January is often an energized month. The Christmas break is over and you have all these new goals and New Year’s Resolutions you’re dying to realize. It’s a time of new plans and initiatives, of changing the old and in with the new and improved.

In many ways, youth ministry is like the month of January: busy, full of energy, constantly improving, always looking for something better and newer, never satisfied with the status quo.

When we live youth ministry like it’s January all the time, we run the risk of losing something of crucial importance: the connection with our soul. Amidst our best laid plans and heartfelt efforts to constantly do and change and improve, we forget to be, to slow down, to breath. We forget we are humans who are made to connect with God, with others, but also with ourselves.

Connecting with ourselves, with our soul, only happens when we slow down. We can’t hear the quiet and subtle voice of our soul when we’re constantly busy. To hear what’s happening inside us, to truly feel what we’re feeling, we need to slow down. We need to become quiet, take a rest and breathe. Only then can we connect with our own soul and find out how we’re really doing.

slow club

When you ask someone how they are doing, most of them will automatically say ‘I’m fine’, regardless of how they’re really feeling. When you don’t slow down to connect with your soul, you will keep telling yourself you’re fine because it’s the automated response. Only when you take the time to really listen to yourself will you find out if you’re really doing fine or if that’s just a big fat lie.

Mark Yaconelli calls this ‘slow club’ and I’ve written about it before. I think many who heard this talk at the Youthwork Summit (or elsewhere, he’s spoken about this in several places) wanted to do this, to become a member of slow club. But it’s so easy in the day to day pressure and routines of our lives to forget about slowing down, to just keep going and working and doing.

So my question is this: How are you really doing? When’s the last time you took the time to listen to yourself answering that question in truth? Renew your membership of slow club and plan some time to slow down and reconnect with your soul.

Here are some slow club ideas for you to help you reconnect with your soul:

  • Go for a hike
  • Plan a retreat
  • Read a book that makes you relax, not something work related
  • Visit an art exhibition or a museum
  • Paint something
  • Take an hour to write down how you feel, what’s happening inside you
  • Go for a run
  • Have a special dinner with your spouse or a good friend
  • Do something that relaxes you like gardening, cooking or baking as long as the goal is not to be productive
  • Spend an hour just singing, making music or listening to a cd
  • Find a warm spot in the sun and just sit down and do nothing
  • Take a walk in a park or a garden and enjoy your surroundings
  • Visit a local historical building
  • Spend time with your kids doing nothing, just enjoying their presence
  • Take the time for lunch en enjoy what you’re eating

And if you need a reminder of what slow club is, do yourself a favor and listen to Mark Yaconelli’s speech again from the Youthwork Summit in Manchester last year. Yes, it’s the one that ended with some major disco dancing…

If you were a member of slow club before, did you manage to slow down regularly? If not, what prevented you from doing so? If so, what helped you put it into practice?