Summertime Shepherding (Pt. 2)

Summer is finally here which means that for us college ministry leaders it’s time to step back and take a break right. After all we have been running hard for about nine months, now we get three well-deserved months off. Am I right? Not exactly….

A few weeks ago I shared that this mentality towards summer is misguided. Jesus doesn’t take a break from shepherding us and just because programed college ministry takes a break that doesn’t mean that we take a break from shepherding either.

As we approach Summer we will get a chance to spend some great relational time with students that we might not normally get a chance to hang out with. For instance there might be students who come back home from school or there might be students who stick around but don’t have classes. Regardless of who it is, college students have more free time, which means they have more time to hang out, which also means that we will be able to spend more time being relational with them.

Pool Party - Pac Sun

However, our time spent with students can’t simply boil down to “hanging out,” although that is very necessary, we need a certain level of intentionality when we hang out with students in the summer. The way we are intentional with students in the summer might not be as formal as it is during the school year, nevertheless we need to be focused.

Time spent with college students in the summer doesn’t need to be formal, but it does need to be intentional.

One way we can be intentional with students in the summer is to take our role as shepherds seriously. Although the way we shepherd in the summer will largely be similar to how we shepherd students during the school year there are at least two summer specific aspects of the shepherding role that we need to emphasize, today we will hit on just one….

A Shepherd Protects – Acts 20:28-32

28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Here we see Paul saying farewell to the Ephesian elders that he had come to love while spending time in Ephesus. He is on his way to Jerusalem, where he will be severely tested. These are Paul’s last words to these elders, notice what he emphasizes:

  • The Holy Spirit has made these elders overseers of this particular flock
  • These sheep have been purchased with Christ’s own blood
  • Wolves will come and attack the flock
  • False teachers will try to draw the flock away

The Lord has entrusted us with a flock; and the flock he has given us is so very valuable to God. Its so valuable to God that he even sent his soon to spill his blood in order to redeem them. Jesus is passionate about these students, and he is calling us to have the same sort of passion for them.

But these students face an enemy, and that enemy wants to attack them and he wants to draw them away for himself. As shepherds we need to be on the look out for people and or things that will draw students away.

A college leader’s role as a shepherd/protector is especially relevant in the summer.

Summer can be a spiritually dangerous time for college students. Meetings usually don’t continue on into summer. Small groups don’t meet, so there isn’t much accountability for students who aren’t intentionally seeking it. Also there are less responsibilities (i.e. no class, no homework, etc.) so there is a lot more time to get into shady things. Laziness also tends to kick in during summer, which means that its even harder to stay on track with spiritual disciplines.

There are at least three types of students that the college leader will need to protect during the summer:

The Unintentional Student – When summer comes along the number of distractions for college students increase and so do the opportunities to ignore one’s faith. For this reason, a college leader’s role as a protectors is especially relevant. A college leader will need to keep encouraging their students to remain faithful to Christ and he will have to remind his students to keep pursuing Christ.

The at Risk Student – The college leader will also need to keep an eye out on students who are especially liable to slip up during the summer. Some students are barely hanging on to their faith by a thread, the only reason they haven’t fallen apart is because they have community and accountability. But the second that community gets disbanded that student’s faith is at risk. This student needs light touches throughout the summer, they need to be held accountable and they need to consistently be pointed to the gospel.

The Socially Unconnected Student – Its sad but its true, some students only have community because others are pursuing them. If it weren’t for weekly meetings and/or small groups these students wouldn’t have any friends or relationships. They are the students who will get ignored unless leaders intentionally pursue them. As leaders we need to remember who these students are, keep inviting them to things and help them to get connected with other students who are around during the summer.

Questions for Reflection:

    • Which students could use some extra attention over summer?
    • Who are the students that are vulnerable to stray unless you are intentional with them over summer?

Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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