Earlier this summer, our family made a pilgrimage to the ultimate summer vacation destination, Disneyland. As we navigated the crowds, I noticed a common trait among our fellow mouse-eared tourists. With the exception of a few overstimulated toddlers and stressed-out parents, everyone around us was smiling and laughing. The strangers...
I have been serving in Christian higher education for over a decade now. Each year, at least one college student asks me this question: “What should I do during my summer break?” Or the parents will ask, “My son or daughter is coming home for the summer, so what should I encourage them to do while they are at home?”
Here are my top 10 activities that every Christian student should do during the summer. Some of these principles are things I learned along the way, while others are biblical convictions that help to grow us in our walk with the Lord.
10 Summer Activities for Christian Students
One of the greatest temptations when finishing the last course of the term is to head into the summer months and forget to read. Find a quality novel to enjoy. Read a biography from history. Read poetry. Read something. With the evolution of technology today, you can read from your phone, tablet, or other electronic device. I am currently rereading a book entitled Shane by Jack Schaefer. You could also participate in Unlocking the Bible’s Summer Reading Contest!
If you find reading to be difficult, might I suggest reading Mortimer Adler’s book How to Read a Book. He provides a quick way to navigate any reading genre. He gives helpful questions to use as you read any particular piece of literature.
9. Take an online or summer course.
Stay ahead of the game. Take a few courses online. Take a CLEP exam. Reduce your fall and spring term load to a manageable level. Generally, summer classes have a lower tuition rate than other seasons. This decision will create space in your educational path, reducing study hours and giving extra free time to volunteer, work, and exercise. Taking a few extra courses during summer could help you stay on track.
In addition, high school students should investigate colleges that offer dual credit opportunities. Again, taking this route could eliminate a whole academic term in a short amount of time. Check with your local high school on requirements.
8. Learn a skill.
Depending on your course of study, some of you will do well to learn a skill that can be developed over time. I find summertime a great way to learn something new. I remember working for a carpentry contractor one summer, and soon I was able to build walls, place shingles on a roof, and even do some plumbing.
When you return home, begin the natural duty of helping around the house and even seeking summer employment (Ephesians 6:1-2; Colossians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:8). This means returning home seeking to do “good” to others (Genesis 29:20; 1 Corinthians 10:24). You might consider ways to give back to your parents. How about performing the old chore list of pulling weeds, mowing the yard, gardening, and cleaning the house?
6. Stay out of debt.
I have noticed many students getting deeper into debt each semester. This is a deep concern to me. Avoid charging on your credit cards. Avoid the loan market as much as possible, even to pay for your school bills. The average 4-year Christian college debt is in the upper $35,000 to $40,000 now, and climbing. Debt takes years to pay off and keeps you unavailable for missions work, working in church ministry, and other ministry vocation (Proverbs 11:15; James 4:13-15; Philippians 4:19).
The United States is experiencing enormous amounts of weight gain. If I remember correctly, I gained a lot of weight from my first semester of college to my last. Partly, it was the food on campus that created the weight gain, but I also did not exercise! Let me encourage you to keep up a quality, regimented exercise routine that will help keep the body fit, which in turn gives energy to keep the mind healthy and growing (1 Timothy 4:8).
Set out this summer to serve. Many churches have mission trips, vacation Bible School, and other volunteer activities available. Serving provides ways for one to gain experience and to strengthen spiritual gifts (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Serving is practical and puts flesh on the bones of our theology (John 12:26).
3. Follow the rules.
Some of our Christian colleges require students to adhere to lifestyle integrity, even when they are away from the campus. The rules on campus apply at home. Remember, when you leave campus, God goes with you into your various activities. Seek to honor God in all your activities (Philippians 4:8).
2. Attend worship services at church.
Attending church needs to be a priority. As you head home for the summer months, and if your church attendance has waned, you might renew it. Take time to invest in your relationship with your church. Check in with your pastor. Attend a Bible study for fellowship opportunities. Connect with other people in your similar age bracket. Some churches go into college mode during the summer and have these types of studies available (Hebrews 10:25).
1. Grow spiritually.
Godliness is a call to action. Use the summer to reflect, pray, and meditate. Reflect on Psalm 1, pick up a writing journal, and study a book of the Bible. There are so many resources at your fingertips through Bible apps and devotional guides, such as Robert Murray McCheyne’s Bible Reading plan (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 1:3-8) or the new LifeKEYS Daily mobile app.
A Gospel-Saturated Summer
These 10 possible activities are intended to stir your heart toward a gospel-saturated summer. Think of the activities as spiritual practices, which can help you toward a goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. As runners, the end goal is to finish well, but we need goals, we need a strategy, and we need to cross the finish line that God intends, having been productive (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:12-14).
Your task is to create a list of activities that could match up or add to my list. The spiritual practice of goal setting can be helpful for hearing and preparing for the Lord to speak (Hebrews 5:8). The well-structured life provides us a battle plan to fight temptation, to engage in loving relationships, and to make godly and wise decisions. Have a gospel-saturated summer!