Churches prepare for summer

Published 9:30 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

Graduation is merely weeks away. And like so many other facets of the community, ministers and youth ministers are bracing for the change in routine that accompanies summer.

With the closing of schools, students are generally left with an inordinate amount of free time. The philosophy that drives many ministers in youth ministries is one that mandates providing unoccupied youth with options for positive activity.

“The old saying ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,’” Justin Paschall, minister of the Church of Christ at Canal Heights, said of the popular thought that governs many summer ministry programs. “If you can keep them busy in godly activities, then you don’t have to worry as much about the ungodly activities.”

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For the Canal Heights group, summers generally consist of devotionals, assisting with the congregation’s Vacation Bible School and spending a week at Indian Creek Youth Camp in Jasper.

Planning of such activities can often begin as early as the preceding fall, according to First Baptist Church youth minister Les Spiller.

“That kind of sutff, you have to plan way ahead of time,” Spiller said.

“Those kinds of things I usually have in place the fall before.”

The FBC group spent a week in Philadelphia in 2008, but this year will devote its time to a mission camp in Birmingham known as M-Fuge.

While experiences will certainly differ, each group will be afforded the opportunity to grow in its faith.

“I think (summer) can be pivotal,” Paschall said. “In the course of a summer, you can either gain a person’s interest and commitment to Christ, or you can lose it. That’s especially true with youth.”

“A lot of the spiritual growth comes from being together and staying together and coaching each other,” Spiller said.