1. Moments didn’t have time to breathe. When kids felt God’s Spirit, or needed more time to respond, it was already time to leave. I had kids who wanted more time to pray.
2. We dipped into everything for a few minutes but didn’t dig into anything for longer more impacting amounts of time.
3. Three minutes of fun isn’t enough.
4. Three minutes of prayer isn’t enough.
5. Modeling teaching and singing as the only ways to practice spirituality isn’t enough. Kids need more. They’re wired to feel, experience and express. I wasn’t seeing enough spaces to do that.
So, I applied the rule of worship to our youth ministry. (Thank you Chris Tomlin.)
How do we give significant moments a chance to breathe when they need to breathe? How do I customize our youth ministry in a way that makes it malleable for us as leaders? When we see that something is needed more, how do we change the pattern?
I decided to try a rotation approach that would give us a better feel for whole youth ministry—where celebration, compassion, community are working together and being emphasized in greater more impacting moments.
Here’s a sample of what our team implemented:
Wednesday nights would have a program, adjusted to make more time at the back end, with a rotating emphasis each week. We would still do the program like you’ve read above but we might shrink the game to 1 or 2 minutes if we’re planning on playing games after for 30. We might add songs and cut talk time. We might make the message longer or shorter if small groups need extra time. I cut my talk down to 10-15 minutes and began relying on our small group leaders to cultivate community and to become spiritual guides and fun captains for the kids in their circle.
Shortened Youth Min Program (45-60 minutes)
Rotation Program (30-45 minutes)
• Week 1 – Small Groups
• Week 2 – Games (30 minutes of insanity)
• Week 3 – Small Groups
• Week 4 – Spiritual Formation or Prayer Spaces
• Week 5 – Small Groups
For us, we’d physically transition to another room or space. But if you’ve only got one room to work with, I could still see this working for you with some help and creativity from your leaders.
Everything we did was led, organized and fueled by our small group leaders. This is how we let things breathe. Some weeks we’d change it up and decide to do another week of small groups. Some months we’d establish two fun nights instead of having just one. We’d circle up as leaders and we’d pray. We’d ask, what makes sense? When was the last time they really connected with God in silence or in creativity? The school year is unpredictable. Life is unpredictable. Think about the weeks when a teenager dies and your entire group is mourning. It gave us an ability to respond and adjust in the moment. It normalized flexibility.
It means being in the moment of your ministry, listening and not being afraid of trying something new.
How are things working for you? Is there space for things to breathe? Are you having fun? Are you growing deep.
All of it is possible.
This article originally appeared here.