first YMCP cohort focused on youth ministry in post-Christian contexts. Besides the stuff he does with us he’s also a pastor at Grace Community Church in Connecticut, a husband and dad. Pretty much the only thing I don’t like about Jake is his love of the Red Sox. That just doesn’t make sense to me. At all.
Adam: So, you’ve been at your church for a while now… What’s summer look like in your ministry?
Jake: Honestly, summer gets a little more laid back at my church. We really pair down our programing and focus on contact work now that kids are out of school. Paired with the contact work, is our annual mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico the first week in August. This will be our 8th summer with Mexico Caravan Ministries, a phenomenal house building and missions mobilization organization. Granted, this summer specifically is going to be a little more hectic as my role at the church has changed to Next Generation Pastor and creating programming for 20s/30s and grow our parent and marriage offerings. We also just hired a new Youth Pastor so it’s going to be a summer of transition and change, with the biggest at the end as we move into our new property early this fall.
Adam: OK, enough about work. Got vacation plans? What are you up to that isn’t work?
Jake: We have two vacations this summer. We’ll be spending a week of family camp with CAMP-of-the-WOODS, which the camp blessed my family with after my youth network booked their entire camp to bring our 12 churches there for a winter retreat. Then in the end of August, some friends are letting us use their beach house in North Carolina. We were really blessed this summer with vacations! In between our vacations, we close on our first home and move.
Adam: OK, enough about what’s really happening, let’s dream a bit. What’s your dream summer vacation?
That’s easy. A week or two at an adults only (i.e. our kids stay home), all-inclusive beach resort. Don’t really care where… just my wife and I, a pile of books and the beach.
Adam: That got kind of awkward real fast. So let’s switch subjects back to youth ministry. Favorite summer youth ministry story.
Jake: Most of my top ones all have to do with our Tijuana summer trip: the time one of our students got attacked by a dog because they got too close to their puppies. The time one of my students laid down on the beach about 50-feet from where our groups stuff was and she feel asleep. We couldn’t find her for about 30-minutes which was terrifying for a bit, but in hindsight was fairly funny. The time I feel off a roof and the actual roof followed me down and it literally got caught on a tree and stopped about 6-inches from landing on my head. Or the time where two dogs decided to procreate right in front of our group while building a house one day.
BUT if I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be the the time we almost blew up a dog. Our group had gone out and bought fireworks and one of our adults bought two M2,000’s. They literally looked like two sticks of dynamite. When we got back to the dorms, we were lighting some fireworks and the adult tied the two M2,000’s together, lit them and threw them out into the road. As soon as it left his hand, a stray dog from across the road decided to play a game of fetch and chased after it. It exploded as soon as the dog reached it and our entire team braced ourselves to see a dog’s body with no head attached. I remember a girl who was a vegetarian started absolutely freaking out when it went off.
Thankfully, the dog simply yelped and limped away. But man, for that split second…
Adam: I’m glad that dog survived your mission trip. I noticed you definitely have a theme of dogs… let’s change subjects away from dogs for one last question. What’s your least favorite part about summer in youth ministry?
Jake: Honestly, I think the part I like least about summer is that our Youth Worker Network, which meets monthly through the school year, doesn’t meet. Between vacations, mission trips and other stuff it’s just too difficult to all get together. I really miss their friendship and the times of worship and encouragement we typically have together.
Want to connect with Jake? Follow him on Twitter.