youth ministry as a place of rest

rest areais there any sense where you could honestly describe your ministry as “a place of rest”?

so often, our youth ministries are more accurately considered “places of expectations” or “places of busy-ness”. but what a great gift you give your students when you make your youth ministry (at least sometimes) a “place of rest”!

this isn’t about offering nap time! it’s about creating a safe place for teenagers to let down their guard and relax. it’s about fostering an environment that isn’t always about being busy. it’s about holding up slowness and rest and quiet as powerful spiritual values with huge results in our lives.

this is counter-cultural stuff in most of our churches, where we’ve bought into the cultural value (this isn’t from scripture!) of busy-ness being spiritual. how many times have you heard someone in the church talk about how busy they are, because of their ministry involvements, with the implication that this is a good thing? i don’t think jesus thinks over-commitment and busy-ness are good things. in fact, jesus seems to think just the opposite! slow down. teach your students how to slow down. learn to live in the (initially awkward) space of quiet, and make that a regular part of your youth ministry. sure, it’s great to play hard, have feisty discussions, and be involved in a passionate pursuit of serving others. but teaching about and providing a space for rest is equally important!

5 thoughts on “youth ministry as a place of rest”

  1. Awesome post.

    Currently in Westport, WA (small, fairly impoverished fishing town on the coast) with our student leaders for about 8 days. We’ve built in EVERY day space for multiple hours of free time, an hour of solo guided study and prayer on the beach (tough life, eh?) & have decided this year to include nightly journaling, silence & prayer during each of our worship times.

    And. The. Kids. LOVE it. We’ve been here for 4 days and they’re already craving chances for rest. And not just rest for relaxation’s sake- but a chance to include God in that rest.

  2. Brilliant read Marko. This has been one of the primary motivations behind the post-modern and post-Christian approach to youth ministry here in my local context. Providing space for families to breathe and find balance are keys for the longterm transformation of both the individual and family I believe.

  3. This is so awesome to see Marko. The previous youth ministry I led made it a point to sometimes do nothing. Other times we just encouraged the kids to sit contemplatively. Other times let’s just have casual conversations. All of these “felt” unproductive to me and other staff members but not to the kids. They almost always say that those times were refreshing. To be able to get away from a world of expectations is rare in their world. Youth ministry as sanctuary became our focus for some of our gatherings and surprisingly those were often the most attended and received the best feedback from students. The organic conversations that would occur during these times did more to spiritually form our youth and volunteers than most of our scheduled or structured learning times.

  4. I love this….often when I champion de-programming to better serve and support already (way too) busy families you would think I said a dirty word or committed moral failure. I also love to use time away…like summer camp or a beach trip to give kids space and time to rest in God’s creation without over planning/programming as well.

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