Should we take a break from our student ministry for holidays, cancelling our program(s) that week? I regularly see questions like this from other youth pastors. And my answer: Yes!

Before I share why, I do want to acknowledge that some of you might meet on Sunday morning during church services. If that is the case, I know it is much more difficult to take a break, because, for the most part, you have church services every Sunday, no matter what. So there is a chance you might not even have the option to take a break. (I do, however, want to point you to my blog post about “5 More Youth Ministry Fixtures that Need to Die” – click here.)

If you are in a position to do so, or you can talk with your supervisor about doing so, I would like to propose these five reasons why you should take holiday breaks:

  1. You were not hired (or volunteering) to run a student ministry program. You are there to lead a student ministry. This is much bigger than a program, so not meeting for one week does not mean ministry stops. And it is much more than what happens that one night a week anyway.
  2. Your leaders need a break every once in a while. Most of them work or go to school full-time (some both), and they are volunteering on top of all that. They need time to rest, be with their families, and travel. By not meeting, you are honoring your team of volunteers.
  3. Your parents need some family time with their kids. Yes, not all of our students come from good families, but many of them do. And others might have better families if we give them back some time every once in a while. I strongly suggest not flooding the calendar so much that students are rarely with their families.
  4. You need a break too. Most of us don’t give ourselves a break very often. Some of you might not even remember the last time you took some time off. Holidays are there for a reason. Use them!
  5. You will get from these breaks are that it will give you time to rethink, plan ahead, and maybe make a change. It’s sometimes weird to make a change from one week to the next, but after 2 weeks off for Christmas and New Year’s, for example, it makes more sense that a change would take place.

Our holiday time has looked different over the years, often depending when our primary program happened. Currently we meet on Sunday nights and take off all major holidays, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. This also includes taking off Sunday nights for Monday holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day.

Some of you might be thinking about the students who might not have a solid family to spend time with over a holiday or something like that. If you want to and feel led by God to do so, invite them over to be with your family. But try hard to avoid programming on the holidays. And do not feel guilty for taking some time off. In the end, you will probably have some students who are bummed, but most parents and parents will thank you for the break and the time they will get with their families and friends.

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