Several summers ago, I wanted to continue discipling the girls in our student ministry, though our typical small groups took a break for the summer. At the time, I had a toddler and newborn, so my time was limited. The best option was to invite the girls into our home while my boys napped. Things didn’t always go perfectly—babies and toddlers are known for refusing to nap sometimes—but the Lord worked despite the imperfectness. Now, my boys no longer nap, but summer girls Bible study has become a tradition in our student ministry. Opening our home to students is something our entire family (our sons included) and youth look forward to each summer. Though I’m sure there’s a million reasons not to have students over in the summer, there are also a million reasons why we should. Summer is the perfect time to open our homes, and here are a few of those reasons:
During the school year, most girls juggle school, jobs, and sports. Though some of these are still a part of their summer schedules, I find most girls have more flexibility and free time during the summer. Summer Bible study allows girls who maybe can’t be as involved during the school year to plug in throughout the summer. Also, while our small groups during the school year are only an hour, the flexibility of summer gifts us more time together. I try to keep the Bible study portion to under an hour still, but the girls are free to hang out at my house until they’re ready to go. We enjoy desserts, play games, and simply have fun fellowshipping. This extended, laid back time allows me to grow closer to the girls and them to grow closer to one another.
During the school year, our small groups are broken up by age. In the summer, our in-home Bible study is for all girls in our student ministry. While there are benefits to grouping by ages, there are also great benefits in joining girls together. Older girls have an opportunity to lead and pour into younger girls. The younger girls feel more a part of the student ministry as they build relationships with the older girls. Joining together reminds the girls that the gospel is what unites us, not our age, school, interests, or any other surface-level thing. In general, it builds relationships and deepens unity in the student ministry as a whole.
Allowing Girls to Lead.
Summer is a great time to challenge older girls to take a leadership role. There are girls in our student ministry who have faithfully attended summer Bible studies, small groups, and Wednesday night services for many years. As they entered their senior year, I asked them to help me lead our summer Bible study. It was a great opportunity for them to pour into others as they had been poured into for many years. Personally, it was a sweet blessing to watch these girls that were once awkward and crazy middle schoolers step up and lead through teaching God’s Word. Maybe one reason to not open our homes this summer is the need for a break. I totally get that! Asking our girls to lead Bible study gives us a break from teaching, while also allowing girls the opportunity to learn to teach God’s Word. It’s a win-win!
That Home-y Feeling.
At a summer youth camp, I was burdened when the leader shared with us adults that many teens aren’t familiar with church. He challenged us to therefore use our homes even more for ministry. Though teens may not be familiar with church, they’re familiar with living rooms. Our students may feel more comfortable inviting friends into a home than into the church building. Even for students who have grown up in church, there’s something about being in a home together that creates a more comfortable feeling for everyone. Deep discussions seem to flow more easily, along with fellowship. During the school year, it’s tough for our student ministry to do small groups in-home. Summer is the perfect time for us to open our home and build these deeper relationships.
I can’t leave this very important reason out! Our girls and I have shared many laughs over the summers in our home. They’ve played Twister in the front yard, played on our boy’s swing set, and tried their hand at cupcake decorating. Yes, they (and me included) learn about God, but we have an absolute blast while doing it. Let’s not miss out on the opportunity to bring life, fun, and laughter into our homes this summer.
Inviting students into our homes doesn’t have to be fancy. My house is rarely spotless when they come, and my kids are often running around in the middle of the girls. I make a dessert each week, and we keep it simple with paper plates and plastic cups. Truly, teenagers just want to be loved, and our homes are a great place to love them. Hospitality isn’t about impressing them, but it’s about using the homes the Lord has given us to love others well.
Open your home to students this summer. Teach them about God and his Word, and you’ll learn a lot too. Pour into them, and you’ll find you’ll all go into the school year with deeper relationships. Have fun with them, and each of you will benefit from the laughter and fellowship.
Cassie Pattillo is a wife to Jack, and mama to Hunter (5), Isaac (3), and is in the process of adopting from India. Jack is a student pastor, so she loves serving alongside him and investing in teens’ lives. She is passionate about biblical literacy along with writing and teaching about Scripture. She is also a big fan of slow mornings with a cup of coffee, a good book on the beach, and Gamecock football. Connect with Cassie: Blog // Facebook // Instagram