As we enter the summer, it’s common for parish ministry to wind down. Sunday Schools put their books away while youth and young adult groups go on break. The normal cycle of weekly meetings and activities comes to a temporary close. Though parish programs may take a few months off, the summer is no time to pause our relationship with Christ. Here are five resources we can use, whether alone or with family and friends, to keep our minds and hearts on Christ:
1. Be the Bee
With 100 episodes currently available, Be the Bee has become a key resource in parishes and communities across the country, and even around the world. These brief, easy to understand videos take even the most complex theology and present it in a way that’s clear and accessible to people of all ages. Be the Bee has become a cornerstone of everything from elementary aged Sunday school classes to teenage summer camp programs and young adult discussion groups.
Yet these episodes are just as helpful outside of the parish setting. A single video can provide food for thought, inspiration for a rough day, or important ideas upon which to reflect. Whether you watch alone or with family and friends, Be the Bee can feed your faith while keeping Christ at the center of your mind and heart.
2. The Trench
With over 20 episodes available, The Trench is Y 2 AM’s latest video series and another great resource for the summer months. With more of a specifically young adult emphasis than Be the Bee, The Trench explores some of the challenges and opportunities that arise out of the relationships that shape our lives.
Episodes have covered topics as wide-ranging as the importance of healthy boundaries, tips for relating with coworkers, and steps needed to build authentic community. While The Trench is increasingly popular in parish young adult groups, these videos are also perfect for friends looking to seek Christ and grow in their faith together. Episodes can lead to powerful discussions, and the sources they cite can be excellent summer reading.
3. Pop Culture Coffee Hour
With just about a dozen episodes available so far, Pop Culture Coffee Hour (PCCH) is Y2AM’s latest project, and the one growing most swiftly in popularity. While Be the Bee and The Trench present deep and applied theology in groundbreaking ways, PCCH actually models Y2AM’s core message: that there is no divide between sacred and secular, because God truly is present in all places and filling all things.
So, in PCCH, you won’t simply hear two people offer carefully scripted presentations about theology. Instead, you’ll be invited into an unscripted, casual conversation between two friends taking a deep and thoughtful, yet lighthearted and funny, look at some of the best that pop culture has to offer. It’s a chance for Y 2 AM to not simply preach the Gospel, but to show how it informs every corner of our lives as we seek to live every day as Christians seeking the Lord’s Kingdom.
4. Summer Camp
As we’ve indicated in each of the three sections above, the point of resources isn’t merely to teach ideas; it’s to bring people together in love and fellowship, united as a Body in Christ. That’s why the resources we mentioned are best watched and listened to, and reflected upon, together. And the summer offers no better experience of togetherness than camp.
As we’ve said before, camp changes lives because it’s a wonderful manifestation of the Church being itself: campers and counselors attend daily services, pray before and after meals, and do everything from playing sports to learning about the Church in a Christ-centered way. There is no divide between sacred and secular at camp because all things, no matter how mundane or silly, are approached with the same awareness of God’s presence and love.
5. Daily Prayers; Weekly Liturgy
Unfortunately, when we talk about developing our relationship with Christ, it’s often easiest to speak of resources we make or programs we administer. So, in this list, we’ve saved the best for last. You may never watch a single video we recommend, and you may never participate in summer camp, and that’s ok. But if you’re really serious about connecting with Christ, you need to make time for Him in your life. You need to talk to Him, and allow Him to speak to you. And that means making time for daily prayer and regular attendance of the divine services, especially Sunday Liturgy.
Even the best theology books and Christian videos run the risk of reducing Christ to a mere idea, something to be studied rather than Someone to be loved. The best antidote is the closeness that only comes through prayer, and the communion that most perfectly comes by partaking of Holy Communion and celebrating the Divine Liturgy. If the videos and podcast we mention above don’t lead you to deeper prayer and a stronger desire to know the Lord, then set them aside. If summer camp doesn’t introduce you to Christ and give you a glimpse into His Kingdom, then forget it. It is God, above all else, Whom we seek: not programs or activities or entertainment but the Crucified and Risen Lord Himself. This summer (and every season!), seek first the Kingdom of God. And if the resources and programs we suggest above help you in this journey, then thanks be to Him who died and rose for our sake.