Embracing the Rhythm of Rest: A Call to Slow Down in Youth Ministry
by Chris Sasser

In the craziness of life that is called youth ministry, the urgency to engage and connect with teenagers, the desire to offer meaningful programs, and the pressure to fill a church calendar can sometimes overshadow a real need that we all have. It’s the need for a slower, more intentional pace of life and ministry. I’m not sure, as human beings, if we’re designed to live at the speed that we often go. As leaders, it’s vitally important that we recognize the profound impact of slowing down, not only for our own well-being but also for the spiritual growth and development of the youth we lead. 


Scripture consistently highlights the importance of rest and reflection. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to come to Him for rest, promising that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. As youth ministry leaders, we can impart this wisdom by embodying a balanced lifestyle that reflects the peace of Christ. By slowing down, we create space for authentic connections with the youth in our church, fostering an environment where they can experience the rest that comes from a relationship with Jesus.


In Psalm 23:2-3, we find assurance that the Good Shepherd leads us beside still waters and restores our souls. As leaders, part of our call is to develop this shepherd’s heart ourselves, guiding the teenagers in our midst to a lifestyle that embraces the rhythm of rest. If we can do this, we not only foster a healthier ministry environment but also equip the next generation with the tools to navigate life’s challenges through an authentic and lasting faith.


If you want to slow down and embrace a rhythm of rest in your life and ministry, begin to implement a few of these practical tips: 


  1. Schedule Sabbath Moments: Set aside regular times for personal reflection and rest. Encourage anyone who is on your team to do the same.
  2. Mindful Planning: Instead of overwhelming schedules, plan fewer events with more intentional purposes. Quality over quantity ensures a more impactful and meaningful ministry.
  3. Embrace a Technology Detox: Create spaces where phones and gadgets are set aside (for both you and the teenagers you lead), allowing genuine, distraction-free interactions.
  4. Delegate Responsibilities: Empower others in your ministry to take on specific tasks, distribute the workload, and prevent burnout.
  5. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity: Instead of overloading your schedule with events, focus on a few impactful activities that allow for deeper connections and spiritual growth.
  6. Encourage Spiritual Practices: Implement regular times of prayer, meditation, and reflection within your personal life and youth group activities. This not only sets a contemplative tone but also encourages spiritual growth.
  7. Model Healthy Boundaries: Demonstrate the importance of balance by setting clear boundaries for work hours, personal time, and rest. This teaches the teenagers you lead the value of self-care and prioritizing spiritual well-being.


We all want to work hard, be faithful, and have an impact on the lives of the teenagers and families in our church, but we cannot do any of this effectively if we are living at an unhealthy pace. Take some time to reflect on your life and the patterns of your ministry, and ask God to lead you to any steps you can take to slow it down and embrace a rhythm of rest.