In a recent meeting, my senior pastor reminded our staff that the church is supposed to be countercultural. One way we can be countercultural is by helping people slow down and linger.

One way to do that, in turn, especially in a youth ministry context, is to take a week off.

To be clear, I’m not just saying YOU should take a week off (though that’s important, too).

I’m saying that on occasion, your entire ministry should take the week off.

Now as someone who advocates taking the summer off of youth ministry programming, perhaps it’s not surprising that I’d also be in favor of taking the occasional week off. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand the reasons behind this decision. Here they are.

  1. It’s countercultural. We live in an extremely fast-paced world and in particular, American society. In it, nothing ever seems to stop. Giving people a day or week off of ministry shows them that it’s possible – and even good – to rest. It models the taking of a Sabbath to people.

  2. Strategically taking weeks off comes as a welcome relief to families. For example: Our youth ministry took the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving off. Our confirmation ministry is taking the entire month of December off. This type of strategically placed break gives families time to be together, travel, or simply rest without feeling guilty about not being somewhere else. It prevents church from becoming just another thing that has to be done. That’s a true gift to the families we serve.

  3. Intentionally taking time off shows adult leaders you value them. It allows them to be with their families on a Sunday morning rather than with the students in your ministry. It gives them time to rest and rejuvenate. That, in turn, cultivates longevity. When leaders know you’ll give them occasional weeks off – especially during seasons that are family-oriented – they’re far more likely to continue serving in your ministry.

  4. It breeds creativity. In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to be consumed by our “to-do” lists. When our focus is constantly on getting the next thing done, it’s difficult to be creative. Taking a week off gives you breathing room. It gives you time to just be, to reflect on your ministry. Often those unstructured, restful moments will spark creativity, generating unique ideas that will propel your ministry forward.

In short, taking the occasional week off of youth ministry during the program year promotes health – for you, your teens, their families, your leaders, and your ministry as a whole.

So go ahead. Try it.

Unapologetically shut down your ministry for just one week.

While you may face some initial resistance from your boss, I bet you won’t from the families you serve.

They might even thank you.

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