Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Why You Should Be Doing Less This Semester

Why You Should Be Doing Less This Semester

SmarterYM is back from a self-imposed summer vacation …

… and ready to help you kick off a brand new semester of ministry.

I’ve spent a ton of time lately talking to a lot of youth workers, and I’ve come to one conclusion.

There is an excellent chance that most of us are doing too much stuff.

I want to convince you that the old, cheesy saying is true for ministry.

Less is more.

A friend of mine was upset about the way a recent youth meeting went.

He hadn’t prepared much, the karaoke machine wasn’t working, and when it came time to teach, he was flying by the seat of his pants.

His message was an “incoherent mess,” and those weren’t his words …

Those were the words of one of his students.

So how did he get into that mess?

He’d spent the previous three days trying to arrange participants, volunteers and transportation for a trip to Cedar Point.

Don’t get me wrong. Roller coasters are great.

But they’re not better than the message of Christ.

If you don’t have time for anything,

You won’t have time for Important Things.

Less is more because each of us can remember doing several things poorly instead of doing one thing well.

Less is more because your students will hang on to one memorable experience and immediately forget a dozen mediocre ones.

Less is more because a long and steady youth ministry career will always bear more fruit than a frenzied flame-out.

None of that sentiment matters unless it’s backed by research and data.

You already know that it is.


In their book, Simple Church, Thom Ranier and Eric Geiger make clear the case for Less Is More.

Ranier and Geiger are much smarter than I am, so I’m not going to get too deep into their documented research and proven principles …

… but I will recommend that you move Simple Church to the very top of your reading list. If you can, get it absorbed before Labor Day.

You’ll thank me for it later.


At my church, we’ve made some tremendously difficult decisions, and we’ve done away with at least one major program that’s been a part of our ministry for the last seven years.


Because for the last five years, I’ve spoken about how important it was to do youth ministry alongside of our parents …

… but it’s always been the last thing on my list.

That means that it usually doesn’t get done.

Instead of making the insane promise that this year is the year I finally do everything on my list that’s already way too long …

… we’re starting with a shorter list.

I hope you’ll join me.

(It’s good to be back. Do me a favor and tell your ministry friends that SmarterYM is back for another school year?)