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Earlier this week, Josh posted a poll about taking the summer off saying, “I’m not talking about changing it up a bit in the summer, I’m talking about largely taking the summer off.”

My youth ministry definitely falls into the category of “largely taking the summer off.” During the school year, my high school ministry meets twice a week. Both weekly programs end the week before Memorial Day and don’t restart until the week after Labor Day. Neither happens during the summer, though we do take a summer mission trip and hold a handful of special events.

Here’s what I love about this format:

1. It gives adult leaders time to rest and recharge. The longer a leader serves in youth ministry, the more effective they are. To cultivate longevity, leaders need downtime – weeks where they’re not expected to prepare a lesson or lead anything; Weeks where they can simply come to church and worship with their families, with no additional responsibilities. Taking the summer off allows leaders to do just that. In the process, they come back, eager and ready to serve another year.

2. It gives families time to rest and recharge. The word I most often hear families use to describe themselves is busy. What I hear from tired parents is that by the time we get to the end of the school year, they need a season in which their calendar is less full. By taking the summer off, we give families that time.

3. It gives leaders time to dream. As my youth ministry’s point person, I’ve found it’s difficult to initiate new programs or ideas during the school year, when everything is already up and running. Canceling weekly programming during the summer gives me the space to reflect upon the previous school year and evaluate it. It also gives me a natural time to begin new things and perhaps more importantly, to kill programs that are no longer working.

4. It gives leaders time to invest in other things. Specifically, having no weekly programming responsibilities gives me the time to intentionally invest in my student leadership team, which meets regularly during the summer. Year after year, this investment pays off in profound ways.

5. It creates momentum. Youth workers often decide NOT to take the summer off because they fear doing so will kill their momentum. I’ve actually found the opposite to be true. Having an “end” to our programming year enables us to build various rites of passage into the year, say good-bye to graduating seniors, and welcome incoming freshmen into our ministry. Intentional communication and publicity throughout the summer prepares families for what’s coming, gives them something to look forward to, and creates excitement about our fall launch. This, in turn, allows us to start the school year with fresh momentum.

Your turn: Why else might it be helpful to take the summer off?